Farming Without Sun or Soil and Eating Manna From Heaven: TMSIDK Episode 35

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Gold Cobblestone Lichen grows in an Arizona desert. Similar lichens could have been the Biblical “manna from heaven.” (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

The actual “manna from heaven” that Israelites ate in the desert was nothing more than fancy fungus. Probably.

As James Lendemer from the New York Botanical Gardens argues, there are two species of edible lichens — fungi with beneficial algae living inside them — that grow in the region through which the Israelites travelled. The lichens puff up like cauliflower in the morning dew and then bake brown in the desert sun.

This week, we work on our survival skills: in the desert, on the tundra, and growing food in abandoned warehouses. Actress Sas Goldberg is co-host; AJ Jacobs (author of It’s All Relative) is live fact-checker.