Das Silmaril: Tolkienian Economics Part II – Tolkien Elves Are Not Vegetarians

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It has been some time since I started a look at the Economics of Middle-earth. It’s still something I intend to get around to pursuing, but it’s very much a matter of finding the right time…

Today, I thought I would tangentially revisit the issue by looking at a certain aspect of Elvish dietary habits (with the subsidiary economic issue of where, exactly, the food in question comes from. We may scratch our heads about the food supplies of Angband, but the Elves at least are accounted for when it comes to protein intake). More specifically, I thought I would put to bed the all-too common notion that Tolkien’s Elves are vegetarian.

No, the Elves eat meat. Which they obtain via hunting. There is no evidence of an Elvish meat industry as such – nor do they appear to import (salted) meat products – but they most certainly do hunt, with the game ending up on the dinner table. This holds true for both High Elves and Wood Elves, with one notable cultural exception.

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Peter Jackson has, alas, created quite the wrong impression about the Quendi…

You see, Jackson’s Elves – tending to be blond – are highly ethereal creatures. Nature-loving, refined, and, based off An Unexpected Journey, vegetarian. Or maybe even vegan. The dinner they serve up to the Dwarves at Rivendell is noticeably devoid of meat. And as fun as it is to imagine the Elves of Rivendell mischievously hiding meat dishes from the Dwarves, the implication of the scene is pretty clear. Dwarves are slobby, uncultured meat-eaters, whereas Elves are snobby, cultured, vegetarians. Jackson’s Elves are Spiritually Closer To Nature.

Nothing wrong with this as an adaptation choice, of course. It’s just that, combined with modern fantasy stereotypes about Elves in general, you end up with people thinking that Tolkien’s original Elves are also vegetarian. The evidence suggests otherwise.

The Hobbit, of which I have just finished my first re-read since the Jackson adaptation came out (yes, it has been some time), is Ground Zero for omnivorous Elves:

The smell of the roast meats was so enchanting…

Bilbo and the hungry Dwarves have been lured off the path by Thranduil’s Woodland feasting. Aforementioned feast explicitly features meat.

There in the king’s dungeon poor Thorin lay; and after he had got over his thankfulness for bread and meat and water, he began to wonder what had become of his unfortunate friends.

The Woodland Elves of Mirkwood provide meat for a prisoner. This is unlikely to have been simply sitting in storage, waiting for guests. Again, the implication is pretty clear.

(I do think it interesting that Thorin is not provided with apples. He’s a prisoner, so he’s not getting wine, but an apple would make sense… until you realise that apples are imported products in the Woodland Realm. Maybe domestically-hunted meat leftovers are simply more convenient prison-food than imported barrel-apples?)

In fact, based off The Hobbit, it appears that hunting is a major cultural (and economic) activity for the Elves of Mirkwood:

They dwelt most often by the edges of the woods, from which they could escape at times to hunt

In fact the subjects of the king mostly lived and hunted in the open woods

Companies of the Wood-elves, sometimes with the king at their head, would from time to time ride out to hunt

These Elves don’t do agriculture, so far as we know. They literally live off the produce of the forest – of which meat is a staple – and trade for items they do not produce locally (apples, wine, and butter). It is never made clear how Thranduil’s folk actually pay for these imports, though with The Hobbit referencing tolls, maybe the Elves collect taxes from human merchants trading up and down the River Running? Combine that with possible exports of animal skins, furs, timber, and salted venison, and one potentially sees how the Elves pay their way. If I were feeling snarky, I’d also suggest that a fair amount of outright thievery takes place too.

(Seriously. Re-reading The Hobbit makes it very clear that Thorin’s point is actually pretty reasonable. Bard has a decent case for arguing that Lake Town needs humanitarian aid, but his request is not helped by sending an army to Erebor. The Elvenking has no claim to the treasure at all, and Thorin is totally justified in telling him to bugger off. Bilbo’s Love Affair with the Elves (Quendiphilia?) turns him into an unreliable narrator. But I digress).

