Prince Charles says that finding crops that would grow in extreme temperatures is ‘crucial’
He would also like Bambara groundnuts to become an everyday food stuff, as well as winged beans.
While these ingredients may sound like inventions from the imagination of JK Rowling, they are among a list of forgotten foods that he hopes could feed the world’s booming population.
The Prince, who helped launch the Forgotten Foods Network in Malaysia this weekend, says that the focus on finding crops that would grow in extreme temperatures is “crucial for food security over the next 20 years”.
Currently four basic crops – wheat, maize, rice and soya bean – are the source of more than half our food.
But rising temperatures and changing rainfall patterns are making soils less fertile and supplies less secure.
The aim of the initiative is to uncover less fashionable foods that could replace them.
So what are the forgotten foods that could soon become as commonplace as bread and potatoes?
Pigweed helps to boost immunity, lower blood pressure, fight stress and increase libido
Grown in the foothills of the Himalayas the leaves of this fast-growing deciduous tree – also known as moringa – are a nutritional powerhouse.
One 25g serving of cooked leaves can provide 272 per cent of an adult’s recommended daily amount of vitamin A and 125 per cent of the calcium.
The plant has been credited with boosting immunity, lowering blood pressure, fighting stress and increasing libido.
It’s also said to be good for hair, nails and skin.
The immature seed pods, known as “drumsticks”, are commonly consumed in South America and are prepared by cooking in a curry until soft.
Quinoa is considered to be the ‘lost crop of the Incas’
Considered to be the “lost crop of the Incas” this seed extracted from a herbaceous plant contains all eight of the essential amino acids but foodies only rediscovered its nutritious properties in the 1990s.
The Incas grew it for thousands of years and regarded it as their “mother grain”.
Simmered for 15 minutes and used in place of rice, the wholegrain (pronounced keen-wah) has now been recognised by the United Nations as a super crop.
Not only is it packed with magnesium, iron and dietary fibre it is also gluten-free and easy to digest.
Eating dragon fruits helps lower the risk of getting certain cancers
A native of Central America the pitaya – or dragon fruit – is also grown and exported from Southeast Asian countries such as Thailand and Vietnam.
Its flower, which looks like an explosion of flame, gives it its name but it is the bright pink, rosebud shaped fruit that is edible.
Being high in antioxidants, studies show that pitaya may be effective at lowering the risk of certain cancers.
Dark red varieties taste like watermelon, the white fleshed type have a milder tang.
The seeds are soft, much like those in kiwi fruit.
Ground or whole chia seeds are a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins, thiamin and niacin
Once cultivated by the Aztecs, chia was as important as maize in ancient Mexico behind only corn and beans.
Ground or whole chia seeds are a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins, thiamin and niacin.
They can be used in drinks, energy bars, breakfast cereals or bread.
They can also absorb up to 12 times their weight in liquid with the resulting gel used to replace up to 25 per cent of the egg and oil content in cakes as a nutritious alternative.
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Dr Hilary Jones said there could one day be ‘a brew infused with the same drugs as the contraceptive’ and a ‘tea combined with painkillers’, could this be a future superfood?
Familiar in Asian markets for its shape and bright green frills this seed pod – also known as the dragon bean – can grow up to nine inches long but tastes better when picked small, no more than six inches long.
Commercial growers have yet to settle on a name and they are currently sold as four-angled beans, Goa beans and princess beans.
But other parts of this versatile plant are edible too.
The leaves can be eaten like spinach, the flowers can be used in salads and its tubers have been attracting attention in the scientific press because of their high protein content which can be up to 20 per cent – way ahead of potatoes and yams.
Even the dried and ground seeds make a flour and a coffee-like drink.
Once boiled, Bambara can be mashed or used in soup
The pods of this tropical plant – a staple in West Africa – are wrinkled and half an inch long.
Once boiled they can be mashed or used in soup.
Studies have revealed Bambara is a complete food, providing all the adult daily nutritional requirements for protein, carbohydrate and fat.
With the possibility of being grown in any sunny climate where tomatoes do well, studies are under way to increase yield with a view to canning the pods for consumption.
Aronia Berries have often been acknowledged as the world’s healthiest fruit
Often acknowledged as the world’s healthiest fruit this purple super berry contains three times as many antioxidants as blueberries, blackberries and acai berries.
It helps to ward off urinary tract infections, improves blood circulation and reduces the risk of heart disease.
It also helps to maintain normal blood pressure and can help people manage diabetes.
In its natural state the berry is very astringent so is best when sweetened and made into jams and juices.
● If you would like to contribute to the project share your recipes at forgottenfoodsnetwork.org