Succulents for dinner? Heat-tolerant ‘sea beans’ may become important food source as climate change accelerates

salicornia europaea ms
Image: Marco Schmidt, via Wikipedia

In southern Israel’s stifling heat, rows of salicornia, commonly known as sea asparagus or sea beans, grow under translucent tarps, planted into ground more sand than soil, irrigated with saltwater. This environment would kill most plants, but these segmented succulents look beautiful — green and healthy. In partnership with researchers at Ben Gurion University of the Negev, local farmers are exporting them to markets in nearby countries.

Sea beans taste like salty cucumber and grow wild in coastal areas around the globe. But in recent years researchers have begun to focus on them for agriculture …. These researchers’ efforts are defining what extremes the plant can withstand, its nutrient needs and how to get it to grow faster and with greater yield. As the planet warms and the seas rise, resilient crops such as sea beans might become climate saviors. But only if we are willing to eat them.

Related article:  This indoor farmer wants to turn rural Kentucky into America's 'high-tech agriculture capital'

Climate change is already affecting our food supply. In a paper published [in 2019], researchers calculated that the available calories from the world’s top 10 food crops were 1 percent less annually than they would have been without the impact of climate change.

Read full, original article: As the planet warms, unusual crops could become climate saviors — if we’re willing to eat them

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