How Good Is Your Food ?
30% of the world’s population are suffering disease and malnutrition. Most suffer malnutrition whilst surrounded by nutritious food plants. Some drive past perfectly good food plants on our way to the shops to buy less-fresh foods. (Did you know there are thousands of edible and nutritious flowers?)
Malnutrition is a global issue
New studies reveal powerful revelations about nutrition and food choices. We celebrate discoveries like ‘1 taro leaf can give enough good food to feed 3 children.’
But let’s be honest about malnutrition. This is not a third-world issue. In fact, coupled with the obesity epidemic, malnutrition could be worse in the developed nations.
It’s all about recognising a good food source when we see it. Bruce French, founder of Food Plants Int [FPI], first noticed this disconnect in Papua New Guinea.
“It wasn’t that the locals didn’t know anything about their food plants, but there were clearly a lot more edible plants than were readily recognised” Bruce writes.
There are now some comprehensive research databases about food plants. Plants For a Future and Neglected Underutilized Species Scientific organisation have also set out to document the food plants worldwide and run international conferences.
GMO’s Can Give A Great Big Bundle of Nothing
Modern agriculture measures success by volume and not by nutritional value. And so, mechanised farming is geared to maximise the yield. Industrial farming needs predictability and conformity yet healthy societies need variety and nutrition.
Bruce French said “when we breed for yield we get a great big bundle of nothing”. If we want to get more than just nutrient-depleted fibre, we need to look to food species that grow happily in our bio-region and use farming techniques that care for the soil. Crops for a future based in Malaysia researches the effects of different cropping systems and under-utilised food species.
Let Us Eat Weeds
Bruce met a woman in Cambodia who was weeding out Momienh (Cleome gynandra). She said, “Everyone else tells me it’s a weed. They say pull it out to grow some cabbages and lettuces.” Bruce told her “Momienh is far more nutritious than western vegetables.” She was so pleased. She said, “No-one’s ever told me that before. I didn’t know. I thought it was just a local plant that was very unimportant.”
In her presentation on secrets of humble plants, botanist Gurib-Fakim shows how weeds can feed and provide medicines.
Grounds For Good Food
World Bank & UN stated that Genetic Modified crops, aiming for higher yeild, are not the way to address world hunger. What we do need is to maintain healthy soils. Intelligent and educated farming can preserve the nutrients. Healthy Soil a living, dynamic system. We now know that the old subsistence farming method of ‘slashing and burning’ destroys the natural fertiliser. Nitrogen and Sulfur are lost – going up with the smoke. Only potash is left. There is no quick answer. The methods need to fit the situation. But the best step is education. When we make nutrition our goal, we find ways to hold nutrients in the soil, in our food and cycled it back with care.
Bring in the evergreen revolution. Permaculture design invests in sustainable food growing practices in it’s ethics to care for people and care for the environment.