The war in Ukraine has highlighted the dangers of dependence on a number of crops traded worldwide.
Given that 90% of calories come from just 15 crops, experts at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew, London, are looking for ingredients to ensure a safe diet for the future, according to the BBC.
Climate change increases the risk of severe “food shocks” if crops collapse and commodity prices rise rapidly around the world.
Diversifying the food we eat is one of the solutions to alleviate hunger, combat biodiversity loss and help adapt to climate change, says Kew researcher Dr. Sam Pirinon.
“We know that there are thousands of edible plant species around the world that are consumed by different populations, and here we can find some of the solutions to these global challenges of the future,” he says.
Of the more than 7,000 edible plants worldwide, only 417 are widely grown and used for food.
Pandanus (Pandanus tectorius) is a small tree that grows in the coastal areas of the Pacific Islands to the Philippines. The leaves are used to flavor sweet and savory foods in much of Southeast Asia, while pineapple-like fruits can be eaten raw or cooked.
The tree can withstand difficult conditions, including drought and strong winds, says researcher Marybel Soto Gomez.
Beans are another “food of the future.” It is inexpensive, rich in protein and B vitamins, adapted to a wide range of environments. There are 20,000 species of legumes in the world, but we only use a few.
Cereals also have a huge diversity, with over 10,000 species, which offers huge potential for new foods. Fonio (Digitaria exilis) is a nutritious African cereal used to make couscous, porridge and drinks. The plant can tolerate dry conditions.
Enset or “fake banana” is a close relative of banana, but is consumed only in part of Ethiopia. studies suggest that this banana-like crop has the potential to feed more than 100 million people in a warming world.
Source: Jurnalul by jurnalul.ro.
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