So much for the Elves of The Hobbit. We get nothing explicit about Elvish meat-eating (or hunting) in The Lord of the Rings, but we do get this from Lothlórien:

‘You had no need of your burdens,’ said Haldir. ‘It is cold in the tree-tops in winter, though the wind tonight is in the South; but we have food and drink to give you that will drive away the night-chill, and we have skins and cloaks to spare.’

The hobbits accepted this second (and far better) supper very gladly. Then they wrapped themselves warmly, not only in the fur-cloaks of the Elves

Galadriel’s people have supplies of fur cloaks. While it is possible that these are imported (from Thranduil?), the logical inference is that the Elves of Lothlórien hunt. Since they have the skins and furs, the notion that they eat the meat is pretty reasonable.

Moreover, we also get this, from Flotsam and Jetsam:

“And you need not turn up your nose at the provender, Master Gimli,” said Merry. “This is not orc-stuff, but man-food, as Treebeard calls it. Will you have wine or beer? There’s a barrel inside there – very passable. And this is first-rate salted pork. Or I can cut you some rashers of bacon and broil them, if you like. I am sorry there is no green stuff: the deliveries have been rather interrupted in the last few days! I cannot offer you anything to follow but butter and honey for your bread. Are you content?’
‘Indeed yes,’ said Gimli. ‘The score is much reduced.’
The three were soon busy with their meal; and the two hobbits, unabashed, set to a second time. ‘We must keep our guests company,’ they said.

No green stuff, yet Legolas – one of the aforementioned three – is happy enough to eat these supplies. It is possible that he sticks to bread and honey, rather than the pork and bacon, but in the absence of evidence, I would say he seems as happy with eating meat as Aragorn or Gimli. Saruman, of course, is a one-man trade network (maybe he developed Economics in-between the Engineering?), but since today’s post is Elvish orientated, that must wait for another day.

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Turning to First Age material, we find an explicit reference to Thingol serving up meats at a feast:

On a time was Turin at the table of Thingol
there was laughter long and the loud clamour
of a countless company that quaffed the mead,
amid the wine of Dor-Winion that went ungrudged
in their golden goblets; and goodly meats
there burdened the boards, neath the blazing torches

(This is found in The History of Middle-earth Volume III: The Lays of Beleriand. Alas, there is no such reference in the 1977 published Silmarillion. Note that since Doriath is, via the Girdle of Melian, generally inhospitable to trade, one would suggest that its economic model is that of autarky. This meat was sourced locally. Which means hunting, and not just from Beleg the Strongbow).

In the published Silmarillion, explicit hunting is very much associated with the Sons of Fëanor. In fact, six out of the seven are noted as engaging in hunting – the only exception being Caranthir. Cue new head-canon: Caranthir is the family vegetarian.

and the youngest Amrod and Amras, who were twin
brothers, alike in mood and face. In later days they were
great hunters in the woods of Middle-earth; and a hunter
also was Celegorm, who in Valinor was a friend of Oromë,
and often followed the Vala’s horn.

It chanced that Celegorm and Curufin went on a hunt
through the Guarded Plain; and this they did because
Sauron, being filled with suspicion, sent forth many wolves
into the Elf-lands. Therefore they took their hounds and
rode forth; and they thought that ere they returned they
might also hear tidings concerning King Felagund.

When three hundred years and more were gone since
the Noldor came to Beleriand, in the days of the Long
Peace, Finrod Felagund lord of Nargothrond journeyed
east of Sirion and went hunting with Maglor and Maedhros,
sons of Feanor.

This snippets also reveal additional information. First off, Celegorm learns hunting from Oromë himself. Now, Oromë is noted to be a hunter of monsters, rather than a hunter of food, and I think it unlikely he actually ate these evil critters… but Celegorm picks up knowledge of birds and beasts from him, and Celegorm is hardly Yavanna in how he views the natural world. He also hunts with hounds.

