NORMAN MILLER: The forgotten foods that could excite our tastebuds
Just 12 plant species and five types of animal make up 75% of the world's food. At least 30,000 of the 350,000 known plant species on our planet are edible, according to the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization. It is a woefully limited diet in the midst of such variety. Only 170 species of plant are cultivated for food on any significant scale. And around 60% of all the calories and proteins we obtain from plants come from just three grass crops – rice, maize and wheat.
There are huge risks in relying on so few plant species to feed the world. When a disease starts spreading in a particular crop variety, for example, it can surge worldwide. Often there is little genetic diversity within major crop species, leaving them even more vulnerable to disease. Climate change is also threatening our ability to grow these staple crops in many locations as they are not well suited to grow in the challenging conditions brought by greater droughts, flooding and rising temperatures…
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