[permaculture] [Fwd: [SANET-MG] Jerusalem Artichokes, An Overlooked Market

David Travis djtravis at hotmail.com
Fri Apr 4 14:40:38 EDT 2008

Re: artichokes, I'm wondering whether or not they have been "overlooked" because they simply don't make a very good food source.

I remember reading an article in the British Journal of Medicine talking about how inulin, the main chemical in Jerusalem artichokes, is not digestible by the human gut. This is presumably why Jerusalem artichokes are "great" for dieters, so the promotional emails go, but I doubt that many people realize that they are "great for dieters" in the same sense that eating sawdust or any other non-digestable organic substance is "great".

Part of me is always hoping that Jerusalem artichokes really are a great food, and that somehow I've misunderstood something about the varieties that are out there or how it behaves in the human gut. I kind of doubt that a different variety of J.a. magically avoids this problem, since the problem has to do with the basic way the plant stores its energy, rather than some incidental feature that could be bred out of it. Nevertheless, if anyone who knows more about the plants  or nutrition can weigh in here, I'd really appreciate it.

Because the other part of me is just kind of dumbfounded that people are still trying very hard to convince themselves and others to eat a plant that is fundamentally indigestible, in which case it would be a prime example of permaculture hype gone awry.

I hope that's not the case, of course. I love the idea of a food plant growing like a weed.

- David

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