Apart from the Sons of Fëanor and Finrod Felagund (and Beleg), we also have a further First Age lover of hunting: Aredhel.

[Aredhel] was tall and strong, and loved much to ride and hunt in
the forests. There she was often in the company of the sons
of Fëanor, her kin; but to none was her heart’s love given.

I think it interesting that so strongly is hunting associated with the Sons of Fëanor, that they become something of an attraction. No-one ever goes hunting with Fingolfin or Fingon.

Now, we have absolutely no idea about Elvish agriculture in Beleriand, and there is certainly an element of recreation here (of course. These characters are aristocrats. Hunting as sport is what they do), but there is also some evidence that the lower order Elves hunt too:

Now as has been told the power of Elwe and Melian
increased in Middle-earth, and all the Elves of Beleriand,
from the mariners of Cirdan to the wandering hunters of the
Blue Mountains beyond the River Gelion, owned Elwe as
their lord

Thus the sons of Feanor under Maedhros were the
lords of East Beleriand, but their people were in that time
mostly in the north of the land, and southward they rode only
to hunt in the greenwoods.

‘Wandering hunters of the Blue Mountains’ makes it sound like an Elvish version of Deliverance, but from the context, these are isolated figures who sustain themselves via hunting. In contrast to the elite Elves of the royal houses, this is likely more about livelihood than recreation. One could easily imagine them trading furs and meat with Dwarves and Men.

I mentioned one exception to the evidence that Tolkien’s Elves are omnivorous. I refer to the Green-elves of Ossiriand:

Now the Green-elves of Ossiriand were troubled by the
coming of Men, and when they heard that a lord of the Eldar
from over the Sea was among them they sent messengers
to Felagund. ‘Lord,’ they said, ‘if you have power over these
newcomers, bid them return by the ways that they came, or
else to go forward. For we desire no strangers in this land
to break the peace in which we live. And these folk are
hewers of trees and hunters of beasts; therefore we are
their unfriends, and if they will not depart we shall afflict
them in all ways that we can.’

These vegetarian Elves object to pesky Men cutting down trees and hunting beasts. Which would actually correspond to the Jacksonian idea of Elves living in Harmony With Nature. There is just one small problem – Finrod Felagund, the figure they are appealing to, is explicitly a hunter of beasts himself. Cue hypocrisy.

(Also, since the Green-Elves do not cut wood or hunt, this raises serious questions about their economic model. Since mining, stone-work, or agriculture are likely out, do they literally sustain themselves via living in caves and eating fungi and berries? Does fishing count as hunting? The other prominent vegetarian Tolkien character, Beorn, has much more clarity about how he sustains himself. The Green-Elves could conceivably have bee-hives, and export honey, but they seem too secretive for that…).

**

So yeah. A strangely specific blog post today, but I hope I have conclusively demonstrated that Tolkien’s Elves are not generally vegetarians. Indeed, The Hobbit – far and away the most interesting source for Tolkienian Economics  – makes it quite clear that meat (and the obtaining thereof) is an integral part of the Mirkwood economy. When the Wood-Elves aren’t kidnapping helpless Dwarves and mooching for treasure, they are a hunting and trading society. The First Age Elves of Beleriand have a much more aristocratic and recreational air to their activities, but they too very likely obtain their protein from game animals. Eru only knows how those Green-Elf Hippies manage though…

(Thinking more about Beorn… he has his beehives, and eats copious amounts of bread. Well and good. He’s also an extreme loner, and moonlights as a grizzly bear. So why on earth does he have a stockpile of bows and arrows on hand to gift to the Dwarves? He doesn’t hunt himself!).

