This is Cal. Or Hydrated Lime. Or Pickling Lime. Or Calcium Hydroxide. Or Slaked Lime. . It looks pretty inconsequential, but this powder has an incredible story to tell. . Cal (or its predecessor wood ash) is used by Mexicans in the processing their staple food, corn. Cooking corn with cal (called nixtamalisation) means the vitamin B3 in it becomes available. If your staple is corn, that’s super important as vitamin B3 deficiency is pretty horrible. . When corn started to be taken up by populations outside of Mexico as a food source, the ancestral processing method was *not* taken up with it. And because of this, in the early 1900s the B3 deficiency disease pellagra was at epidemic levels in Northern Italy. . Because corn was cheap it become a monocrop, completely displacing the traditional carbohydrate sources (beans, wheat, spelt, millet, rye, barley and buckwheat) of the locals. And because they were eating unprocessed corn all day, every day, pellagra, and its horrible symptoms, were widespread. For many years no-one knew why. . This page of history has *so* much to teach us. The twin pieces of wisdom that we ignore at our peril are that monocropping is not a desirable thing and not listening to traditional wisdom is perilous. . I started sharing my kitchen, values and processing techniques here because I believe that indigenous wisdom has much to teach us, and that we need to harken to its message; to follow its models, in order to thrive (let alone survive) as a species. Cal and corn are such a clear example of this. . I’m nixtamilising corn today for the first time. As I work, I feel an immense respect for the deep wisdom of our ancestral heritage.