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close this bookBioconversion of Organic Residues for Rural Communities (UNU, 1979)
close this folderProduction of microbial protein foods on edible substrates, food by-products, and ligno-cellulosic wastes
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentPreface
View the documentIntroduction
View the documentContributions to the solution of nutritional problems
View the documentDevelopment of protein-rich vegetarian meat substitutes in the western world
View the documentReferences
View the documentDiscussion summary


Dr. Noel Vietmeyer of the Board on Science and Technology for International Development, National Academy of Sciences (US), reported discussing the miracle winged bean plant with an influential Filipino family. When he showed them that the beans were already growing on a fence in the servants' quarters, they were disappointed and said, "It's only a poor man's crop." Dr. Vietmeyer commented, "Some of the Third World's best crops may be waiting in the poor man's garden, ignored by science. Merely to have survived as useful crops suggests that the plants are inherently superior. They are already suited to the poor man's small plot and to his mixed farming, his poor soil, his diet, and the way of life of his family and village" (1).

His statement recalled my experiences working with the indigenous fermented foods in Indonesia. It has only been since the Western world began to research and use Indonesian tempeh that the topic has gained enough prestige to encourage Indonesian scientists to research their own foods. An Indonesian scientist told me that, in the past, he would not have had the nerve to approach his administration with the suggestion that he work on this familiar fermented food because he would have been refused permission Only recently have the West and the developing world begun to realize the gold mine of information that is available regarding indigenous methods the developing countries themselves have evolved at the village level to feed people on minimal incomes. We have much to learn about how to utilize our bioresources to greatest advantage in feeding the world of the future. It would be a great mistake not to make maximal use of available village-level technology. However, it would also be a mistake not to recognize the part prestige plays in acceptance of foods, not only for the rich but also for the poor As soon as the Western world adopts a poor man's or a village food, that food takes on enhanced prestige and it tends to be accepted much more widely than before.