Wildflower is published quarterly by the Wildflower Center. Its content is national in scope with articles about the conservation and use of native plants as well as news from the Wildflower Center. A subscription is provided to Wildflower Center members as a benefit of membership.
NOWADAYS, MORE PEOPLE SEEM TO CARE about what food goes in their mouths. The past few years saw documentary films like "Food, Inc." and "Fresh" garnering critical acclaim and helping make many people more active consumers of what goes on their table. The "local food" movement, backyard gardening and edible landscaping are enjoying more participation.
The time seemed right to think about how native and adapted plants fit into that new food consciousness. It was years ago when freelance writer Sandra D. Lynn learned to prepare mesquite in her Southwestern kitchen. For this issue of Wildflower, she authored an article ("Food for Thought," page 20) about plant scientists and agricultural ecologists who are finding ways to turn native and adapted perennial plants – like mesquite – into food crops.
If they succeed in doing so, the food that comes to your table could be more than just organic or local. It will be the result of research that sets out to revolutionize agriculture. Perennial types of maize, sunflowers, rice, wheat, legumes and oilseed crops would be major food crops that take the place of annual types of wheat, rice, corn, sunflowers, mustard and legumes. Plants like the Mexican grass nipa as well as mesquite also are being researched, since their ability to thrive in heat, drought – and in the case of nipa, salinity – make them good candidates for a changing climate.
Because these perennials would stay put and not require tilling of soil and replanting year after year as do the annuals, they will be gentler on the land. If they are natives and well-adapted perennials, they also could have less need for irrigation, pesticides and fertilizers. If these scientists succeed in creating this new agricultural reality, consumers will be more in charge of what food goes in their mouths, and natural plant communities will be back in charge of the landscape.
— Christina Kosta Procopiou, Editor