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Penn State researchers battle food insecurity | Centre County Gazette

UNIVERSITY PARK — Cambodia’s mountains and fields are home to underutilized and little-studied food sources. This could help him 45% of Cambodians experiencing food insecurity. It is a wild native plant that is edible and nutritious, but not everyone knows about it.

As part of a larger research initiative investigating the intersection of gender and agriculture, Sovanneary Huot, a PhD candidate in rural sociology at the Pennsylvania College of Agricultural Sciences, published “Cambodia’s Food Culture: Wild Edible Cuisine.” I created a cookbook titled We provide records such as nutritional values ​​and cooking recipes for some of these plants.

“Wild edible plants are a prominent feature in rural food systems and can alleviate malnutrition, hunger and poverty,” Hut said. Consumption may decline, and knowledge of edible plants in the wild may be lost, so we wanted to tap into and document this knowledge that has been neglected by researchers.”

The cookbook contains 13 recipes, including soups, salads, drinks and desserts, and provides detailed nutritional information on 24 indigenous plants that researchers call “wild edibles.” increase. These plants, such as climbing wattles and aquatic morning glory leaves, are rich in vitamins and minerals that Cambodians may be deficient in their diets.

According to Rick Bates, a professor of horticulture, Cambodia was an important location for research because of its high levels of food insecurity as well as low levels of food diversity.

“In the average household, there may be enough calories for the members, but most come from rice and perhaps a small amount of fish and vegetables from the garden,” Bates said. Sexuality can improve, but it is difficult because many people live in extreme poverty.”

The comprehensive research project, called Scaling Appropriate Sustainable Technologies, is a follow-up to a previous project, Women in Agriculture Network: Cambodia, which identified wild food plants as an opportunity to fight hunger. The researchers hope to gain a better understanding of how Cambodian people already use these plants and how to increase their production and use.

In her work, Hut wanted to focus on wild edible plants in the context of gender. She explained that these plants are usually found and maintained by village women, but many researchers were still unaware of how and why these women used them. .

“Women have been recognized as playing a central role in household food consumption and nutrition,” Huot said. “They are more involved in the production and utilization of wild food plants than men. Wild food plants and sex are therefore important aspects of the Cambodian food system. My research focuses on these links. I’m guessing.”

Additionally, Bates noted that while there is an oral history of the plant, there is no formal record.

“A lot of the knowledge about which plants are useful and how to collect them has been passed down through generations in these villages, but it’s never been published anywhere,” Bates said. So when young people leave their villages and move to cities, they risk losing this indigenous knowledge, as we wilden our edible plants and bring them back to start wild gardens in universities and communities. It was one of the things I wanted to do.

Hut said there is still much work to be done on the project, but he is looking forward to seeing his work make a difference in the lives of Cambodians.

“I want to share my research findings and cookbooks broadly with both grassroots and policy maker level audiences. We hope that it will help us to sustainably expand the production and use of plants.”

Attach a cookbook to capture and print some of that information. ”

After visiting Cambodia in February, Huot spent five months conducting interviews with 28 key informants. This includes local governments, cooperatives, women’s groups and community nursery owners. 231 household surveys and her 20 in-depth interviews with selected participants from the households. Research. Many of them were women. She also took a group of students from Battambang National University to the mountains and collected them.