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As the Planet Warms, Unusual Crops Could Become Climate Saviors – If We’re Willing to Eat Them

What role can lesser-known crops that thrive under adversity play in efforts to make our global food supply more resilient to climate change?

This article, my first for Ensia, is a result of a reporting trip to Israel, under the Murray Fromson Journalism Fellowship. I had never been to the Middle East, or even felt a particular affinity to it, but I learned so much during the ten days I spent in Israel, and later on my own in Jordan and now I hope I am able to return. I ate probably some of the best food of my life, toured a desalination plant, a vineyard, multiple agricultural beds, talked to researchers, saw new animals, and had some wonderful adventures.

One of the covered beds in the desert was growing "sea beans" which I recognized from the shores of my home on the Puget Sound! Someone had told me they were edible, but I had never thought them more than a curiosity. Yet, here they were being cultivated--of course! These plants are some of the few that can tolerate the salty soil of the once-underwater desert of Israel, OR the tides of the Puget Sound. What if, I thought to myself, instead of fighting our soil and climate to grow food, we worked with them? What if we focused on hearty species that can handle the changes climate change will bring? Why are we not doing this already? I wanted to write about these questions. All my thanks to the editors who said yes.


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