Data_Sheet_1_How Many Wild Edible Plants Do We Eat—Their Diversity, Use, and Implications for Sustainable Food System: An Exploratory Analysis in India.doc

2020-06-11T04:36:00Z (GMT) by Avik Ray Rajasri Ray E. A. Sreevidya

Wild edible plants are still eaten by a large section of the global population and ensure both affordable food and nutritional security. We tested this in an Indian context, where an enormous diversity of such plants constitutes a significant part of the rural diet and their acceptance has been high. In this study, we assessed the diversity of wild edible plant resource and the importance of species based on the use and its pattern. We have also shortlisted a set of plants to make an informed decision on prioritization. We found a great variety of plants (1,403 species) from 184 families were consumed across India, although the first 44 families (24%) contributed largely to the (75%) diversity. Leguminosae followed by Compositae, Poaceae, Malvaceae, and Rosaceae, were the families with the highest number of species. We note that a few species from the large pool were extensively used throughout the country while another few were valued for their multiple edible plant parts. Leafy shoots (722 species) followed by fruits (652 species) were the two most-eaten plant parts. Our results strengthen the fact that: (a) wild edibles have been an integral part of the diet; (b) their widespread assimilation into local food culture suggests an untapped potential to ensure easy availability and access to micronutrients for sustainable food systems, and thus in social welfare; and (c) they should be incorporated into the national food policy for formal cultivation and promotion.