Science Social 09: How Alchemy Helped Feed Early Modern Europe

How Alchemy Helped Feed Early Modern Europe, with Justin Niermeier-Dohoney

Science Social Podcast LogoIn the early modern era, European agriculture was in crisis. Soils had become depleted, crops grew smaller and fewer in number, and the growing seasons were shorter and cooler. Food production could no longer keep pace with population growth. To find solutions, some to turned to a field not commonly associated with agricultural production: alchemy. From the philosopher's stone to "vegetable salt" to early attempts in fertilization and modern chemical agriculture: host Stephanie Hood is joined by historian Justin Niermeier-Dohoney as they explore how people in the past dealt with similar ecological challenges to those we are facing today—and how some of their ideas may still provide clues for how to solve them.


Produced by the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science
Theme song by Podington Bear, CC NY-NC 3.0