Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Wild edible plants and local diets

Marrakech, Morocco

Spring comes early to Marrakech, at least in comparison to my home state of Michigan. With my son Edward, I was out harvesting wild asparagus in my garden this morning. The tender sprouts grow up through the spiny stems of the previous year, giving them good protection from grazing animals. My hands were poked and scraped as I cut away the old growth to harvest the wild vegetable for lunch. This ‘hidden harvest’ brings to mind the many species of wild edible plants that were an important part of local diets throughout the world until people transitioned to eating processed foods. Later in the day, I read that Harriet Kuhnlein, a colleague from McGill University, has put together IndigenousNutrition.org, an impressive website dedicated to promoting local foodways. It features a series of videos that portray indigenous peoples' culinary traditions and describes how they could contribute to better diets for millions of people who are malnourished or are suffering from lifestyle diseases such as cancer, diabetes and heart conditions.

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