National Geographic : 1949 Mar
National Geographic Photographer John E.Fletcher Strife in Faraway Lands Affects Trading inNew York's Pepper Futures Market Shouting, gesturingbrokers crowd around abrass ring tobuy black pepper forlater delivery tospice grinding firms. A clerkin apulpit (left) records transactions and rings abell foropening and closing. In the past century priceshave ranged from 4to80cents apound. Early in1949 buyers hoped foragood Indian crop and awaited theoutcome ofwarfare inIndonesia. Until 1936 London's Mincing Lane was the pepper-trading capital.Then ascandal sent two speculators tojail. Ayear later theworld's largest pepper exchange opened in New York. they must be milled indifferent types of machines to attainthe desired texture and still retain strengthand flavor. Each cutting, crushing, and grinding ma chine is equipped with anautomatic feeding device. The manywheels and arms spin, thrust, and rock inaslow, stately rhythm. A third laboratorycheck follows thegrind ing and sifting, andthen thespices aretrans ferred in large hoppers totheautomatic packaging machineson astill lower floor. Here, under supervision ofneatly uniformed women, nimble metal fingers tuck thespices into small boxes andcans. A Final Touch Kills Bacteria On conveyor beltsthe containers move in a grave, never-ending procession toaroom where they are packed into cartons forship ment. Sterilizers, which killbacteria, give a final touch. The McCormick process isduplicated, initsessentials, indozens ofplants throughout theUnited States. Oldest isthe"spice mill onthemarsh," aNew England landmark since colonial days. Originally agristmill, this plant was erected in1734 onRumney Marsh, near Boston. The colonists threw adam across Mill Creek and diverted tidal waters into asluiceway toprovide power. For many years themill was operated asacommunity project, grinding thegrain brought infrom farms. In1827 Henry Slade acquired ashare intheproperty, and under him themill began togrind snuff, too. Inthose days themill was asort ofclear inghouse, where thefarmer transacted much ofhisbusiness. When hisgrain was ground, hepaid fortheservice with themiller's "dole" -apercentage ofthemeal. The miller often traded tobacco, wool, and other commodities forthefarmer's corn.