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Old 01-01-2015, 07:33 PM   #1
The Mouth of Sauron
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Food supplies for elves

If Lorien was 100% woodland, how and where did the elves that lived there get their food and wine?

Similarly, how did travelling companies of elves like Gildor's folk feed themselves? For that matter, there is no reference to fields or orchards at Rivendell either.
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Old 01-01-2015, 07:37 PM   #2
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If Lorien was 100% woodland, how and where did the elves that lived there get their food and wine?

Similarly, how did travelling companies of elves like Gildor's folk feed themselves? For that matter, there is no reference to fields or orchards at Rivendell either.
I believe they got the bulk of their food from Seven-Elven.
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Old 01-02-2015, 02:43 AM   #3
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The simplest answer is that Lˇrien wasn't 100% woodland, and I'm not aware of any writing that supports that notion.

In fact, in the Lembas essay in the Peoples of Middle-earth we have an explicit statement that Lˇrien contained glades and clearings where Lembas at least was grown:
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The Eldar grew it in guarded lands and sunlit glades
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Old 01-02-2015, 07:34 AM   #4
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Elves frequent 7-11? Ridiculous. They're too classy. It's Wawa for them. Sammiches made to order---and on whole wheat!

But seriously, there is a problem. Elves seem to be essentially hunters-gatherers, with support from early agricultural type growing. So a question how large their numbers could be to fend off orcs---better keep that Ring of Power handy, Lady G.
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Old 05-03-2015, 10:54 AM   #5
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I think there is an essay on Lembas that says it's special corn could be grown in clearings. If it is in UT I can look it up but HoME is in storage,,, so yes Lorien probably wasn't all wooded.
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Old 05-03-2015, 12:18 PM   #6
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In any case, Lˇrien was still fairly a big place. There probably would be exactly some glades where you could grow local Elvish forest-corn, whatever it might be...

Somehow anyway, in general, the image of an Elf toiling in a field doesn't really seem all right, so I would guess the Elves would mostly live on the diet of "what the earth gives freely"; of course the regime would be probably somewhat different in hyper-effective and "technological" military states of the Noldor in the First Age.

Anyway, lembas, as we are told, was not a normal bread (such as the normal part of daily diet, something you put butter on every morning), but a kind of special travel rations for long journeys and so on. So one really did not need that much space to grow enough for the use (mostly it would probably mean supplying the guards who partroled the edges of Lˇrien, and how many would there be, especially with the diminishment of the amount of Elves present?).

As for other things mentioned in the first post, I am fairly certain at least Rivendell would have orchards, and I see no problem of a few hilltops in Lˇrien having some nice fruit trees on them. Or even if not, I can imagine the Wood-Elves thriving on a diet of 90% berries fairly well - or to be fair, hunters would have a lot to add as well, and there you have a decent diet already. (I mean, look at places such as Finland.)
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Old 05-03-2015, 12:30 PM   #7
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Inziladun is a guest of Galadriel in Lothlˇrien.Inziladun is a guest of Galadriel in Lothlˇrien.Inziladun is a guest of Galadriel in Lothlˇrien.Inziladun is a guest of Galadriel in Lothlˇrien.Inziladun is a guest of Galadriel in Lothlˇrien.
As for Elves tilling the earth, maybe Lˇrien's special situation with Galadriel helped with that.
Her gift to Sam of the "turbo" soil, which caused accelerated growth of plants, might demonstrate the capability of the Galadhrim to have crops that required a very short growth and harvest time. Lˇrien also seems to have enjoyed temperate weather even in Winter, and that can't have hurt agricultural prospects.
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Old 05-03-2015, 12:31 PM   #8
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I think elves did cultivate food from what I remember of the traditional but not binding gender role divisions in the same volume of HoME as Laws and Customs if not LACE itself. However certainly intensive agriculture seems unlikely.
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Old 05-04-2015, 04:09 PM   #9
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As for Elves tilling the earth, maybe Lˇrien's special situation with Galadriel helped with that.
Her gift to Sam of the "turbo" soil, which caused accelerated growth of plants, might demonstrate the capability of the Galadhrim to have crops that required a very short growth and harvest time. Lˇrien also seems to have enjoyed temperate weather even in Winter, and that can't have hurt agricultural prospects.
We know that the soil from Galadriel's orchard allows vegetation to grow more quickly, and we also know that Elves do cut down trees, as they have wooden boats, so I think clearings with fast growing crops are very likely.

That's Lorien sorted, but what about the Woodland Realm? Do they exist on wine, given all the barrels, or did they ever import some nibbles to go with all the booze?
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Old 05-04-2015, 05:12 PM   #10
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That's Lorien sorted, but what about the Woodland Realm? Do they exist on wine, given all the barrels, or did they ever import some nibbles to go with all the booze?
Thranduil's people were a lot of carnivorous renegades, who would have shocked their Green-Elf kin in Ossiriand into a frothing rage.
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Old 05-05-2015, 03:36 AM   #11
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That's Lorien sorted, but what about the Woodland Realm? Do they exist on wine, given all the barrels, or did they ever import some nibbles to go with all the booze?
Thanks to Mr. Baggins' thorough report of what the various Dwarves complained about, such as barrels smelling of apples, and other hints, such as some barrels being used for butter, we know that there was more than just booze. We also know that the Elven King did very often go out to ride and hunt, at least until spiders made such business too risky. What I am more curious about is what did the Elves send to the Men of Lake-Town in return, aside from burglars and exiles.

