Could duckweed feed the world?

phys.org | 3/6/2013 | Staff
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Climate change is threatening the world's food supply and the risk of supply disruptions is expected to grow as temperatures rise, according to a new United Nations report co-authored by Rutgers human ecology professor Pamela McElwee. So, how would we feed everyone if the Earth's population hits 9.7 billion in 2050 as projected?

Duckweed, the world's fastest-growing plant, which has more protein than soybeans and is a traditional food source for people living in parts of Southeast Asia, could be one of the key solutions, according to Eric Lam, a Distinguished Professor in the Department of Plant Biology in the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences at Rutgers University–New Brunswick.

Lam - Forefront - Duckweed - Research - Development

Lam is at the forefront of duckweed research and development at Rutgers, which has the world's largest collection of duckweed species and their strains.

What is duckweed?

Duckweed - Family - Species - Locales - World

The duckweed family includes 37 species from locales all over the world. They're tiny aquatic plants that float on water, they're easy to harvest and they can grow on wastewater. Some strains have very high protein levels—up to 30 or 40 percent by dry weight. As such, duckweed is more nutritious than salad alone, which has good fiber content and vitamins but not a lot of protein. Some duckweed strains provide nutritional benefits, while others are used in traditional folk medicine. As its name implies, duckweed is eaten by ducks—as well as other waterfowl and animals—and behaves much like a weed: it multiplies rapidly, especially on water rich with nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphate.

How does duckweed taste?

Strains - Anthocyanins—purple - Plant - Pigments - Activity—can

It tastes quite mild in general, although some strains with higher anthocyanins—purple plant pigments with antioxidant activity—can have a slightly bitter aftertaste. Everyone in my lab as well as visitors have eaten it. For example, you can mix it with cottage cheese on a cracker or you can put it...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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