Wild Vegetables usefulness
The contribution of Wild Vegetables in our everyday life is multibranched. In particular, these plant species are mainly used in our nutrition, as well as medicines in terms of traditional medicine either unprocessed (as cataplasms or powder) or as commercially available medicines.
Furthermore, the usage of Wild Vegetables as medicines is not restricted to humans, but these can also be used in animal breeding. Also, these species can be utilized in agricultural sector either to control soil borne pathogens or in order to hamper fungi development spotted on fruits and vegetables after their harvest. Moreover, wild vegetables contain, like Medicinal and Aromatic Plants bioactive substances and secondary metabolites whose presence is responsible for all above mentioned uses.
Additionally, it is worth mentioning the potential utilization of these species on the development of ecotourism, mainly in areas where used to thrive and consequently bringing to light traditional recipes that were possibly obsolete.
Bond between society and Wild Vegetables
Wild Vegetables held a prominent position, mainly in periods characterized by sociopolitical turbulence. However, despite the attempts aimed to promote these species on gourmet cuisine and recognize them as healthy foodstuffs, these species are still undervalued. This contempt for these species is due to the abandonment of rural activities and generally due to the lacking contact between human and nature.
Nevertheless, this phenomenon has been observed from the Renaissance era – in an era that food scarcity didn’t exist – due to several reasons. One of those was the establishment of the stereotype that wild vegetables were cheap food which only poor people eat. Moreover, the introduction of new cultivated plant species, such as sugar beets had redefined the peoples’ nutritional habits. Furthermore, scarce education about Wild Vegetables fosters the perpetuation of the above mentioned phenomenon.
Factors influencing Wild Vegetable collection
Despite the almost obscure importance of wild vegetable species in our everyday life, there are still people who collect these plants. Referring to the capability of these plant collection, this is influenced by many factors. The most important of them has to do with the accessibility on places where these thrive, as well as the reason that someone collects them.
Moreover, in these factors are included the distance of households from markets which distribute them,even the gender of the head of the household. For example, women prefer gathering wild vegetables, while men prefer other activities that have to do with food gathering, such as hunting or fishing. Last but not least, the difficulty in their cleaning and consequently in their preparation on meals has a significant impact on the likelihood of collecting them, because nowadays it is difficult to find time cleaning them.
Wild Vegetables as part of Mediterranean Diet
As previously stated, wild vegetables are mainly used for peoples’ nutrition. However, it is important to focus on Mediterranean Diet, because of the fact that these plants are eaten together with extra virgin olive oil, which is believed to be the basis of this nutritional system.
These plant species are characterized by high nutritional value, because these contain antioxidants in significant amounts as compared to other consumption sources, such as wine. Also, it has been proved that when Cretan Diet, a nutritional model based on the principles of Mediterranean Diet is adopted by someone, has less possibilities to suffer from cardiovascular diseases.
Proposals for promoting Wild Vegetable importance in everyday life
While wild vegetables remain almost unnoticed by people, there are several actions to be taken in order to demonstrate the actual importance of these species in our everyday life.
First and foremost, there is the urgent need to inform society about the beneficial uses of wild vegetables by any means (mainly via internet and media). Also, in this attempt can contribute famous chefs or people who have deeper knowledge about these plants than the general public.
Moreover, the production of wild vegetable propagules combined with promotion of their cultivation through financial incentives would make feasible to cultivate these plants more extensively. Last but not least, some species of these plants can be potentially utilized on plant breeding, due to their adaptability on harsh weather conditions.
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