Superfoods from the forest


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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).

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Superfoods from the forest

  3. 3. AIMS • Identify plants that show potential as superfoods’. • Potential for sustainable harvested wild non timber forest products • Provide tangible economic incentives for communities to conserve forests (potential conservation spin- offs )
  4. 4. Context 1 Need to find income generating activities associated with proposed community protected areas for the Wild Coast One of the key threats to conservation in communal areas such as the Wild Coast is the lack of economic benefits associated with the creation of protected areas on the Wild Coast (Berliner, & Desmet, 2007; Berliner 2009)
  5. 5. Growing market trend for wild ‘superfoods’ A number of wild plant foods have been successfully commercialised with significant benefits for local communities • • • • • • • Baobab fruit Marula nut oil Kigelia fruit Trichelia oil Cape Aloe Hoodia Amaranth (marog)
  6. 6. Two Southern African wild plants that has been commercially marketed, as a ‘superfood Baobab fruit powder
  7. 7. Marula nut oil. Both are wild grown, sustainably harvested and benefit local communities
  8. 8. LA Times Predicts: Hot nutrition trend for 2009 -- the baobab? “ a superfruit should have a hard-to-pronounce name, be unfamiliar to Westerners, come from far, far away and have been used in native medicine. It should also be expensive”
  9. 9. • This project was essentially a desktop study , but its implementation, could make significant contribution to following CEPF funding outcomes : Outcome: Superfoods from the forest project : outcomes Forest conservation and rehabilitation incentivized Improved resilience to climate change Economic activities associated with PA (Job creation) `Intermediate Outcomes x Outcome 1: The conservation status of undercapacitated and emerging protected areas in priority key biodiversity areas strengthened xxx Outcome 2: Conservation areas expanded and landuse management improved in 22 priority key biodiversity areas through innovative approaches that sustain biodiversity and ecosystem services xxx Outcome 3: Maintain and restore ecosystem function and integrity in the Highland Grasslands and Pondoland Corridors. xx x xx xxx xxx
  10. 10. Potential outcomes and benefits • Improved livelihood security • Improved incentives for conserving and rehabilitating degrading forests • Improved documentation and appreciation of indigenous knowledge, in particular use of wild food products • Climate change adaptation
  11. 11. Methods • Literature review on wild plants utilized in the communal areas of the Eastern Cape • Personal field observations • Development of a search-able database of nutritional values of wild food plants for South Africa • Development and ranking of two nutritional indices that provide aggregated values of macro and micro nutritional contents of wild foods
  12. 12. Nutritional indices • % Complete Food Index – A measure of the extent to which plant food meets overall dietary requirements , as measured against recommended daily allowances (RDA) for the main macro and micro nutrients – Sum (Value of nutrient x /RDA for nutrient x) , (with maximum value of 100% , in cases where the nutrient exceeds the RDA)
  13. 13. Nutritional indices • Approximate Nutrient Density – A measure of the total nutrients provided in a food relative to its energy value. – For example, foods that are high in energy but low in nutrients (e.g. starches) will have a low nutritional density, as large amounts of the food need to be eaten before basic nutrient requirement can be satisfied.
