Word of Mouth
1:49 pm
Mon May 19, 2014

5.19.14: Civil War Re-enactors, Saving The Wild Apple, and Arsenic In Rice

Credit WalterPro4755 via Flickr Creative Commons

In 1986 there were an estimated 50,000 Civil War re-enactors in the U.S. Since 2000 their ranks have been cut in half. Today on Word of Mouth: the decline of Civil War reenactments, and what drives someone to take on the identity of a 19th century solider. Plus, after millennia of selective breeding, there are now over 3000 known varieties of apple. But, are our beloved Galas and Honeycrisps in peril? Why the extinction of wild apple species in central Asia could spell disaster for their descendants. And, when it comes to rice, why brown may not be the healthier.

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Civil War Re-enactors

In 1986, there were an estimated 50,000 civil re-enactors, but their numbers are in sharp decline. In fact, since 2000 their ranks have been cut in half. Our guest is Jesse Marx, he wrote an article for Narratively  called “Join, or Die” that explores the rise and fall of Civil War re-enactors, and follows one regiment as it heads into battle.

Return to Gettysburg

Gettysburg is now a set piece for re-enactors, but let’s pause for a moment to consider what happened in the fields and forests there. In July of 1863, the three-day battle claimed the lives of more than 50,000 Union and Confederate soldiers. a staggering number.  As the years pass, those troops tend to appear in sepia-tones, but consider this: the last surviving Civil War veteran died in 1956…less than 60 years ago.  Nate Dimeo of The Memory Palace brings us this story about Civil War veterans returning to Gettysburg in 1913, 50 years after that three day battle.

Playground History

We’ve considered Americas' past through the eyes of re-enactors, returning veterans of the Civil War…and now through the eyes of its youngest citizens.  Stephanie Coleman has the story of a slightly inaccurate, yet highly illuminating rendering of Americas' past.

Saving Wild Apples

After millennia of selective breeding, there are now over 3000 known varieties of apple. But, are our beloved Galas and Honeycrisps in peril? Josie Glausiusz wrote about why the extinction of wild apple species in central Asia could spell disaster for their descendants. Her article "Apples of Eden: Saving the Wild Ancestor of Modern Apples" is part of National Geographic's special eight-month Future of Food series.

The Potato Ball Caper

For this story we go back to August 31, 1987, when one of baseball's most peculiar plays took place in the Minor Leagues in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. It was a variation of the age-old hidden ball trick, except it involved a hidden potato. Producer Dan Collison, spoke to the man responsible for the play, and two people who witnessed the potato ball caper.

The Downside of Brown Rice

Even if you try to avoid all the bad processed stuff and drink bottled water and eat lots of veggies and brown rice, you could be ingesting high doses of Arsenic, Cadmium, and other heavy metals – especially in brown rice. Our guest is Mary Lou Guerinot, she is a molecular geneticist and professor of biology at Dartmouth College.

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