I'm trying something different today in that I'm writing the blog as I write the world-building rather than writing the blog afterwards.
Crops for my story is a giant can of worms, the reason being that in a moment of insanity I decided my central world were all vegetarians!
Now a modern vegetarian has no problem with getting their proper amount of carbs, fats, protein and various vitamins but I'm not writing modern or urban fantasy, I'm writing cusp of industry fantasy. This leaves me with many fascinating problems.
I should probably confess here that I am a geek, I am a proud geek and I love research. This area happens to touch upon two of my geek interests:
- Eco-Geek. I try to always eat free range, responsibly-sourced meat. I try to shop small, local stores and get fruit and veg grown locally. The carbon cost of shipping foods isn't as simple as shop local though because the carbon cost of growing lower yield crops here can actually be higher than shipping over higher yield crops. Nonetheless there's the economic and social benefit of supporting local farmers.
- Nutrition-Geek. This is a side effect of the fact I have lost a lot of weight and am continuing to try to lose more. I don't take any 'diet' at face value and, being a geek, I set about trying to understand where my eating habits had gone wrong and where I can improve. That involves being aware of the calories in things, the fibre content, the carbs and proteins and healthy fats versus bad fats and everything else.
So my poor vegetarian race is facing some big issues right off the bat.
- Whilst not vegan, the fact that animals are all sacred means there is no 'farming' of animals, wild animals are the only source for animal products. This does lead to the conclusion that the biggest, toughest, most bad-ass people in the village are the milk maids 'cos do you fancy sitting under a wild cow and squeezing its boobs? This means that eggs, milk, cheese, butter are all going to be somewhat luxury and certainly not part of the daily diet.
- For simplicity's sake I'm basing the central culture on England. This eliminates a lot of crops that need consistent heat and humidity for growth (though does favour crops that like rain). The main fertiliser is usually cow manure (another brave job for someone to venture out to do though less brave than milk maids). I would probably need to look at a book of foraging to under all that is available in this climate especially with regards to nuts and seeds which would be some of the main providers of protein and fats.
- Being pre-industrial revolution storage is going to be problem. While some crops do keep well after harvesting, they are also forbidden from killing pests so a certain amount of the yield will be lost to mice. There will also be the more rural agricultural zones and the more urban which leads to the issue of transporting crops from here to there. Can my people uses horses or does that contravene their rules on animals being sacred?
- Outside trade looks likely to be banned. As mentioned in B for Beginnings, my culture abhors meat-eaters and considers them the lowest of the low. This would make it extremely hard to trade, also my civilisation must have been able to survive pre-trade.
For now, I will look forward to finding some answers to these questions down the line.