14 votes

The forgotten crops that could feed the planet.

6 comments

  1. Leon Link
    In the Malaysian countryside, inside three giant, sleek and silver domes, scientists are trying to change the future of food. They’re pushing the boundaries of what humans eat by growing and...

    In the Malaysian countryside, inside three giant, sleek and silver domes, scientists are trying to change the future of food. They’re pushing the boundaries of what humans eat by growing and processing so-called ‘alternative’ crops – such as kedondong, a crunchy, tart berry that Malaysians mostly use in pickles and salads.

    7 votes
  2. [5]
    nacho Link
    Like with quinoa, there need to be special reasons for people adapting to new foods. With quinoa, having NASA say in the early 1990s that it's basically a superfood yeah. But if you don't have...

    "Climate change is going to mean almost certainly tastes are going to be forced to change,” says Tim Lang, professor of food policy at City, University of London. We “have to get used to eating other crops” as yields of staple crops fall, he says.

    Like with quinoa, there need to be special reasons for people adapting to new foods. With quinoa, having NASA say in the early 1990s that it's basically a superfood yeah.

    But if you don't have some magic berry or whatever on your hands, food needs to taste good. That's what drives the global food economy: taste and status. If meat didn't taste good or wasn't a status-food in a lot of communities, we'd all be eating more healthily.

    I think the researchers miss the point entirely when the only time in the article they mention taste, is that we have to change our tastes, not because we would want to.

    That's sure to be a bitter pill,, and so it won't be easily swallowed.

    6 votes
    1. [4]
      Leon Link Parent
      I wonder if most popular ubiquitous modern food is so due to it's superior flavour, or more because of its low cost, high profit margin and pervasive advertisement. After living in both Nepal and...

      I wonder if most popular ubiquitous modern food is so due to it's superior flavour, or more because of its low cost, high profit margin and pervasive advertisement. After living in both Nepal and India, which have quite a different attitude to food, I'd lean towards the latter.

      6 votes
      1. [3]
        nacho Link Parent
        I'm lucky enough to live in amazing mushroom country, to give one example. I can just walk outside and pick at least 20 different species of great food mushrooms at will. In my local stores and...

        I'm lucky enough to live in amazing mushroom country, to give one example.

        I can just walk outside and pick at least 20 different species of great food mushrooms at will.

        In my local stores and stands, I can find about 5 species of mushroom. Farm-grown shiitake, portobello and Agaricus (you know, that regular white button mushroom). And wild picked chantarelles.

        Why is it that only one species of wild mushrooms is being commercially picked although there's at least another 15 species? It's certainly not because there's more of it (to the contrary). For example, I found a single locality of Forest lamb mushrooms 10 meters from a common hiking trail. I stopped picking after I'd got around 20 kilos and ran out of space, and I hadn't made a dent in the field.

        It's simply because of the taste.

        When going on guided nature walks in remote, wilderness-like parts of Hawaii, why is it that when you try all the wild fruits and berries, the by far best tasting species are things like pomegranates that aren't native, but international worldwide species?

        Is it coincidence that things like mangoes go worldwide, while carambolas do not, or is it simply that they simply taste too sour/bitter to work out?


        I think they layer you're getting at, of refined beet sugar, high fructose corn syrup or marketed "superfood" like chia seeds or wheatgrass, definitely has merit.

        But that's way down the line. When people shop, they buy things overwhelmingly for taste (or tradition) not advertising.

        3 votes
        1. [2]
          Leon Link Parent
          That's really interesting. Where I live (UK) there is quite a large subsection of people who don't really "cook" at all, everything is some sort of frozen pre-packaged ready meal. For this type of...

          That's really interesting. Where I live (UK) there is quite a large subsection of people who don't really "cook" at all, everything is some sort of frozen pre-packaged ready meal. For this type of food advertising is key, though as you indicate, I've never seen advert for spring greens.

          1 vote
          1. nacho Link Parent
            I mean, even in that context, why chiken tikka masala over beef tikka masala? Why green curry or yellow curry? When I'm standing there in the shop, I can clearly see that there's twice as much...

            I mean, even in that context, why chiken tikka masala over beef tikka masala? Why green curry or yellow curry?

            When I'm standing there in the shop, I can clearly see that there's twice as much green curry in stock even though they cost the same as the yellow curry right next to it. I guess I just live in an area that likes the taste of green curry.

            1 vote