Speaking of Woodland Realm, here we have again the curious occurance - and I belive there were some threads in the past about it, but let me just mention it here - of the remark that the Wood-Elves could get wine only by trade, because "no wine grew in these parts", but they had to get it from the Men, or from their kin in the South. For the purpose of this thread: could we argue that it is supposed to mean Lˇrien, therefore it would imply that at least some of Lˇrien's soil was used for that? (Of course, the option number 2 is that it refers to some unmarked, unknown Elven enclave; or Edhellond of old, although that would be a bit outdated already by the time of the Hobbit.)
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Old 05-05-2015, 04:03 AM   #12
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Thanks to Mr. Baggins' thorough report of what the various Dwarves complained about, such as barrels smelling of apples, and other hints, such as some barrels being used for butter, we know that there was more than just booze. We also know that the Elven King did very often go out to ride and hunt, at least until spiders made such business too risky. What I am more curious about is what did the Elves send to the Men of Lake-Town in return, aside from burglars and exiles.

Speaking of Woodland Realm, here we have again the curious occurance - and I belive there were some threads in the past about it, but let me just mention it here - of the remark that the Wood-Elves could get wine only by trade, because "no wine grew in these parts", but they had to get it from the Men, or from their kin in the South. For the purpose of this thread: could we argue that it is supposed to mean Lˇrien, therefore it would imply that at least some of Lˇrien's soil was used for that? (Of course, the option number 2 is that it refers to some unmarked, unknown Elven enclave; or Edhellond of old, although that would be a bit outdated already by the time of the Hobbit.)
Tolkien was always a bit vague when it came to commerce. I sympathize with him in that he was an English and linguistics professor and most likely avoided economics and assorted mathematical quotients, ratios and percentages like the plague.

Given the Wood Elves fay characteristics in The Hobbit, with all the feasting and disappearing and such, there is very little to support them being a very reliable trade partner; that they sent the barrels back to Laketown empty indicates not much of an established bartering system, at least not by that method.

It was rather like the Shire, with their established postal system, mayors, bounders and shiriffs. Somebody had to pay these folks to beat the bounds and drop off party invitations; therefore, there must have been some sort of institutionalized hearth tax. But there was no mention of the tax collector, Gilden Moneybanks, knocking on the quaint round doors of Hobbit-holes to exact quarterly fees.
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Old 05-05-2015, 03:19 PM   #13
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It probably was of little interest to Tolkien - we also don't hear much about infrastructure and economic methods in other realms, though they clearly existed beneath the surface of the story we read, or else how could the Rohirrim buy bridles or the residents of Minas Tirith be supplied with wood or coal?

Tolkien, it should be noted, likely wasn't much interested in such things in real life; it's shocking to modern ears, but he had a wife to take care of making sure there was bread in the pantry. It's also worth noting that the cutting off of supplies or destruction of resources doesn't figure highly in the depiction of warfare in LotR. Only Saruman seems to have this in his store of tactics.
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Old 05-05-2015, 08:13 PM   #14
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It probably was of little interest to Tolkien - we also don't hear much about infrastructure and economic methods in other realms, though they clearly existed beneath the surface of the story we read, or else how could the Rohirrim buy bridles or the residents of Minas Tirith be supplied with wood or coal?

Tolkien, it should be noted, likely wasn't much interested in such things in real life; it's shocking to modern ears, but he had a wife to take care of making sure there was bread in the pantry. It's also worth noting that the cutting off of supplies or destruction of resources doesn't figure highly in the depiction of warfare in LotR. Only Saruman seems to have this in his store of tactics.
Seeing as Tolkien's own money problems caused him to sell the film rights to The Hobbit and LotR, I would tend to agree with you, Lal.

In Gondor, I would assume the economy was of a feudal nature, given various princely and lordly titles for various vassalages seemingly enfeoffed, each bringing a separate contingent (of various size and equipage, from the Prince of Dol Amroth's armored knights down to a few grim householders from Lamedon) to battle in Minas Tirith's defense.
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Old 05-06-2015, 04:20 AM   #15
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Old 05-09-2015, 03:33 AM   #16
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Somehow anyway, in general, the image of an Elf toiling in a field doesn't really seem all right, so I would guess the Elves would mostly live on the diet of "what the earth gives freely"; of course the regime would be probably somewhat different in hyper-effective and "technological" military states of the Noldor in the First Age.
It was indeed:
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...they came to a country kindly tended;
through flowery frith and fair acres
they fared, and found of folk empty
the leas and leasows and the lawns of Narog,
the teeming tilth by trees enfolded
twixt hills and river. The hoes unrecked
in the fields were flung, and fallen ladders
in the long grass lay of the lush orchards.
The scene is T˙rin and Flinding approaching the gates of Nargothrond and illustrates that at least the Noldor did practice a micture of horti- and agriculture. (This, or at least the last two and a half verses, was in some prominent Downer's signature for quite a while; don't remember whose, but that's why the quote stuck with me.)
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Old 05-10-2015, 07:26 AM   #17
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Pipe Gondor, the Shire and the Blue Mountains

Tolkien did briefly comment on the economic situations of Gondor, the Shire and the Blue Mountains in a 25th September 1954 letter to Naomi Mitchison:

Gondor has sufficient 'townlands' and fiefs with a good water and road approach tp provide for its population; and clearly has many industries though these are hardly alluded to. The Shire is placed in a water and mountain situation and a distance from the sea and a latitude that would give it a natural fertility, quite apart from the stated fact that it was a well-tended region when they took it over (no doubt with a good deal of older arts and crafts). The Shire-hobbits have no very great need of metals, but the Dwarfs are agents; and in the east of the Mountains of Lune are some of their mines (as shown in the earlier legends): no doubt the reason, or one of them, for their often crossing the Shire.
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