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Weeds Growing in Poor City Areas More Nutritious Than Store-Bought Produce

Despite the odds, nature does her best to nurture us. Researchers from the University of California, Berkeley, have reported finding nutritious wild greens growing abundantly in poor urban areas of San Francisco, even surviving record droughts.

The researchers, led by Philip Stark, collected the edible wild greens from three areas, each equivalent to nine city blocks, in disadvantaged neighbourhoods surrounded by busy roads and industrial zones. The areas, classified as “urban food deserts”, are more than one to one-and-a-half kilometres from the nearest shop that sells fresh produce.

Six different species were tested for nutrition content: chickweed (Stellaria media), dandelion (Taraxacum officinale), dock (Rumex crispus), mallow (Malva sylvestris), nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus) and oxalis (Oxalis pescaprae). All compared favourably to kale – arguably one of the most nutritious domesticated greens – for several nutrients. 

The wild greens boasted more dietary fibre, protein, vitamin A, sodium, calcium, iron and vitamin K, and provided more energy.

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