Friday, September 4, 2015

Wild Edibles

In nature there are about 7000 plants which are edible to human beings. The native tribes knew most of the edible wild plants in their locality and had a knowledge of using these plants. The advent of industrial agriculture with emphasis on hybrid crops focused on  breeding commercially important crops. About 15 crops are bred through different modern breeding techniques which fulfills about 70% of the global calorie requirement. This has resulted in mass monocultures, soil degradation, environmental pollution and systematically uprooted the traditional knowledge systems of communities in food and nutrition. 

Wild edibles are available year around which grow voluntarily and do not require any resources to cultivate and manage them. Unfortunately we have branded such wonderful edibles as weeds. Every attempt is made to destroy these edible plants by using toxic chemicals. If we can be respectful to these plants and use them, humanity will benefit from a lot. It will reduce the pressure on land to cultivate crops and reverse the degradation that is happening today. Wild edibles are rich in nutrients and has medicinal properties. 

Recently I had an opportunity to share my views on wild edibles in a radio show organized by KRUU FM's Great Taste. It was fascinating to cook lamb-squatters (Chenopodium album) a very common weed plant which is invasive in nature. Lamb squatters are rich in nutrients which can be cooked in a variety of ways.