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Nature Knows Best: Practicing Agrobiodiversity For More Plant Varieties Which Restores The Ecosytem

Modern Agriculture has done us no favors, with it's unnatural methods of Farming.
And bombardment of Chemicals - from NPK Fertilisers to Weedicides and Pesticides, which only become necessary when the Laws of Nature have been violated. Modern Agriculture works against Nature instead of with it. Big Monocrops are bad for the Soil and disruptive to our Ecosystem. believe it or not

This is not Old School Methods which rely on Crop Rotation, preserving Goodness in the Soil by planting different Crops alternately that complement each-other; allowing Crops to be plowed into the Soil after harvest, which
Enriches the Soil with Vital Nutrients instead of stripping it of it's own Nutrition.

(much more variety) growing than we have available today. the absence of them has really restricted our food choices and also affected the Ecosystem.

Excerpts from 50 Foods For Healthier People And A Healthier Planet

Globally we rely on a small range of foods. This negatively impacts our health and the health of the planet. Seventy-five percent of the global food supply comes from only 12 plant and five animal species. Just three (rice, maize, wheat) make up nearly 60 percent of calories from plants in the entire human diet.

This excludes many valuable sources of nutrition. While people may be getting sufficient calories, these narrow diets don’t provide enough vitamins and minerals. Dietary monotony is linked to a decline in the diversity of plants and animals used in and around agriculture (agrobiodiversity), threatening the resilience of our food system and limiting the breadth of food we can eat. Since 1900, a staggering 75 percent of the genetic plant diversity in agriculture has been lost. In most Asian countries, the number of rice types grown has decreased rapidly from thousands to a dozen.
In Thailand, for example, the 16,000 varieties once cultivated have dropped to just 37 varieties3. In the past century, the United States has lost 80 percent of its cabbage, pea and tomato varieties. This dependence on a limited pool of crop species leaves harvests vulnerable to pests, diseases and the impact of climate change.

Farming a narrow range of crops using intensive methods can have serious repercussions on our fragile natural ecosystems. Monoculture farming, which is the repeated harvesting of a single crop, and over-reliance on animal-based foods are threatening food security. Monoculture farming can deplete nutrients and leave soil vulnerable to the build-up of pests and pathogens. This requires applications of fertilisers and pesticides that can, if used inappropriately, damage wildlife and leach into water systems. Many types of birds, animals and wild plants cannot thrive in biologically degraded landscapes.

Khorasan Wheat
Triticum Turanicum

Khorasan wheat is grown in 40 countries around the world and is known for its ability to tolerate different climates without the use of artificial pesticides or fertilisers. Sometimes referred to by a trademarked name of KAMUT®, the amber-coloured kernels of this Ancient Wheat are twice the size of regular wheat and, when cooked, they have a richer, creamier and nuttier taste. Khorasan wheat is high in Fibre, a good source of the minerals Magnesium and Selenium, and contains Antioxidants. It is nutritious and can be used in similar ways to other forms of wheat. Khorasan wheat is available in many forms, including as a wholegrain, couscous and flour. The kernels are great in stews, soups, pilafs and salads.

Triticum Spelta

An ancient form of wheat, Spelt is a hybrid of Emmer wheat and goat grass. Due to its high carbohydrate content, the Romans called it the ‘marching grain’. It has a thick outer husk that helps to protect it from disease and pests, making it easier for farmers to grow without the need for fertilisers or pesticides. Compared to similar types of wheat, it contains more fibre, as well as higher concentrations of minerals, including Magnesium, Iron and Zinc.

Spelt is often one of the components of farro, which is a mix of various types of wheat and is becoming more popular in some parts of Europe and North America. Whole or pearled, spelt should be boiled until tender. The mellow, nutty flavour makes it popular to use in place of rice in pilaf, risotto and side dishes. In Germany and Austria, using Spelt flour to make breads and cakes is common and often preferred over other types of wheat.

Chenopodium Quinoa

Quinoa has long been a staple food in South America but has been gaining popularity in Europe and the US since the early 2000s, marketed as a healthier, tastier replacement for rice. The sudden surge in demand for one type of quinoa forced farmers to take measures to rapidly increase yield, to the detriment of land, trees, soil and water use. Quinoa, like any food, can and should be grown following sustainable practices and, compared with similar crops, doesn’t require any more resources.

There are over 3,000 varieties of quinoa. However, the demand to date has been for only a few types, which has caused the farmers to stop growing many others. This has resulted in environmental degradation and damaged soil, because the land was not left to fallow (rest between harvests).

There are now incentives in place for farmers to grow less common types of quinoa and programmes to encourage their consumption in schools and restaurants. This popularity has opened global trade opportunities for farmers and benefitted local economies enormously. The quinoa case stresses the importance of growing and eating a wide variety of grains and cereals to help decrease the reliance on any one specific type.

