Underexploited Food Sources

The diversity, and hence resilience, of the world’s food supply has been diminishing steadily over the past century.  This has been in part fueled by the steady expansion of the world’s premier grain crops (wheat, originally from the Middle East; maize or corn, originally from Central America; and rice, originally from Asia). This expansion has invaded geographies which better-adapted and more serviceable (e.g. nutritious) native grains were adapted to, and which supported local food-plant populations since the emergence of anatomically modern humans. The inexorable expansion of the world’s premier crops has fostered increasing monoculture of both inedible fiber sources and edible crops, especially the cereals or grains.  This expansion, part of the much-vaunted Green Revolution, has been blamed for the destruction of traditional local knowledge, techniques and habits, and for disrupting the biological matrix between the natural environment and those traditional agricultural techniques (in other words, sustainability has gone out the window). There was an incredible abundance of locally adapted edible and nutritious plants all over the globe, but in many regions these plants, and the culture associated with their use (for both food and medicine) is being lost rapidly and cannot be re-created. Re-discovering, rescuing, cultivating, nourishing, and cherishing the genetic goldmine that has also been called “Lost Crops” should be a much higher priority for the nations of the world than it now is. Throughout my career, and when time and funding has allowed me to do so, I have attempted to be part of that reclamation effort.

Related Publications

Fahey JW.  (2017)  Moringa oleifera: A review of the medical potential.  Acta Horticulturae ISHS 1158: 209-224. DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.2017.1158.25. [Abstract]
Olson ME, RP Sankaran, JW Fahey, MA Grusak, D Odee, W Nouman.  (2016)  Leaf protein and mineral concentrations across the “miracle tree” genus Moringa. PLOS One. http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0159782#sec018. [Article]
Johnson TL, AT Dinkova-Kostova, and JW Fahey.  (2016)  Glucosinolates from the Brassica Vegetables and their Health Effects. In Caballero B, Finglas P, and Toldrá F (eds) The Encyclopedia of Food and Health vol. 3, pp. 248-255. Oxford: Academic Press. [Link]
Fahey JW.  (2016)  Brassica: Characteristics and Properties. In Caballero B, Finglas P, and Toldrá F (eds) The Encyclopedia of Food and Health vol. 1, pp. 469-477. Oxford: Academic Press. [Link]
Fahey, JW. (2003) “Brassicas” in Encyclopedia of Food Sciences and Nutrition, Eds. B. Caballero, L.C. Trugo & P.M. Finglas, Academic Press, London. pp. 606-613.
Fahey, JW and KK Stephenson. (2002) Pinostrobin from Honey and Thai Ginger (Boesenbergia pandurata): A Potent Flavonoid Inducer of Mammalian Phase 2 Chemoprotective and Antioxidant Enzymes. J. Agric. Food Chem. 50: 7422-7476. [Abstract]
Fahey, JW. (1999) Future Super Foods? The Johns Hopkins Health Insider 2(1):1,4.
Fahey, JW. (1998) Underexploited African grain crops: A nutritional resource. Nutrition Reviews 56(9):282-285. [Abstract]