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Food and nutrition bulletin

Assessing the potential of wild foods to reduce the cost of a nutritionally adequate diet: an example from eastern Baringo District, Kenya.


PMID 25639131

Abstract

Wild foods and their actual and potential contributions to nutrition security have rarely been studied or considered in nutrition and conservation programs. To study the role of wild food biodiversity in achieving a cost reduction of a nutritionally adequate diet for women and young children in Kenya using linear programming. An ethnobiological inventory of available food biodiversity was carried out by means of focus group discussions, and five wild foods were selected for further modeling. A market survey assessed available food prices by season. Diets were modeled to minimize cost and maximize nutrient adequacy using the Cost of Diet linear programming tool. Modeling was done without and with wild foods. The modeled diets without wild species were deficient in iron for all age groups during the dry season, deficient in vitamin B6 and calcium for infants aged 6 to 8 months during the dry season, and deficient in iron and zinc for infants aged 6 to 8 months over the whole year. Adding wild foods, especially Berchemia discolor, to the modeled diets resulted in a lower-cost diet, while meeting recommended iron intakes for women and children between 12 and 23 months of age. Even after integrating wild foods into the model, targeted approaches are needed to meet micronutrient requirements for infants from 6 to 8 and from 9 to 11 months of age. An application of linear programming to screen available wild foods for meeting recommended nutrient intakes at a minimal cost was illustrated. This type of study helps to objectively assess the potential of biodiversity to contribute to diets and nutrition.

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