See more from this Session: Symposium--Participatory Plant Breeding for Food Security and Conservation of Agrobiodiversity
Sunday, October 31, 2010: 2:00 PM
Long Beach Convention Center, Room 201A, Second Floor
Quelites (derived from the Nahuatl word, quilitl) are edible tender parts of herbs, vines, and shrubs that are an integral part of Mexican diets since prehispanic times. In addition to many species of wild greens, over 200 species are found in the “milpa”, the traditional Mesoamerican agricultural system based upon maize, bean, and squash and complemented by diverse plants and animals. These edible greens contribute to food security by complementing the diets of most rural communities as well as of certain sectors of the urban populations. Although quelites include domesticated plants (e.g., Phaseolus, Cucurbita, Amaranthus, Chenopodium, among others), most are synanthrophytes that grow spontaneously in cultivated fields and are considered weeds. In some cases, this latter group includes populations that are in process of domestication. Over the last five centuries, the number of species utilized and the occurrence of consumption have decreased dramatically. The major causes for such declines include: habitat changes (e.g., change in agricultural practices), abandonment, preference changes, as well as reduced availability and accessibility to the vegetal resources. Given the heterogeneous relationships between quelites and humans throughout Mexico, the participatory conservation strategies vary. Examples will be given based upon programs supported by The McKnight Foundation and Mexico’s National System of Plant Genetic Resources.