Newsletters 2013

Each month we will publish a newsletter explaining our beliefs and highlighting some plants.
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The Biblical call to “Turn swords into ploughshares and spears into pruning hooks” is long overdue for its implementation.  The future of the planet depends on it.  A high tech solution is inevitably costly and immediately moves affordable food beyond the reach of the 1.2 billion living on less than $1.25 per day. The aim of Food Plants International remains to collate information on edible plants of the world and get the information back to those who need it most.

Food plants mentioned in this newsletter: cabbage, lettuce

Keywords: creation care, God, obesity, world population, hungry, poverty, sustainable food production

Yams are the staple food for millions of people in the tropical world.  Papua New Guinea has the widest and best range of cultivars of Dioscorea esculenta in the world.  Tubers can weigh several kilos and store well for three months.  The West African yam (Dioscorea cayenensis) is a productive plant with good taste and convenient tuber shape.  Apart from being productive and attractive food plants maintained in their hundreds of varieties, yams often suit seasonally wet and dry areas because they store well during the dry season.

Food plants mentioned in this article: yams, Dioscorea alata, Dioscorea batatas, Dioscorea bulbifera, Dioscorea cayenensis, Dioscorea elephantipes, Dioscorea esculenta, Dioscorea nummularia, Dioscorea pentaphylla, Dioscorea trifida, Dioscorea villosa

Places mentioned in this article: Sepik (PNG), Papua New Guinea, West Africa, Ghana, New Zealand, USA, Andes, Kew Gardens, Vanuatu, Vudal (PNG)

Increasingly people have been narrowing the range of food plant species they grow, and land pressure due to increased population is putting more stress on the agricultural system.
My real passion is related to production systems and the best way to enable a family to produce nutritious food to feed their families in a sustainable way.  Diversity is the answer to good nutrition and stable production.

Food plants mentioned in this newsletter: European potatoes, Colocasia taro, maize/corn
Countries/Continents: Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Africa

From this issue: The knowledge of insects is often very specific and functional.

If they already had a name for the insect, then it wasn’t new, so now I wanted to know what they had changed in their farming system that an old and familiar insect had now become a problem.
Many insects are edible.They can also be put to work!
I highlight the obvious truth that it is introduced food plants that are often more damaged by insects.  They have been selected for a different region.

Food plants mentioned in this issue: taro, bananas, sago palm, bamboo

Country: Papua New Guinea, PNG

From this issue: For the first time in my life I was in the right space, not having to justify having an interest in less well known food plants or their relevance for sustainable food production to meet malnutrition in the tropical world.

Rather than re-invent the wheel by simply focussing on edible species in one location or region, there is significant benefit in looking at what is known about or being studied with similar species in other regions. The Food Plants International database and collation is the only known global system to document these species.

The need for long term planning was highlighted for me many years ago when I studied sago as a starchy staple in the Kutubu region in Papua New Guinea. Young people would get married then suddenly become aware that they needed sago palms to harvest to feed themselves and their emerging family.

Food plants mentioned in this issue: legumes, algae, sea vegetables, mushrooms, Terminalia species, Canariums, Parinaris, Syzygiums, Sterculias, Strychnos, sago palms

Locations mentioned in this issue: Malaysia, Ghana, Africa, Asia, Pacific Mesa-Americas, Papua New Guinea, Zimbabwe

Keywords: food plants, neglected, underutilised, species, sustainable food production, malnutrition, tropical world, edible species, Food Plants International database, hungry people, starchy staple

Bruce French writes: I wish I would simply pop up to the nearest Chinese, Vietnamese or Indian fresh food market and buy and try and photograph many of the plants that I am documenting.  Australia is the second largest tropical country in the world.  There is probably no other nation that has the potential to grow almost every edible plant in the world….Our diet is Australia is 72% wheat and about 12 % sugar.  For an intelligent country this is not a very intelligent diet.

Food plants mentioned in this newsletter: Pea aubergines, Pandan leaves, Moringa pods and leaves; tiger lilies, hawthorn berries, bracken fern; Rungia klossii; grapes, olives, lingonberries; durian, jackfruit, wheat, sugar

Keywords: nutrition, nutritionism, balanced diet, obese, malnourishment, locovores, tropical fruit.

From this issue: Just like about everything else in life, there are fads and fashions with plants. If you look over a plant nursery catalogue, you can see at a glance what is currently in favour and what has dropped out of vogue…
The answer is not to try to stop hungry people eating them, but to encourage them to re-plant and increase the populations.
In the very high altitudes in Papua New Guinea, some of the pandanus nut species make a major contribution to the diet. Others in lower altitude regions are used to make an attractive sauce.
I am aware that some countries get less attention than others. Laos was one of those countries.

Food plants mentioned in this issue: orchid, cycad, zamia, pandanus. Plant types: tree, shrub, herb, mushroom, palm, seaweed, vine, cacti, fern, bamboo. Edible plant part: fruit, leaves, seeds, root, flowers, tea, nuts, spice, stem, flavouring, children’s snacks, oil producing, bark, gum, sap, coffee, manna. Country: Laos.

From this issue: Our aim is to provide easy to understand and well-illustrated information on suitable edible plants so that the rural poor in the 81 poorest countries (based on the number of children who do not survive childhood) can feed themselves well…
We need to rediscover some of the amazingly nutritious and highly adapted food plants that are potentially available…
Most people in the world don’t want a “world” database. Most people are simply interested in their own local patch. But there are so many locations that have different plants that the only way to cover them all is to go global…
Foodplants mentioned in this issue: Macadamia nuts, Finschia nuts, Gnetum gnemon, “Melimjo” nuts, Gnetum africanum, Gnetum montanum, Gnetum parvifolium, Amaranths,  Amaranthaceae.