Locavorious is branching out to start preserving a new locally grown vegetable: bamboo. Bamboos are perennial evergreens in the grass family Poaceae, most of which are edible. Primarily harvested for wood, bamboos are some of the fastest growing plants in the world. In the US there are 3 native varieties, but unfortunately those have been nearly wiped out. Invasive varieties of bamboo thrive in many different climates, including Michigan’s, sometimes taking over native plant habitats. Local forestry management experts and farmers have come to the same conclusion – let’s eat it!
A traditional forest vegetable in China for more than 2,500 years, bamboo shoots are not only delicious but are also rich in nutrients. In Japan, bamboo is called the “King of Forest Vegetables.” In Michigan, a recently formed organic grower’s co-operative called BambooSold will begin marketing not just bamboo shoots, but also the edible leaves and stems. BambooSold’s marketing director Ima Yoker predicts rapid growth of this product. Tim Buhr, a BambooSold grower, was quoted in Michigan Farm News, “If bamboo leaves and stems are the primary food source for the Giant Pandas of China, they must be pretty nutritious for us Michiganders too.”
In fact, Mr. Buhr is correct. Nutrients in bamboo include protein, amino acids, healthy fats, sugar, fiber and mineral salts. The shoots are rich in protein, containing an average of 2.65 g of protein per 100 g serving. When you include the leaves and stems, the soluble fiber shoots through the roof, to 98 g per 100 g serving. A regular superfood!
Locavorious’ interest in bamboo stems from local consumer interest in organic, healthy and invasive vegetables. We also love the win-win-win for the environment, MI growers and local food eaters. Plus given how well bamboo is preserved by freezing, Locavorious would be foolish not preserve this locally grown, healthy and delicious food!