Disseminating knowledge about 'local food plants' and 'local plant foods'

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Rivera, D, Heinrich, M, Obón, C, Inocencio, C, Nebel, S, Verde, A, Fajardo, J 2006, 'Disseminating knowledge about 'local food plants' and 'local plant foods'', Forum of Nutrition, vol. 59, pp. 75-85.

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Ethnobotanical approaches to the study of Mediterranean food plants offer novel ways for analyzing and preserving traditional knowledge and agrobiodiversity in the Mediterranean area. This article highlights our strategy to increase the awareness within traditional knowledge systems and encourage the continuous evolution of it, avoiding the loss of substantial parts of the local cultural and biological diversity. The strategy is part of a broader stream of thought, which does attempt to disseminate information locally in a multitude of ways, e.g. through a range of publications in rural or urban zones, to people with or without formal education, to children or the elderly. This article is a very personal account of the experience of the authors, but there is an urgent need to assess the impact of such activities on a broader level, and, also, to reassess the impact researchers have on the communities. Our clear impression in all field sites has been that the simple fact that such traditional knowledge systems are the focus of scientific investigation are an essential element of giving renewed sociocultural value to such knowledge and that activities like the ones described here are of great interest to the communities we worked in.