In last week’s episode of the Constant Wonder podcast of BYU Radio, I talked with host Marcus Smith about the World War II story of cork and how a natural material got swept up in industry and national security.
Marcus brought out intriguing points including the spongy feel of the tree’s bark, the wildlife that inhabit cork oak forests in Spain and Portugal, the motive of self-reliance that prompted Americans to plant cork oak trees, and the trade wars that can churn alongside world conflicts. There are parallels today in trade wars involving natural items such as the rare earth minerals found in your cell phone, which come almost entirely from China.
That conversation provided a good set-up for an evening with the Spy Museum at Cork Wine Bar, where co-owner Diane Gross introduced the Portuguese wineries that produced the vintages on the tables. We talked about the sequence that landed Portugal at the center of geopolitical and trade tensions in the early 1940s.