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Ethnie Foods  as a source for new Functional Crops


Dr.  Matar Khalid- TRD-Center

Dr.  Nativ Dudai- Vocani Center


Arabs living in Israel and the Palestinian Authority have, for centuries, collected native plants as a source of food and medicine (functional food), and traditional knowledge associated with their uses has, over several millennia, passed on from generation to generation.  Socioeconomic changes in the Arab society have, however, been accompanied by an increasing erosion in the diversity of native plants and related traditional knowledge. Such losses are expected to have negative consequences to the whole Arab society.  Ethnobotanical research can assess traditional knowledge in danger of extinction, and can provide leads for the development of renew traditional food crops.

Conservation, documentation and domestication of this neglected -and in many ways underutilized- Palestine Agro biodiversity wealth, are among those most urgent actions needed to halt and revert these processes.  Nevertheless, whereas the rich indigenous knowledge on the medicinal use of wild plants has been relatively well documented, research, particularly concerning the socio-economic, cultural, traditional, and nutritional aspects of wild-food plants still lack adequate attention. In this case, only a little, if anything, has been systematically documented on this subject. The study presented here addresses these issues and will contribute directly to the preservation and documentation of Arab traditional foods, protection of genetic diversity, and to the development of new healthy crops


Objectives and expected significance of the research.

  1. Development of an in depth understanding of the role of indigenous knowledge about edible  wild plants:  identification, collection, and usage in improving health with attention to the recording and dissemination of traditional methods of identification, sustainable harvesting and consumption
  2. Exploring the potential of indigenous wild food plants in Palestine and determination of the nutritional and health value of traditional food plants, and development an in-depth understanding of the potential contribution of local plant diversity to improving health and diets in the region.
  3. Development of new healthful crops includes field trials to evaluate agronomic traits.
  4. Promoting healthier eating habits through the use of traditional foods and wild edible plants
  5. Develop a program to promote wild edible plants to improve dietary diversity at local and national levels.