This presentation describes a study to identify plants and plant parts that show potential as sustainable harvested ‘super-foods’. This included both wild foods traditionally used in Southern Africa (with a focus on the communal areas of the Wild Coast, Eastern Cape South Africa), as well as potential foods not traditionally used , but with high nutritional values. The methods used included development of a data base of wild food utilized in Southern Africa, with a focus on the communal areas of the Eastern Cape (literature review and personal observations); collation of available nutritional data (macro and micro nutrients) into a database for wild food plants for southern Africa. To assist in ranking nutritional values, two nutritional indices were used: the % Complete Food Index and the Nutritional Density Index).
This report develops a definition of a ‘superfoods’ based on number of criteria. Species that have been successfully commercialized, marketed as nutritional supplements, and that provide direct benefits to communities, such as Maroela and Baobab, serve as role models for the development of wild foods enterprises in the communal areas of the Wild Coast
The results of this study show that there are a significant number of wild food plants have exceptionally high nutritional profiles and could qualify as a ‘super-food’. Food plants were grouped according to the plant part used, these included: wild leafy vegetables, fruits, and seeds and nuts.The wild leafy vegetables, commonly known as ‘wild spinach’,are cosmopolitan weeds that have been part of the traditional diets of many Africans. Of these, a number of Amaranth species have been identified that fit the nutritional profile of a ‘super-food’. Commonly used wild foods are often tree fruits, this study identifiedthe following wild fruits as having high potential for commercial harvesting, these include:Wild plum (Harpephyllum caffrum), two Red- milkwoods, (Mimisops Cafra and M. obvata), Num-num (Carissa Macrocarpa), Dune myrtle (Eugenia Capensis) and two Kei Apples (Dovyalis caffra, and D. rhamnoides. The third category of wild foods considered are seeds and nuts: trees identified for this group included the pods of Boer-bean trees (Schotia afra, and S. brachypetala),andthe valuable oils of the Natal and forest mahogany (Trichilia emetica, and T. dregiana) as well as the high oleic oil contained in the Coastal Red-milkwood (Mimusops caffra).