In a world in which 1.02 billion people have poor nutrition, the authors of this article are studying the value of wild plants and wild animals as food. They were the sole source of food for hunter-gatherers in Paleolithic times up to about 10,000 years ago. They continue to be important for many agricultural communities around the world. Ninety to one hundred wild species continue to be used in studies of 22 countries of Asia and Africa. Many countries use 300-800 species per country, such as in India, Ethiopia and Kenya.
Many wild foods are being actively managed by foragers and cultivators. The stereotype has been that hunter-gatherers are nomadic and that cultivators are sedentary, staying in a single location. These stereotypes are not real and were probably not real for everyone in the past. The Hohokam native Americans of the U.S. southwest were hunter-gathers, but were expert canal irrigators of crops as well. People who would be seen as hunter-gathers also sow wild seeds, irrigate grasses, burn to improve plant growth, cull game and fish, replant roots, and remove only part of bee honeycombs so the bee colony will survive.
The idea of “wild” is not entirely true for most ecosystems since there are few places where man has not made changes such as with fire to clear areas and planting to increase production. Wild animals are brought together for breeding and are often fed to increase populations.
There are forested islands in the Amazon that are the result of human activity. In other parts of the Amazon there are increased populations of timber trees, fruit trees and medicinal trees as a result of people planting the seeds at the time they are cutting timber. In Kenya, the sites of former corrals contain large circles of acacia trees which grow as the result of seeds passing through animals that have been kept in the corrals. The results are large circular areas of densely planted acacia trees. Farmers commonly transplant wild species into their farms, including wild fruit trees and edible herbs. Wild species are often protected from urbanization by being planted in home gardens.
Availability of the sources of wild food are declining as the result of expanding agriculture and development. Wild foods are not added to lists of the value of natural resources for countries.
CONCLUSION: Wild plants and animals are an important part of the “world’s food basket”. The importance of these foods may expand as it becomes more difficult for agriculture to feed a hungry and growing world.
To read the author’s abstract of the article, click on the author’s title of the article. Then, to read the full article, click on the full text icon.
Rainbow Grocery sells the following product: Mushrooms and wild rice.
Summary #971. nutrientmedicine