Wild edibles continue to be a significant contributor to the global food basket in much of the developing world. A consensus has now been formed that information on wild edibles is an important part of ethnobotanical knowledge and hence elucidating region-specific patterns of habitat management and consumption assists policy making with regard to natural conservation, human nutrition, and human health. Using an original data set from Gujarat, India, the present research aims to document the collective knowledge of wild edibles possessed by the local Vasava tribe, as well as the habitat usage and consumption trends of these species.
Data were collected using three approaches: key informant interviews to record the local knowledge of wild edibles and methods of collection, village group discussions to quantify past and present consumption trends, and expert interviews to elucidate the reasons for changing consumption patterns. Results: Through key informant interviews, 90 species of wild edibles from 46 botanical families were identified along with their Vasavi names, plant parts utilized, habitats, and cooking methods. Of these, 60 species were also used medicinally and 15 carried economic value. Different habitats were preferred for collection at different times of the year. Village group discussions unanimously concluded that the consumption of wild edibles has significantly reduced over time. Expert interviews identified the decreased availability of these species in their natural habitats as the most important reason for their reduced consumption.
The present study has demonstrated that the Vasavas' collective knowledge of wild edibles is vast and that these species contribute to their dietary diversity throughout the year. The finding of the present study, namely that anthropogenically managed habitats were often preferred over natural environments for the collection of wild edibles, suggests that conservation efforts should be extended beyond wild and human-uninhabited landscapes.
- Wild edibles
- Wild food plants