American Heirlooms - September 2019

George Washington Carver’s life story is as much about struggle as success. Though he’s known today as a famous 19th-century botanist who pioneered crop diversification in the American South and invented hundreds of plant-based products made with peanuts and sweet potatoes, Carver was born a slave in the midst of the Civil War. Sometime near 1864, the future scientist was born in Diamond, Missouri, on land belonging to Moses Carver. His troubles began early when, at a week old, he was kidnapped from the farm, ferried to Arkansas, and then sold in Kentucky with his family. In the end, Carver (who then had no last name) was found and returned to his master’s farm alone — his mother and sister weren’t recovered. Young Carver was freed when the Civil War ended, and his former master raised him as a son, but, because he was African-American, he had trouble getting an education. Missouri’s schools refused to take black students, so Carver was forced to get his high school diploma in Kansas. When he was admitted to college, his acceptance offer was rescinded when administrators realized his race.

Still, Carver persisted. Because he’d been barred from studying, he traveled to Simpson College in Iowa to learn about music and art, and it was his drawings of plants that spurred him to continue his education in botany and agriculture. From then on, this star quickly ascended. As a teacher, researcher, and prodigious inventor, Carver went on to work for Booker T. Washington and advise President Theodore Roosevelt. Throughout his work as a scientist, Carver remained a religious man with a strong belief in Creationism. He often mentioned God and the Bible in his lectures and credited the Creator with his many achievements. When an Atlanta Journal reporter asked him about one of his inventions, Carver said, “All I do is prepare what God has made for uses to which man can put it. It is God’s work — not mine.”

Today, Carver’s life and career remain monuments to what can be achieved when science and creation are considered as one.

Unlike standard ice cream recipes, this delicious sorbet doesn’t require fancy equipment or difficult prep. It’s also entirely dairy- free, making it the perfect vegan treat for the end of summer.


6 cups frozen mixed berries

• •

1 cup sugar

1 cup fresh basil leaves

3/4 cup fresh lemon juice


In a saucepan over high heat, combine sugar with 1 cup of water, stirring occasionally until sugar dissolves, creating a syrup-like consistency. 2. Remove syrup from heat, add basil, cover, and let stand for 15 minutes. Strain syrup into bowl and refrigerate until cold. 3. In a blender, combine syrup with frozen berries and lemon juice. Purée until smooth. 4. Transfer to a square baking pan, cover in plastic wrap, and freeze until set, about 2 hours. 5. Scoop and serve.

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