Botanically, quinoa is not a cereal but is a relative of spinach, beets and chard. It is a hardy plant that can tolerate frosts, droughts and high winds, and requires little fertilisation. This means it can grow in diverse climates and terrains, including areas with minimal irrigation or as little as three to four inches of annual rainfall. The most commonly cultivated and exported types of quinoa are white, red and black. The texture varies between them, but the flavour and uses remain largely the same.

Quinoa is a complete protein as it contains all nine of the essential amino acids. It is gluten-free and contains an exceptional balance of protein, fat, minerals and vitamins.

In Bolivia and Peru, quinoa is mainly eaten in stews and soups. It is easy to prepare as a rice substitute by
bringing it to the boil in stock or water, then reducing to a simmer until the liquid is absorbed. It can replace
rice in many dishes, such as pilafs, stuffings, salads and even veggie burgers, giving a nutty flavor and
enhancing texture. It can also be ground and used in breads and even pastas.

Eragrostis Tef

Known as ‘the next super grain’ the popularity of teff as a preferred grain has grown over the past few years. This has led many farmers in Europe and North America to begin growing teff to boost supply.

This tiny grass seed is a long-standing staple in Ethiopia thanks to its nutritional value, as teff is a good source of iron, calcium, magnesium, manganese and phosphorous. It is well suited to challenging climates, can cope with both drought and waterlogged soil, is easy to store and is pest-resistant.

This hardy little grain is being championed by the Ethiopian government, which is working to introduce new varieties and improve production methods. In Ethiopia, teff is ground into flour and baked into the sourdough flatbread called injera. It can be used in ‘paap’ (South African porridge) instead of cornmeal as it offers a more enticing texture and has greater nutritional value. The mild flavour means teff flour lends itself to any number of sweet and savoury dishes. The
seeds can be steamed or boiled in stock or water to be served as a side dish or to bulk up dishes.

Lens culinaris

Originally from North Africa and Asia, this cousin of the pea was one of the world’s first cultivated crops. Requiring little water to grow, lentils have a carbon footprint 43 times lower than that of beef.

There are dozens of varieties, all with slightly different earthy, peppery or sweet flavours. Lentils are packed with protein, fibre and carbohydrates. Puy lentils keep their shape and texture after cooking and are often served
with fish or roasted vegetables. Red and yellow lentils dissolve into a rich purée and are delicious mixed into stews, curries and soups.

They are also used to make veggie burgers. All lentils are simple to cook; pre-soak if necessary, then boil in water or stock/broth (three to one ratio of water to lentils) for 15 to 20 minutes for whole lentils and five to seven minutes for
split lentils.

Mung Beans
Vigna Radiata

Originally from Southeast Asia, mung beans were first grown in the US in the 19th century as livestock feed. Today, these tiny, tender beans are prized by people in Asia and beyond for their crisp, clean taste and ability to absorb
flavours. They also contain protein, B vitamins and various minerals. Natural nitrogen-fixers, the plants thrive in
sunny conditions and are considered heat and drought-tolerant.

Mung beans are great with noodles, rice dishes, curries and stir-fries. They can even be scrambled like eggs or puréed to resemble icecream. Their sprouts are nutritious too, adding crunch to salads and sandwiches with their sweet but earthy flavour.

Fagopyrum Esculentum

Buckwheat is one of the healthiest, nuttiest and most versatile grains. It is a short season crop, maturing in just eight to twelve weeks, and grows well in both acidic and underfertilised soils. It can also be used as a ‘cover crop’ or ‘smother crop’ to help keep weeds down and reduce soil erosion while fields rest during crop rotation.

Contrary to its name, buckwheat is not related to wheat and is gluten-free. It is an ideal higher protein swap for flour in pastas and breads. It can also be a great alternative to rice, is ideal cooked in a broth or stock, and can be used in salads or stuffing. It is popular in Russia and Eastern European countries and is commonly eaten in stews, such as ‘goulash’, with potatoes, vegetables and meat.

Sprouted chickpeas
Cicer Arietinum

Chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, are small, yellowish round beans orginally popular in Middle Eastern dishes. They have recently gained popularity in Western countries, being added to salads and made into spreads, mainly hummus. They have a rich, creamy and nutty flavour. With one cup of chickpeas providing approximately ten grams of protein and a somewhat meaty texture, they are a viable substitute for meat in many dishes. Chickpeas are good for you and sprouted chickpeas are even better. They’re also crunchier and have more flavour.

