NEWS Penn State researchers tackle food insecurity with native, plant-based recipes

Penn State researchers tackle food insecurity with native, plant-based recipes

The overall research project, called ‘Scaling up appropriate sustainable technologies’, is a follow-up to a previous project called ‘Women in Agriculture Network: Cambodia’, which identified wild edible plants as an opportunity to fight hunger. The researchers hope to better understand how Cambodians use the plants, and ways to increase their production and use.

For her work, Holt wanted to focus on wild edible plants in a gender context. While the plants are often discovered and managed by women in villages, many researchers still don’t know how and why these women use them, she explained.

“Women have been recognized as central players in household food consumption and nutrition,” Hult said. “Women are more involved in the production and utilization of wild food plants than men. Therefore, wild food plants and gender are key dimensions of food systems in Cambodia. My research focuses on these linkages.”

Additionally, Bates noted that while there is an oral history of the plants, there are no formal records.

“A lot of knowledge about which plants are useful and how to collect them is passed down from generation to generation in these villages, but it’s not published anywhere,” Bates said. “So as young people leave the villages and move to the cities, there is a risk that this indigenous knowledge will be lost. That’s one of the things we’re trying to accomplish with this cookbook, which is to capture some of that information and put it into print. “

After traveling to Cambodia in February, Hult spent five months conducting 28 key informant interviews – including interviews with local authorities, cooperatives, women’s groups and community nursery owners – 231 household surveys, and 20 An in-depth interview poll with selected participants in the household. Many of them are women. She also led a group of students from Madurban State University to the mountains to collect wild edible plants and bring them back to start wild gardens at the university and in the community.

Huot said that while the project still has a lot of work to do, she looks forward to her work making a difference in the lives of Cambodians.

“I hope to share my research and recipes widely with a grassroots and policy-maker level audience. By disseminating knowledge about the benefits of wild food plants, I hope my work can help to sustainably expand the production and use of wild food plants. “

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