Chief Science Correspondent
Gary Paul Nabhan spoke at Ohio University this week on fostering diversity - both culturally and biologically - in local food industries. Nabhan is an ethnobotonist, meaning he studies the relationship between people and plants. He has partnered with organizations across the country to reintroduce forgotten crops, particularly those with ties to indigenous cultures, into communities.
Nabhan argued that communities can rescue and re-cultivate wild crops, selecting for traits that will make them more resilient and profitable. He cited the pawpaw (the Ohio state native fruit) as an example of a culturally important fruit that, if marketed correctly, could improve the economic state of the community surrounding OU. Athens County, Oh. is the poorest county in the state, but is also home to one of the state's largest farmers markets.
Nabhan proposed that by financially supporting local markets in their efforts to recultivate unique, underutilized or forgotten crops, communities such as that of Athens County can become stronger financially and culturally.