Rooting for consumers

The International Journal of Food Science + Technology has a special issue out that sounds extremely interesting. Here’s how the introductory editorial, led by Dominique Dufour, describes it.

Consumers have their say: assessing preferred quality traits of roots, tubers and cooking bananas, and implications for breeding” special issue, brings together new knowledge about quality traits required for roots, tubers and bananas (RTB) varieties to successfully meet diverse user preferences and expectations, along the variety development and RTB value chains (production, processing, marketing, food preparation, consumption). Key RTB crops in sub‐Saharan Africa are cassava, yams, sweetpotatoes, potatoes and bananas/plantains. They are mainly consumed directly as boiled pieces or pounded in the form of smooth, not sticky, and stretchable dough. They are also stewed, steamed or fried. Cassava, the most widely grown RTB, is generally boiled, stewed or steamed in Eastern and Southern Africa, and in West and Central Africa is usually processed directly into derivative products, e.g. whole root fermentation through retting or heap fermentation; fermentation/dewatering of the mash. Biophysical and social knowledge presented in this issue help elaborate goals for both the processing unit operations (food scientist control) and variety traits (breeder control).

In a perfect world, I’d do a deep-dive Brainfood on the whole thing, but that’s looking highly unlikely at the moment, so let me whet your appetite with this nice illustration from the paper “Cyanogenic, carotenoids and protein composition in leaves and roots across seven diverse population found in the world cassava germplasm collection at CIAT, Colombia.”

All the papers are open access. Anyone out there want to help me out with a dedicated Brainfood? Maybe go halves?

Bean there, done that

Back in the day, together with co-authors Nigel Maxted and Edwin Chiwona, I used maps from the Atlas of Common Bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) Production in Africa1 in a little thing called A Methodological Model for Ecogeographic Surveys of Crops. I don’t remember what software we used, and how difficult it was to do, as it was getting on for 25 years ago, but I suspect it was a bit of struggle mashing up the maps with genebank accession locality data.

Well, there’s a new edition of the atlas out, and, thanks to Genesys and Google Earth, it’s not quite so difficult (the colours represent ecologically distinct bean production areas).

Which is not to say it couldn’t be a bit easier. I mean, why not allow people to import their own data on the atlas’ nifty online interactive maps?

Oh, and BTW, only a tiny percentage of bean accessions from Kenya are geo-referenced, so that hasn’t changed much in 25 years.

  1. Wortmann CS, Kirby RA, Eledu CA, Allen DJ. 1998. CIAT, Cali, Colombia. pp. 133 []

Nibbles: Transformation, Livestock pod, Coffee pod, GHUs, Viz double, Yaupon, Wild foods, GRIN, Korean vegetables, Oz Indigenous bakers, Warwick vegetables

  1. IAASTD ten years on. Not many people hurt.
  2. Interesting new ILRI podcast hits the airwaves.
  3. And here’s another new podcast: A History of Coffee. So far so pretty good.
  4. Meanwhile, CIP rounds up recent webinars on germplasm health.
  5. Fun visualizations on the seasonality of food.
  6. Speaking of visualizations, RAWGraphs is a pretty neat tool.
  7. North America used to have a native caffeinated beverage, the attractively named Ilex vomitoria.
  8. Maybe South Africa’s local wild foods have a better chance.
  9. Using USDA’s genebank database, GRIN.
  10. Not sure if this Korean-American farmer does (access USDA’s genebank database, do keep up), but probably.
  11. I wonder if any of these Australian wild foods will find their way into a genebank, just in case.
  12. Genebanks like the UK veggie one at Warwick.