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Five little-known vegetables that could help end hunger

Native vegetables such as guar, Dogon shallot, and celosia could play an important role in feeding Africa.

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Celosia in Action: In addition to their nutritional and aesthetic value, Celosia may also help repress striga, a parasitic weed which devastates other crops including sorghum, millet, and maize. Although the research on this trait is still far from clear, farmers call it “striga chaser.”

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5. African Eggplant: The African Eggplant is technically a fruit, but it is usually picked when it is green and eaten as a vegetable. The plant itself can grow in “agricultural wastelands,” is somewhat drought resistant, and has the ability to grow in humid areas. The garden eggs have even proven to be resistant to molds, mildews, and certain soil-borne plant pathogens. They can also be grown alongside other crops or in small pots providing a high yield of fruit from a small area.

Best Way to Eat It: The fruit is usually picked when it is green and eaten like a vegetable in stews and sauces, or even consumed raw. If picked after it is ripe, it can be enjoyed as a fruit – though some varieties are more sour than others.

African Eggplant in Action: Even though the fruit is not well known for its nutritional content – it is 92 percent water – it also provides vitamin B, beta-carotene, and vitamin C in addition to calcium, iron, and potassium.

To read more about the vegetables that are helping to alleviate hunger, see: Guar: Food, Fodder, Fertilizer & More, The Dogon Shallot: An Underground Favorite, Spider Plant: A Hardy Nutritious African Native, Celosia: Nature’s Prettiest Vegetable, and African Eggplant: The Fruit that Is Enjoyed As a Vegetable.

To purchase your own copy of State of the World 2011: Innovations that Nourish the Planet, please click HERE. And to watch the one minute book trailer, click HERE.

The original version of this story appeared at Nourishing the Planet, a blog published by the Worldwatch Institute.

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