Friday, 27 September 2013

Re-Wild Your Plate!

An edible gardening project is looking to ancestral plants of modern vegetables for qualities of disease resistance, yield and flavour:
  • By domesticating wild plants to create our familiar crops we have selected desirable traits like disease resistance, yield and flavour. The Really Wild Veg project has been examining how significant these changes have been by growing trial plots of three familiar crop plants alongside their wild relatives. The project has focussed on three crop species – cabbage, beet and radish – as all three are native Scottish coastal plants. For more information about the species and varieties grown in the trial and the participating community gardens see the 11th June blog update.

    The Crop Wild Relatives are important because they hold genes that may be valuable in breeding new improved varieties. One area where the wild plants may show particular promise is in their nutritional qualities. A varied group of chemicals found in plants that are particularly important for human health are called bioactive phytochemicals. This group includes antioxidants and anthocyanins among many others and can help prevent cancer, heart disease and diabetes. In order to investigate this interesting area further the Really Wild Veg project has teamed up with the Rowett Institute of Nutrition and Health. The Rowett’s lab in Aberdeen will analyse the samples supplied from across all five gardens that have participated in the trials. This will provide a picture of how the phytochemicals have changed their makeup and concentration as a result of domestication.
 It nice to see the middle-ground between commerical veg-growing and foraging being explored.

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