11 thoughts on “Das Silmaril: Tolkienian Economics Part II – Tolkien Elves Are Not Vegetarians

  1. Very thorough! One thing to add is that forests can produce all kinds of food that aren’t necessarily visible to modern-era Europeans like Bilbo and Frodo. Eric Toensmeier has made a career out of reconstructing food-bearing forest polycultures in Eastern North America. (My own experiments along those lines have proven that if you plant food plants, they’ll attract all kinds of hungry animals, which brings us back to carnivory.)
    It amuses me to think that Thranduil threw Thorin & Co in jail not so much for disturbing the Elves’ feast as for trampling their pantry in the process.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. OTOH there’s concern that “bush-meat”, which is a staple e.g. in parts of Africa, could have a role in cross-species virus transmission. This from 2015, when it was implicated in Ebola:

    “Bushmeat—wild bats, pigs, rodents, monkeys, antelope, and occasionally apes—is widely accepted as the source of the recent epidemic, and was banned in countries hardest-hit by the virus after it was traced back to a toddler in Guinea who likely contracted Ebola from an infected straw-coloured fruit bat.”

    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/world-on-a-plate/2015/jul/10/is-it-time-to-bring-back-bushmeat

    I wonder though if the real reason for JRRT’s reluctance to specify the basis of Elvish subsistence is that actual, traditional Elfonomics was based on theft of farm produce: for example the milk from cows or the grain from wheat. These practices are quaintly detailed in the confession of Andro Man, one of the accused in the Aberdeen witch-trials of 1597-8:

    “ITEM, Thow affermis thow can tak avay a kowis milk when thow pleissis [when you please] … Thow grantis and affermis, that the fruict of the cornes is takin away, be stryping the crop of the stray [straw], and casting it amang the rest of the corne, be saying thir wordis, The dirt to the [thee], and the crop to me, nyn sindrie tymes…”

    As I’ve written before I’m pretty sure Tolkien knew this source: The Miscellany of the Spalding Club Vol 1, Aberdeen 1841, p.121

    https://books.google.co.uk/books?redir_esc=y&q=elphis&id=6-Y9AQAAMAAJ&output=text#v=snippet&q=elphis&f=false

    Andro Man was a man-witch, not an elf. However his career was sponsored by a woman known as the Queen of Elphame (queen of Elfland). We hear about real elves and their ability to conjure somewhat insubstantial revelry:

    “Thow affermis that the elphis hes schapes and claythis lyk men, and that thay will have fair coverit taiblis … the elphis will mak the appeir to be in a fair chalmer [chamber], and yit thow will find thy selff in a moss [a peat-bog] on the morne … thay will appeir to have candlis, and licht, and swordis, quhilk [which] wilbe nothing els bot deed grass and strayes [dead grass and straw]…”

    The fairy feast evidently held a fascination for Tolkien. In manuscript workings for ‘On fairy-stories’ he references the dedicatory poem of Andrew Lang’s Blue Fairy Book (1889), ‘To Elspeth Angela Campbell’ (a Scottish noblewoman then aged 16):

    For you ere now have wandered o’er
    A world of tales untold of yore…

    And you once more may voyage through
    The forests that of old we knew…

    And sit at feast with fairy Kings,
    And taste their wine, ere all be done…

    Ay, of that feast shall tales be told,
    The marvels of that world of gold

    On the other hand the Elvenking’s hunt bears a similarity to the fairy hunt encountered by Prince Pwyll in the Mabinogion. The Mabinogion’s fairy hounds have shining white coats, which are transferred to the Mirkwood hind and fawns (without the red ears). The fairy king is Arawn, who was possibly recycled (in ROTK 5,I) as Araw, the Sindarin name of the Vala huntsman Orome

    https://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/celt/mab/mab20.htm

    =================

    OT: that’s good news from New Zealand about containing the virus. Meanwhile Boris has rematerialised on the doorstep of Number 10, somewhat in the fashion of the angel appearing to Daniel after contending twenty-one days with the Prince of Persia:

    Now I am come to make thee understand what shall befall thy people in the latter days: for yet the vision is for many days (Daniel 10:14)

    He thanked foreign secretary and first secretary of state (effectively deputy PM), Dominic Raab, evidently in the role of the helpful archangel Michael. Strangely other angels such as Hancock (the health secretary) weren’t name-checked

