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Title: Wild edible plants : promoting dietary diversity in poor communities of Lebanon; final technical report
Authors: Batal, Malek
Hamadeh, Shadi
Hwalla, Nahla
Kabbani, Nader
Talhouk, Salma
Date: 2007
Publisher: American University of Beirut, Beirut, LB
Abstract: Problems of under- and over-nutrition are prevailing in developing countries including Lebanon, the Middle East and North Africa as a result of poor dietary intake, characterized by a heavy reliance on refined grains (white flour) as the primary source of energy. Moreover, an increase in the rates of chronic non communicable diseases (cardiovascular disease, diabetes) has been detected shedding a light on the emerging “nutrition transition” experienced by these countries, more specifically lack of food diversity. In November 2004, the Department of Nutrition and Food Science in partnership with the Initiative for Biodiversity in Arid Regions (IBSAR) and the Environment and Sustainable Development Unit (ESDU) at the American University of Beirut (AUB) started implementing the project “Wild Edible Plants: Promoting Dietary Diversity in Poor Communities of Lebanon” (WEP-DD) with the aim to promote diet diversification through supporting the consumption of traditional foods and wild edible plants. The research aimed at quantifying dietary diversity in the surveyed communities and investigating the associations between dietary diversity and food security and between dietary diversity and various risk factors for chronic disease. The hypothesis of the research work was that the consumption of wild edible plants would improve nutritional intake and sustain biodiversity in the ecosystem thus contributing to both human and ecosystem health. This project has developed an in-depth understanding of the role of indigenous knowledge about wild plants identification, collection, and usage through several Masters’ theses, reports, cookbooks and a comprehensive database of 46 plants. An assessment of the nutritional and health status in 3 rural poor communities was carried out by administering a questionnaire (total of 1000) including socio-demographic and dietary parameters. In addition, investigations of policy options to promote dietary diversification have evolved into a policy profile and brief. The setup of the Healthy Kitchen network in Aarsal, Kuakh and Batloun has played a vital role in the development and capacity building of these communities. The promotion of wild plants was launched through these kitchens primarily in catering events, cooking festivals and widespread media coverage of the project and its principles. On the academic level, the project has been a pool of resources for many. Over thirty research assistants and consultants worked on the project gaining knowledge, experience and financial return. Seven graduate students were attracted to this research that embedded theirs within that of the WEP-DD. Academic exchange with Canada, Sub-Saharan Africa, Yemen, Jordan, and Syria took place, as well as globally through international meetings and conferences. The impact of the project was felt in the country and the region. The communities gained a sense of worth concerning their heritage along with the financial profit from the Healthy Kitchen projects as well as direct employment of several locals by WEP-DD. The research team conducting this multidisciplinary topic has been exposed to various learning opportunities particularly allowing growth in other disciplines
Description: Appendices treated separately
Project Number: 102692
Project Title: Wild Edible Plants : Promoting Dietary Diversity in Poor Communities of Lebanon
Access: Open Access
Copyright: Malek Batal, Shadi Hamadeh, Nahla Hwalla, Nader Kabbani, Salma Talhouk
License: OA Permission License
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