The Jew And The Carrot

The Roots of Lentils

By Sarah Melamed

Sarah Melamed

“You’ll have to crawl on your hands and knees to find the lentils” warned Dr. Gideon Ladizinsky, a researcher at the Faculty of Agriculture in Rehovot, Israel. We were on a field trip to explore the wild progenitors of agricultural plants, scuffing up our clothes in the process. Even with my face centimeters from the damp earth, the fragile mesh of green was easy to overlook.

Wild lentils grow where other plants don’t; tiny roots grasp rocky soil, spreading fast and fiercely before the winter rains have evaporated. Soon the undergrowth takes hold, competing for the little moisture and space available. By the peak of spring, lentil pods have already dispersed their tiny seeds and have wilted back to the ground. There they lie dormant until the cycle begins again.

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