    Liked by 2 people

  3. There is actually one reference to some form of agriculture from the Elves of Beleriand : there are orchards in front of Nargothrond in the Lay of the Children of Hurin :

    The hoes unrecked
    in the fields were flung, and fallen ladders
    in the long grass lay of the lush orchards;
    every tree there turned its tangled head
    and eyed them secretly, and the ears listened
    of the nodding grasses

    Also the idea that the meat on Thingol’s table come from inside Doriath because of the kingdom’s isolationnism is kind of contradicted by the mention of wine from Dor-winion in the same sentence. That being said the wine having the same origin than the alcohool consumed by Thranduil’s elves mean that Dor-Winion wouldn’t have been mentionned in a later version of this text.

    In fact one could argue that both text coming from The Lays of Beleriand shouldn’t be taken too seriously. It’s clear that some aspects would have been written differently (for instance ravens are an evil folk here while they became good in The Hobbit). But it’s also a very rich text on many aspects otherwise not treated in The Silmarillion.

    As for the Green Elves I believe they eat fruits, berries, mushrooms, all that is enough to sustain a people of gatherers. May be also the flesh of the Petty Dwarves since they used to hunt those …

    As for the economy of the Elves The Lost Tales also mentions goat with bells together with Elves. That and the mentions of horse-breeding in Hithlum make the Elves herders as well.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Excellent points. I also note that Thingol’s feast has mead. So either Doriath has beehives, or someone else does (which strengthens the notion of alcohol being a traded substance in Beleriand, and also suggests the consumption of honey products).

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    • I think it’s the Sindar who used to hunt the Petty-dwarves[1], not the Nadorin Laiquendi (Green-elves) who filtered in later.

      [1] I guess thinking they were a kind of ape or something.

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  4. An interesting point is that (adult) elves may have need of less food than mortals. Since they neither die (unless killed) or age, one have to suppose that their different relation between hroa and fea means that the cells in their body doesn’t wear down like ours, and that that thus would need less (unless they suffer blood loss etc) replenishing of proteins and minerals than we do. And I also guess they need less carbohydrates; while they need some, things like poetry (to hobbits despair) and the smell of green grass etc seems to give them a real injection of energy. Even that an example of how their relation between hroa and fea is different then our. If I am correct, then a certain amount of food production could carry a much larger population of elves compared to humans. Which seems fit what we know of the elven realms.

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  5. “Bard has a decent case for arguing that Lake Town needs humanitarian aid, but his request is not helped by sending an army to Erebor. The Elvenking has no claim to the treasure at all”

    No one thought the dwarves had survived (the elven birds apparently didn’t get close enough for a detailed report), so the Elvenking had started out just to grab unclaimed treasure. As good a claim as anyone, eh? (Ignoring Dain.) Then he’d diverted to actually *give* humanitarian aid to Lake-town, and come up with Bard, after which I think he was mostly supporting Bard, not making his own demands, and he was also the leader most reluctant to fight over gold. “Long will I tarry, ere I begin this war for gold.”

    Earlier than that:

    > “In the name of Esgaroth and the Forest,” one cried, “we speak unto Thorin Thrain’s son Oakenshield, calling himself the King under the Mountain, and we bid him consider well the claims that have been urged, or be declared our foe. At the least he shall deliver one twelfth portion of the treasure unto Bard, as the dragon-slayer, and as the heir of Girion. From that portion Bard will himself contribute to the aid of Esgaroth; but if Thorin would have the friendship and honour of the lands about, as his sires had of old, then he will give also somewhat of his own for the comfort of the men of the Lake.”

    No demand for the elves; presumably Bard might make gifts to the Elvenking, if he could.

    Thorin really isn’t the reasonable one here; as Bard pointed out, the hoard of Smaug included the wealth of Dale.

