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Biology 2 (plant and society) - Essay Example

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Biology 2(Plant and Society): Question 1 Name: Institution: Starch production is a food processing that uses starch as a raw material. Sources of starch include maize, potatoes, wheat, rice and sago palm. Starch can be converted through various processes into diverse products as pharmaceuticals, adhesives, paper and textiles (Elevitch, 2006)…
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Download file to see previous pages Sago palm flowers after 12-15 years and rarely produces fertile seeds. Vegetative propagation takes a long time and involves a lengthy process. Therefore, it is unreliable in meeting the dietary needs of the worlds growing population. Traditional agriculture is seasonal and ensures that sources of starch are planted and harvested all seasons. In this regard, starch requirement can be met by traditional means of agriculture (Wickens, 2001). This does not make the extraction of starch from sago palm an easier alternative to traditional agriculture. Sago palm flourishes in wet conditions. Fresh water swamps are the natural habitat for the plant. In dry conditions, the plant would not do well. Some of the world’s populations live in arid or semi arid conditions. Therefore, if sago palm was to be their primary source of starch, people would experience starch deficiencies. Traditional sources of starch such as sorghum do well in dry conditions. These plants rich in starch but are not cultivated in such areas could be produced by irrigation and made available through trade (Elevitch, 2006). It would be difficult to argue that producing starch from sago palm is an easy task. The process of obtaining starch is tasking and challenging. Chopping down the plant is dangerous because the plant has thorns that are almost one inch in length. Starch is obtained from the pith. Scraping the plant is an energy consuming task and starch can only be obtained through the use hand- made tools. This makes the task even harder. It is then soaked to separate the starch from the non-starch part of the pith. The Salient parts are then dried and carried using bags. Men only chop down the tree, whereas women process the plant to produce the end product. This raises the question of gender inequality. It would be unfair to let women do difficult chores, yet they are fending for the same families. Traditional agriculture ensured that both men and women participated in the production process of food. The work done did not favor one gender over the other. The amount of energy employed in producing sago starch is intensive. It could be used in other economic activities. Traditional agriculture ensured an even distribution of energy. This ensured that tasks were lighter and time conscious. This ensured that other economic activities did not stall (Elevitch, 2006). The means of cooking the sago starch prove to be also hectic. The starch powder is mixed with water to make a sticky dough It is pushed into a single section of a green bamboo. When the freshly cut green bamboo is almost full it is covered with green leaves. This means off cooking is not friendly to the environment. Needless to say, it involves cutting down of bamboo plants, which is a form of deforestation. Cooked sago starch has no taste hence its palatability comes into question. Majority of the world population would not enjoy this meal. This would prove it inappropriate as a reliable source of starch. Traditional agriculture produced meals that are easy to prepare and are palatable (Brown, 2007). Sago palm starch is almost a pure carbohydrate. It contains little traces of proteins, minerals and vitamins. It would not be an ideal source of nutrients. Other sources of starch also supply human beings with other nutritional value. For example, maize contains proteins, fatty acids, minerals, vitamins and dietary fiber. It makes up ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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