  14. 14. Table 1 Example of the evaluation indicators used: Nutrient Density and %Complete Food Index. Table shows indicators for six wild fruits. The RDA is the recommended daily allowances as given by World Health Organization. See text for methods GENUS SPECIES ASH_g_100g PROTEIN_g_100g FAT_g_100g CARBOHYDRATE_g_100g CRUDE_FIBER_g_100g Ca_mg_100g Mg_mg_100g Fe_mg_100g Na_mg_100g K_mg_100g Cu_mg_100g Zn_mg_100g Mn_mg_100g P_mg_100g Thiamin_mg_100g Riboflavin_mg_100g Nicotinic_acid_mg_100g Vit_C_mg_100g sum ENERGY_kj_100g Nut density index Complete food index % Confidence factor (%) Eugenia capensis Harpephyllum caffrum Sideroxylon inerme Phoenix reclinata Carissa bispinosa Podocarpus falcatus 1 0.9 0.4 27.7 1.4 0.8 0.7 0.2 9.1 1.7 47 23.7 0.6 5.73 254 0.14 0.14 2.3 4.3 4.4 17.3 1.5 46.4 41.7 1.18 0.7 0.7 1.2 14 1.8 20.6 19.8 0.81 10.3 261 0.23 0.43 1.2 3 0.3 17.6 5.2 46 20.1 1.6 11.5 460 0.98 0.2 13.3 0.12 17 0.06 0.09 0.55 14.8 633.88 529 1.2 10 90 3.9 3.2 0.7 46.3 9.8 50.6 79.2 182 67 1329 0.33 0.76 0.81 33 0.03 0.02 1.16 25.9 0.05 0.08 0.32 10.6 368.52 292 1.3 7 90 10.3 0.04 26.7 1.67 66.5 209 0.14 0.04 31.8 0.11 0.03 0.39 107 474.78 496 1.0 15 90 70.7 427.93 172 2.5 10 85 482 0.1 0.2 1807.81 858 2.1 2 95 1.13 579.15 357 1.6 10 90 RDA 50 65 300 25 1000 400 18 2400 3500 2 15 400 1000 1.5 1.7 20 60
  15. 15. Database of wild foods nutritional values The work of Wehmeyer (1986), assessed over 350 southern African wild food plants for macro nutrients (protein, fiber, carbohydrat es, energy) and micro nutrients (minerals and vitamins). This was digitized into a relational database
  16. 16. Methodology summarised
  17. 17. Results 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 ‘superfood’.
  18. 18. Wild vegetables • The wild leafy vegetables, commonly known as ‘wild spinach/Marog/imfino ’, 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 ‘superfood’
  19. 19. fruits • The following wild fruits as having high potential for commercial harvesting: • Wild plum (Harpephyllum caffrum), • Two Red- milkwoods, (Mimisops Cafra and M. obvata), • Num-num (Carissa Macrocarpa), • Dune myrtle (Eugenia Capensis) • Kei Apples (Dovyalis caffra, and D. rhamnoides
  20. 20. Seeds and nuts • Pods of Boer-bean trees (Schotia afra, and S. brachypetala • valuable oils of the Natal and forest mahogany (Trichilia emetica, and T. dregiana) • high oleic oil contained in the Coastal Redmilkwood (Mimusops caffra).
  21. 21. Vit c content of selected fruits
  22. 22. Established products Carrisa fruits: jams , dehydrated powder, juices etc Trichelia oil Skin butter to nourish and revitalise. Conditioning hair care products. Soaps. Wood polish
  23. 23. Potential products ? Red milkwood seed oil • The oleic acid (OA) content of Transvaal Red milkwood (M. zeyheri) seed oil is high (about 85% of lipid yield) • Compares well with the 70–78% oleic acid in Sclerocarya birrea (Marula tree) kernel oil • Likely that the coastal Red milkwood (M. Cafra) seeds have the same properties ??
  24. 24. Can red milkwoods provide a NTFP that can provide the necessary incentives to reverse there degradation ?
  25. 25. Social benefits • Small to medium enterprises based on sustainable harvest of no-timber-forestproducts • Partnerships with community trusts • Job creation and stimulation of local economy • Provide tangible benefits from the creation of protected areas
  26. 26. Conservations benefits? NTFP have the potential to provide local communities with economic incentives to conserve forests Currently scarp and coastal forest rapidly degrading mostly due - Slash and burn agriculture - Non sustainable harvesting, bark, medical plants, Illegal timber harvesting - Invasive aliens - Goats
  27. 27. Loss of Scarp Forests Invasive alien plants rapidly colonize fallow cleared lands. These areas provide a foothold for invasive plants to spread into surrounding grasslands and forest
  28. 28. Forest degradation caused by Chromoleana and creeper spread Is climate change stimulating this ?
  29. 29. 17 estuaries with mangroves, three have lost all mangroves and 5 have had significant loss Prime causes : mangrove flooding (climate change , change in flow regime) and over harvesting
  30. 30. Shifting sands in dune forests
  31. 31. …they enter forest to feed on fallen red milkwood fruit
  32. 32. Way forward • Detail chemical analysis of targeted superfoods for nutritional content and for possible anti- nutritional compounds (such as oxalic and phytic acid) • Investigation into the development of storage methods , processing and end products • Markets, and links to distributors (Phytotrade etc) • Mapping and inventorying of target wild plant stocks and potential volumes of sustainably harvested products. • Investigation into techniques of sustainable management , harvesting and impact mitigation • Set up joint management agreements • Set up community partnership organizations