World Foods – Cassava

Cassava (Manihot esculenta), also called maniocyucabalinghoymogomandiocakamoteng kahoy, and manioc root, a woody shrub of the Euphorbiaceae (spurge family) native to South America, is extensively cultivated as an annual crop in tropicaland subtropical regions for its edible starchytuberous root, a major source of carbohydrates. It differs from the similarly spelled yucca, an unrelated fruit-bearing shrub in the Asparagaceae family. Cassava, when dried to a starchy, powdery (or pearly) extract is called tapioca; its fermented, flaky version is named garri.

Cassava is the third-largest source of food carbohydrates in the world.[1][2] Cassava is a major staple food in the developing world, providing a basic diet for over half a billion people.[3] It is one of the most drought-tolerant crops, capable of growing on marginal soils. Nigeria is the world’s largest producer of cassava.

Cassava root is a good source of carbohydrates, but a poor source of protein. A predominantly cassava root diet can cause protein-energy malnutrition.[4]

Cassava is classified as sweet or bitter. Like other roots and tubers, cassava contains antinutritional factors and toxins.[5] It must be properly prepared before consumption. Improper preparation of cassava can leave enough residual cyanide to cause acute cyanide intoxication and goiters, and may even cause ataxia or partial paralysis.[6] Nevertheless, farmers often prefer the bitter varieties because they deter pests, animals, and thieves.[7] The more-toxic varieties of cassava are a fall-back resource (a “food security crop”) in times of famine in some places.[8]

2 thoughts on “World Foods – Cassava

  1. Pingback: Manihot esculenta | Find Me A Cure

  2. Pingback: Cassava’s huge potential as 21st Century crop | Allana Potash Blog

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