“Calorie crops” are agricultural crops devoted to serving the caloric needs of the population within a foodshed. Every human has basic energy needs to sustain daily activity, and crops suited to these needs and cultivated worldwide include many in the grass family (corn, wheat, sugar cane, rice, barley, etc.) and the legume family (black beans, garbanzos, fava beans, lima beans, snow peas, kidney beans, and of course, soybeans). Calorie crops might also include those that are fed to animals to sustain the production of animal meat and milk, which includes many of those mentioned such as corn and soy when we are talking about the U.S. poultry and cattle industries.
A great variety of calorie crops are grown today, hailing from many different biological families and all corners of the world. Head to your local farmer’s market and you might find anything from purple potatoes to exotic varieties of almonds, buckwheat, and water chestnuts. Conserving and celebrating our diverse food heritage is a great way of enjoying biodiversity while building your local green economy one step at a time!
We use a method of biointensive planting, rather than row planting, to maximize what we can grow in a small space. One of the ways of doing this is calorie farming, where the idea is to grow enough food energy and nutrients to live on, in a minimal area. These crops have both a high calorie content per pound (potatoes, sweet potatoes, garlic, leeks). The type of crops I’m referring to are an example of those grown for your family or small villages, not giant corn or soy crops for animals or use as high fructose corn syrup.
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