Milestone – 30,000 Plants!
Bruce French – Officer of the Order of Australia
I have always said (jokingly) that when I get to 30,000 edible plant species I will retire. That number is what the most reliable sources such as FAO have said occur around the world. The current number in our Food Plants International database is 30,582 so I should have retired a few weeks ago.
I continue to be fascinated by the rich diversity of edible plants adapted to every location in the world that are being ignored. Instead our ‘western’ focus still remains on how to try to squeeze increased yields out of the unsustainably narrow varieties of a few species that specialists have focused on in recent years.
As an aside, the form of malnutrition called obesity is now becoming a global crisis. A narrow diet can never meet our body’s nutritional requirements. Most of the top international reports are saying that this approach is no longer viable and for the good of the planet and as the only hope for feeding our world, we need to re-think our approach to agriculture.
Increasingly, I find that some of the most useful articles and books that I read, have been produced by people who have lived and worked in the majority world at some stage in their career. In my recent lecture to Davis Campus of the University of California I suggested that in proportion to their population, the USA should get a mention in the world news once every 3 weeks. It is very hard to see ourselves in perspective and harder still to be prepared to re-think long held views and approaches.
I am impressed by the quality and caliber of those committed to finding solutions for feeding our ever-increasing world population in an ecologically sound way. Then global climate change and the global energy crisis will simply pass into history as minor distractions as all people around the world can learn to eat well.
Editor’s Note: The Food Plant Solutions team congratulates Bruce on his incredible achievement – over 30,000 edible plants in the Food Plants International database. It’s an honour to work with Bruce.