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Today is World Food Day, a day of action against hunger. Today people around the world come together to declare their commitment to eradicate hunger in our lifetime. Because when it comes to hunger, the only acceptable number in the world is zero.

So it seems right that botanists are in the news at the moment, and not just because of that botanist in The Martian growing potatoes. The Daily Plant points out that the 2015 Nobel Prize highlights importance of botanical chemistry, mentioning an intriguing book with the title “Emergency Prescriptions Kept Up One’s Sleeve” and reminding us that many medicines have their roots in botany.

In Tendrils a couple of weeks ago, we saw how the conflict in Syria has prompted the first withdrawal of seeds from the Svalbard ‘doomsday’ bank. This week, Atlas Obscura explores the turbulent history of seed banks, and the botanist heroes protecting the seeds, in From WWII to Syria, How Seed Vaults Weather Wars.

A lighter look at the benefits of maintaining crop diversity comes from Modern Farmer, who are looking into 7 Fruits That Look Like One Thing, But Taste Like Another, which sounds like it could become a game show on Radio 4 🙂

The latest offering from the Botanist in the Kitchen is the usual entertaining scientific romp through culinary crops. Triple threat watermelon has a lot about plant genetics, but is essentially about watermelon contraception – and who wouldn’t want to read about that? I think it finishes up by saying that producing a seedless watermelon is actually harder work for bees though, and that sounds like a bad thing. Or maybe it isn’t, and it’s just a sign of happy, hardworking bees. I don’t know.

There seems to be a bit of a Middle Eastern theme to tendrils this week, as I was sent on a bit of a jaunt around the internet by a post on My Persian Feast on Persian cress. A new plant to me, it sounds a little bit like rocket, with a fiery bite but less toothed leaves. The author suggests you can’t buy it here, but actually it seems to be available in Waitrose from Steve’s Leaves. There was an article on the trend towards more exotic salad leaves in the Independent last year, which has a nice-looking recipe for a Persian cress pesto and vegetable salad. The internet seems to suggest that this is simply a different variant of cress, Lepidium sativum, and seeds are available from Nicky’s Nursery and MoreVeg, and no doubt other places as well. Have you grown it?

Carrying on with Middle Eastern ingredients, 500 tasty sandwiches have been looking at sumac, which I was thrilled to learn is called qualoga in the Cherokee language.

If you’d like to be harvesting your own, homegrown, saffron next year, then summer is the time to order corms for planting. I use Suttons for mine, and they can email you when the corms are back in stock.

How about you – have you found anything interesting to read this week? If so, do share the link in the comments 🙂