Chickpeas are one of the easiest beans to sprout. Doing so neutralises the phytic acid and allows the body to better absorb the nutrients, such as calcium, magnesium and zinc. To sprout chickpeas, soak for eight hours, drain and rinse. Transfer to a glass jar or bowl and cover with a cheesecloth. Repeat the rinse and drain steps a few times until the sprouts are to the desired length. This usually takes three to four days. Like all sprouts, sprouted chickpeas are
prone to bacterial growth, so it’s important to follow good safety principles.

Add them to stews, soups, stir-fries, or simply enjoy as a side dish. Hummus made from sprouted chickpeas has more
crunch and a nuttier flavour than unsprouted chickpeas.

Sprouted Kidney Beans
Phaseolus Vulgaris

Believed to have originated in Iran, alfalfa has been cultivated for thousands of years. Its long growing season, adaptability and ability to enrich soil makes it a farmer’s delight. Gaining recent attention from health food enthusiasts,
the immature and nutrient-dense alfalfa sprouts are used as an ingredient in a wide variety of dishes, ranging from raw salads to cooked stir-fries and pad thai.

Alfalfa sprouts can be grown industrially or at home in warm, moist conditions. Within one to two days of watering, the little brown seeds germinate, producing white shoots with pale green leaves that are ready to be eaten. Their
crunch and mild flavour make them a great addition to sandwiches and soups. They can also be eaten on their own, topped with a light dressing.

All sprouts grow in similar conditions to bacteria (warm and moist) making them prone to contamination, so food safety practices need to be followed closely. Kidney beans are a popular and versatile source of protein. They make a great substitute for ground meat because of their texture and protein content. The mild flavour makes them the perfect carrier of seasonings and diverse flavours.

It’s when sprouted, however, that their nutritional value skyrockets to three times that of unsprouted kidney beans.
Kidney beans are high in lectins, which are complex compounds that are difficult to digest. Therefore, as with all dried beans, especially the larger varieties, it is essential to thoroughly cook kidney bean sprouts by boiling in water or stock for 10 minutes. This will make them taste better and decrease the impact on the digestive system. The slight bitterness pairs well with sweetened sauces or dressings, and they are often used as toppings for soups and salads.

Beet Greens
Beta Vulgaris

Beets have grown in popularity in recent years and are associated with a variety of health benefits. However, the leafy green part of the beetroot is the most nutritious part of the plant and is often overlooked and left unused.
With a flavour and nutrition profile similar to that of Swiss chard, beet greens are rich in vitamins K and A37. Compared to greens such as turnip and mustard greens, beet greens contain higher levels of magnesium and potassium. Per serving, beet greens provide up to 25 percent of the recommended daily allowance of magnesium, which helps
regulate a variety of biochemical reactions in the body, including muscle and nerve function, blood pressure and blood glucose control. Studies in the US and Europe report that around 50 percent of people get less than the recommended levels of magnesium.

Beet greens also contain as much iron as spinach, plus the plant pigment lutein, which is associated with good eye health. Beet plants thrive in cooler temperatures, are tolerant of frost and grown at a rapid pace.

They are a nutrition-packed addition to stews, soups and salads. With a subtle taste that is similar to kale, beet greens are delicious sautéed in olive oil or balsamic vinegar for a tasty side dish. Developing a soft and sweet taste when cooked, they can even be baked to make crisps.

Red Indonesian Sweet Potatoes
(Cilembu) Ipomoea Batatas

Amongst the vast range of sweet potatoes in the world, one of the most sought after is the Cilembu sweet potato, a variety native to Indonesia. Although the Cilembu sweet potato has been documented since 1914, its unique qualities have only been widely understood since the early 2000s54. Sweet potatoes are commonly consumed in a variety of countries, but this type is highly sought after for its flavour and nutritional value.

It is an important commodity in Cilembu and the surrounding villages of Western Java. It is exported to Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Thailand and Malaysia. When baked, Cilembu sweet potatoes have a very distinctive aroma and sweet taste with a sugary, honey-like glaze. Not just a culinary delicacy, the Cilembu is also a valuable source of several essential nutrients, including vitamins A, C, E and manganese.

Indonesia has struggled to find enough suitable land to grow the highly coveted Cilembu. As a result, the market has been flooded with similar looking sweet potatoes that are sold intentionally mislabelled under the name Cilembu.

These potatoes do not have the honey-sweet flavour of the original, which poses a threat to the Cilembu’s ability to stay in circulation. This is why it is currently listed on Slow Food’s Ark of Taste 55. To support its future, specific criteria have been developed to find suitable land to grow this crop to meet consumer demand.

The Future 50 Foods have the power to increase the nutritional value and decrease the environmental impact of everyday meals. We all need to be a part of shifting the food system by using our purchasing power to increase the demand for and supply of foods that are better for people and the planet. Start by choosing to eat a wider range of foods, including the Future 50 Foods. Large-scale change begins with small actions. To find out more, search Future 50 Foods.

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To Be Continued!

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