Monday, October 7, 2013

The Star : Declining dietary diversity

Monday 7 October, 2013


Scan the supermarket isles and consumers appear to be faced with endless choice.

Now, take another look.  How much of this is really just different versions of the same plant ?  Pasta, bread, crackers, flour, cereals, cakes, noodles, couscous and beer, for example, are all the products of wheat.  For much of the world, dietary diversity in an illusion.  Most of our arable land is coming to be dominated by an increasingly narrow range of crops.

Maize, wheat and rice are the superstars of agriculture.   Together, they account for 60% of the world’s calorie intake.

But there was a time, within the last 10,000 years, when man made use of 30,000 plant, 7,000 of which were crops.

Cast the net a bit wider, and today it’s still only 120 species of plants that supply 90% of our diet – down from the 7,000 above.

The Crops For The Future Research Centre aims to investigate and, where appropriate, elevate the status of a variety of underutilized fruits and vegetables in our diet.   Some examples follows :


Fruits
> Asam gelugur ( Garcinia atroviridis )
> Belimbing buluh ( Averrhoa bilimbi )
> Cerapu ( Garcinia parainiana )
> Ceri Terengganu ( Lepisanthes fruticosa )
> Kedondong ( Spondias cytherea )
> Kemunting ( Rhodomyrtus tomentosa )
> Kundang ( Couea macrophylla )
> Salak ( Salacca zalacca )
> Sentul ( Sandoricum macropodum )
> Sukun ( Artocarpus altilis )
> Rambai ( Baccaurea matleyana )


Vegetables
> Beluntas ( Pluchea indica )
> Beremi laut ( Portulaca spp. )
> Gandarusa ( Justicia gendarussa )
> Gajus merah ( Anarcardium accidentale )
> Kemoyang ( Homalomena sagittifolia )
> Mengkudu ( Morinda citrifolia )
> Mata itik ( Ardisia crenata )
> Peria pantai ( Colubrina asiatica )
> Tenggek burung ( Euodia ridleyi )
> Sabung nyawa ( Gynura procumbens )
> Salam ( Eugenia polyantha )




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