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Have you ever wondered where your food comes from? Not just where it’s grown today, but where it originally popped up in the world? Have you ever bit into a delicious ripe fruit and wondered, hey – why is it this color? What’s responsible for this amazing flavor? Is this good for my health? Could it even be medicinal?

Foodie Pharmacology is a science podcast built for the food curious, the flavor connoisseurs, chefs, science geeks, plant lovers and adventurous taste experimenters out in the world! Join American ethnobotanist Dr. Cassandra Quave on this adventure through history, medicine, cuisine and molecules as she explores the amazing pharmacology of our foods

Jun 2, 2020

This is Dr. Cassandra Quave, your host for the show. In this weeks episode, our 49th on the show, I thought that it might be fun to share some insights from a field study that I conducted with one of my collaborators on a beautiful volcanic island located in the Mediterranean sea, situated approximately 95 km south of Sicily and 67 km north of Tunisia (Northern Africa), The island is called Pantelleria, and while you can see the Tunisian coastline on a clear weather day, this is actually an Italian island. 

Pantelleria belongs to the Province of Trapani and it is the largest of the Sicilian isles and populated by roughly 7,000 inhabitants, and visited by tourists who come to the island to enjoy its numerous natural attractions such as the Specchio di Venere, a geothermally-heated lake with healing muds, archeological sites such as the Byzantine tombs, and local foods and beverages such as capers and the passito wine.  Pantelleria is exceptionally biodiverse with flora distributed across 73 families, including several endemic species such as : Genista aspalathoides, Helichrysum rupestre, Limonium species, Matthiola incana, among others. The territory can be divided in three different bioclimatic belts, based on the variable elevation levels across the island. The highest part of the island, localy know as the Montagna Grande at >600 masl is mesomediterranean sub-humid, fostering the rich growth of ferns and humid forest, while the lower parts of the island are much drier, classified as inframediterranean semiarid (0-200 m.a.s.l.) and thermomediterranean dry (200-450 m.a.s.l.). As a result, the island includes different ecosytems, ranging from oak forests, shurblands and pine forests.