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Unpublished Paper
The Seven Spices: Pumpkins, Puritans, and Pathogens in Colonial New England
  • Michael D Sharbaugh, Georgia State University
Water sources in the United States' New England region are laden with arsenic. Particularly during North America's colonial period--prior to modern filtration processes--arsenic would make it into the colonists' drinking water. In this article, which evokes the biocultural evolution paradigm, it is argued that colonists offset health risks from the contaminant (arsenic poisoning) by ingesting copious amounts of seven spices--cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, cardamom, allspice, vanilla, and ginger. The inclusion of these spices in fall and winter recipes that hail from New England would therefore explain why many Americans associate them not only with the region, but with Thanksgiving and Christmas, as well.
  • arsenic,
  • biocultural evolution,
  • diet,
  • holidays,
  • spices,
  • New England,
  • anthropology,
  • cinnamon,
  • clove,
  • nutmeg,
  • cardamom,
  • allspice,
  • vanilla,
  • ginger,
  • history,
  • pumpkin,
  • pie,
  • Michael David Sharbaugh,
  • Michael Sharbaugh,
  • Michael Ash Sharbaugh,
  • Thanksgiving
Publication Date
Winter December, 2011
Citation Information
Michael D Sharbaugh. "The Seven Spices: Pumpkins, Puritans, and Pathogens in Colonial New England" (2011)
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