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  6. Regarding Wood Elves and agriculture, there is some leeway to interpret here that they might do some:

    “nor did they bother much with trade or with tilling the earth”, but we see they DO trade, so ‘bother much’ just means not particularly time consuming activity, also there is a thing about the lembas, the Wood Elves of Mirkwood were also in part elves of the Great Journey, so they might have knowledge about growing the special plant for grain to make them:

    “‘This food the Eldar alone knew how to make. It was made for the comfort of those who had need to go upon a long journey in the wild, or of the hurt whose life was in peril. Only these were permitted to use it. The Eldar did not give it to Men, save only to a few whom they loved, if they were in great need.*

    The Eldar say that they first received this food from the Valar in the beginning of their days in the Great Journey. For it was made of a kind of corn which Yavanna brought forth in the fields of Aman, and some she sent to them by the hand of Oromë for their succour upon the long march.

    Since it came from Yavanna, the queen, or the highest among the elven-women of any people, great or small, had the keeping and gift of the lembas, for which reason she was called massánie or besain: the Lady, or breadgiver.†

    Now this corn had in it the strong life of Aman, which it could impart to those who had the need and right to use the bread. If it was sown at any season, save in frost, it soon sprouted and grew swiftly, though it did not thrive in the shadow of plants of Middle-earth and would not endure winds that came out of the North while Morgoth dwelt there. Else it needed only a little sunlight to ripen; for it took swiftly and multiplied all the vigour of any light that fell on it.

    The Eldar grew it in guarded lands and sunlit glades; and they gathered its great golden ears, each one, by hand, and set no blade of metal to it. The white haulm was drawn from the earth in like manner, and woven into corn-leep‡ for the storing of the grain: no worm or gnawing beast would touch that gleaming straw, and rot and mould and other evils of Middle-earth did not assail it.

    From the ear to the wafer none were permitted to handle this grain, save those elven-women who were called Yavannildi (or by the Sindar the Ivonwin),¤ the maidens of Yavanna; and the art of the making of the lembas, which they learned of the Valar, was a secret among them, and so ever has remained.'”

    The forest clearings (we do know that Wood Elves of Mirkwood occassionaly felled trees and we see them especially sending that timber down river to help build shelters for Esgaroth refugees) and open lands on the edge of the wood could serve here, if not for ‘lembas white corn’ then for other crops, plus the Mirkwood forest is known to have some edible stuffs (but here the shadow covering the forest is corrupting living things so sometimes stuff might not be edible as dwarves found out with those black squirrels). The elves natural skill with plants would probably allow them to have much crop from relatively little amount of land there’s also the elven magic to consider, Elves are clearly capable of far greater feats and they have sheer talent for growing crops and food production, if we take in account the Galadriel’s gift of box of soil from “her orchard” (Mirkwood Elves may have no apple trees nearby that’s why they import apples but there are other possibilties, Beorn mentions nuts and there might be woodland berries of some sort, if edible nuts then maybe also…nut butter 🙂 heheh.

    ““Their plans were soon made. With the women and the children, the old and the unfit, the master remained behind; and with him were men of crafts and many skilled elves; and they busied themselves felling trees, and collecting the timber sent down from the forest. Then they set about raising many huts by the shore; and also under the master’s direction they began the planning of a new town, designed more fair and large even than before, but not in the same place. They removed northwards higher up the shore;”

    “Water is not easy to find there, nor food. The time is not yet come for nuts (though it may be past and gone indeed before you get to the other side), and nuts are about all that grows there fit for…”

    Also another thing while we’re told the Wood Elves do not mine, there is possibilty of them just…panning for gold and silver in the Forest River (it has sources in Ered Mithrin, the Grey Mountains which are rich in gold, the sources of the river could wash up some gold or silver lodes and then the gold in form of dust or nuggets would accumulate over the shallows and bends of the river and elves could occassionaly find it, this would also explain this:

    “In ancient days they had had wars with some of the dwarves, whom they accused of stealing their treasure. It is only fair to say that the dwarves gave a different account, and said that they only took what was their due, for the elf-king had bargained with them to shape his raw gold and silver, and had afterwards refused to give them their pay.”

