Wikipedia defines neglected and underused (NUS) crops as domesticated plant species that have been used for centuries or even millennia for their nutritional and medicinal properties but have been reduced in importance over time due to unrecognised nutritional value, poor awareness and reputational problems (‘poor people’s food’). These are some underused summer fruits and why you must have them.
- Karvanda: This drought resistant fruit, growing from the Western Ghats to Afghanistan, can save you from a lot of heartache that comes with constipation. Rich in micronutrients, it can strengthen the digestive system and pancreas, making it an effective medicine for diabetes. Folk medicine also celebrates it for its ability to reduce chances of anemia and increasing haemoglobin levels, therefore helping in fertility.
- Tadgola: Sometimes fancily called ice apple, the fruit of the toddy or sugar palm is literally a godsend. The hard exterior protects the fleshy, juicy fruit and you need some serious expertise in opening it without damaging the fruit or your hand. Celebrated as the perfect liver cleanser, this is THE summer detox to look out for. And it helps control blood pressure.
- Jamun: The GOI has fought off attempts to patent it and turn it into medicine as a cure for diabetes, and luckily we can buy it at local markets for a steal. Great to taste, the polyphenols and micro-nutrients will not just keep blood sugars stable but help reduce effects of ageing too.
Cultivated by local farmers, these are the fruits we should be promoting to ward off everything from constipation to BP, anaemia to diabetes. A small but effective step for farmers and local economy.