You’ll Be Consuming Artificial Bananas And Finger Millets By 2050
In a country that is frequently referred to as the breadbasket of Europe, the war in Ukraine has affected farming and food supply. But the battle has also brought attention to the need to develop substitutes for internationally traded foods, which were already in danger due to climate change and growing populations.
Is it time to reconsider what we eat given that only 15 crops account for 90% of all the calories consumed by humans worldwide? For more than four billion people, rice, maize, and wheat—the only three grains that make up two-thirds of calories are staple foods.
Therefore, researchers at the UK’s Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, have developed some more radical options that could aid in feeding the world during difficult times. Here are 7 foods that we may all be eating by 2050.
1. Morama beans
On the confirmed global checklist of legumes maintained by Kew, there are around 23,000 species of beans recorded. The list includes less well-known plants like morama, which is capable of surviving droughts, as well as chickpeas, lentils, soy beans, and peanuts.
2. False bananas
According to Kew, the enset, also known as the “false banana,” is related to the banana, the “tree against famine” that feeds 20 million Ethiopians, or more than a sixth of the country’s population. It could feed 100 million people in Africa if it were planted more widely.
The enset, which resembles a tree but is actually a huge herb. It serves as a source of textile material as well as food. Scientists estimate that 60 enset plants could sustain a family of five for an entire year. The enset is also very hardy, tolerating droughts better than many other staples.
3. Finger millet
Finger millet, so named because of the shape of its seed heads, is one of 29 wild relatives of established grain crops being investigated by the researchers at Kew to determine their potential to feed the world. It is already a staple crop in India.
According to scientists, it is abundant in calcium and dietary fibre and prevents diabetes. The grain, known as Ragi in India, is said to have originated in Africa and moved to Asia during the Paleolithic era. Similar to other millets, it thrives in semi-arid and tropical climates and is pest-resistant.
According to the US Department of Agriculture, about 9,000 species of grass have been identified, but only 35 have been domesticated for use as cereals worldwide. Fonio is one of the first cereals to have been domesticated, according to some estimates.
In cooler regions, lablab, also known as the hyacinth bean, is grown as an aesthetic plant, but it is also produced for food in Africa and India, where it has been farmed since at least 2,500 BC. Its leaves are a good source of iron and protein, and also used to feed animals.
Beans can be used to produce tofu and provide almost 25% protein. As temperatures rise, plant researchers at Kew suggest that lablab might be grown more extensively over the globe, and they are working to create a commercial crop version.
6. Oca and mashua
Potatoes are today consumed in at least 161 nations worldwide, despite the fact that the Incas in Peru first grew them as early as 8,000 BC. The Kew team is hopeful about two tubers, mashua and oca, when it comes to finding sustainable substitutes.
Both plants come from the Andes, just like the potato, but unlike the potato, they are not susceptible to blight, which may destroy entire crops. While mashua has a peppery flavour, oca has a solid texture and a citrus flavour.
The pandanus tree, which is found near the Pacific Ocean, produces fruit and leaves that are already utilised by cooks in Southeast Asia, just like many of the dishes on this list. Both sweet and savoury cuisines use its leaves, while the fruit, which resembles a pineapple, can be eaten raw or cooked.
There are plenty more species that may help feed the world as climate change and political unrest make our current staples harder to find. The experts at Kew have more than 7,000 edible plants in their database. While all seven of these plants could be foods of the future, there are plenty more species that may help feed the world.