    If we assume this is about Elvenking Thranduil (and not a reference to Thingol :)) then this could explain where would he get ‘raw gold and silver’.

    Elvenking did not issue his claim to the treasure when Thorin’s company was revealed to be alive, they all thought he was dead, and Elvenking Thranduil clearly knew that securing the treasure is better overall, not only a vast wealth would benefit himself but he would also protect the peace in the region, he clearly knew that unguarded treasure would bring out a lot of trouble, think of all the adventurers and bandits and robbers that would flock to the mountain, it would be also part of larger policy and prudent move, but once the dwarves were revealed to survive he only supported claim of Bard, mainly because he needed compensation to the Lake-men and also Bard already had plans to rebuild Dale and some portion of the treasure in the mountain was said to belong to Dale and it’s people:

    ” I am by right descent the heir of Girion of Dale, and in your hoardis mingled much of the wealth ofhis halls and towns, whichof old Smaug stole.”

    So it would seem Bard had a rightful claim, as well as being a Dragonslayer so a fee for his deed would be expected ;).

    Galadriel box of soil is also this one example which seems to indicate the Elves may have greater powers in magical sense regarding agriculture:

    ” In this box there is earth from my orchard, and such blessing as Galadriel has still to bestow is upon it. It will not keep you on your road, nor defend you against any peril; but if you keep it and see your home again at last, then perhaps it may reward you. Though you should find all barren and laid waste, there will be few gardens in Middle-earth that will bloom like your garden, if you sprinkle this earth there.”

    This small box of dust caused entire Year of Plenty in the Shire, increased the fertility of the land enormously. Even if Galadriel’s abilties in this would be exceptional, we can imagine that other elves had some measure of such powers, even much weaker and that still would be enormous help and allow elves to make their agriculture far more efficient, with far smaller area of land used to till than among mortals. And besides elven foods are just that nourishing:

    “Pippin afterwards recalled little of either food or drink, for his mind was filled with the light upon the elf-faces, and the sound of voices so various and so beautiful that he felt in a waking dream. But he remembered that there was bread, surpassing the savour of a fair white loaf to one who is starving; and fruits sweet as wildberries and richer than the tended fruits of gardens; he drained a cup that was filled with a fragrant draught, cool as a clear fountain, golden as a summer afternoon.

    Sam could never describe in words, nor picture clearly to himself, what he felt or thought that night, though it remained in his memory as one of the chief events of his life. The nearest he ever got was to say: ‘Well, sir, if I could grow apples like that, I would call myself a gardener.”

    “They halted under an elm tree: its leaves though fast turning yellow were still thick, and the ground at its feel was fairly dry and sheltered. When they came to make their meal, they found that the Elves had filled their bottles with a clear drink, pale golden in colour: it had the scent of a honey made of many flowers, and was wonderfully refreshing. Very soon they were laughing, and snapping their fingers at rain, and at Black Riders. The last few miles, they felt, would soon be behind them.”

    Of course those were different group of Elves, the High Elves, Noldor, so they may have more refined knowledge and skill than Wood Elves and certainly greater ‘power’.

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    • Another thing it might be that the Green Elves/Laiquendi notion of being ‘vegetarians’ is actually overblown, or more of an implication that readers get, but in truth the main issue would be that Green Elves ‘hostility’ to Edain is due to their unrestrained use of the resources in the area which disturbed the elves, Men simply were too voracious with their activities while Green Elves were moderate and more in line with nature, they might have hunted themselves but did it in a way which not harmed environment as much (they might not have cut down trees at all, unlike other wood dwelling elves, even Sindar needed wood and Wood Elves of Mirkwood are seen cutting down trees and in the places of their feasts they sat on stumps of trees: “…all dressed in green and brown and sitting on sawn rings of the felled trees in a great circle”). Beorn and Beren (at one point when he befriended many animals) are the only specific examples of vegetarians’ ‘vegans’ in Middle-earth and both are Men.

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