Imagine a world where people aren’t fighting invasive plants with herbicides, but rather eating those plants to improve their health and the health of Mother Earth. Peter Becker of Wiesbaden, Germany is passionate about bringing that vision to reality. He is the founder of NewTritionInk and Knotty Foods. After disgust that Japanese Knotweed (Polygonum cuspidatum) was being so heavily doused with herbicides, he created a beautiful business plan to market food products made with this delicious wild food plant (his relish is pictured above). Although he doesn’t want to see the plant eradicated, he does plan to use profits from his Knotty Foods products to fund the removal of this invasive in Nature Reserves and Parks, where it crowds out native species.
Peter’s Bionic Knotweed Control Project has been declared a 3-year pilot project by the city authorities in Wiesbaden, as well as the Hessian State Department. He works to educate his community about controlling the plant through eating it, working with local school systems, health food stores, restaurants and recently set up a footpath where 100 wild food plants are identified. Peter hopes to take this model to the over 20 countries that aggressively spray herbicides on the plant. Hundreds of thousands of tons of Japanese Knotweed could be harvested in those countries and Peter says, “We are weakening our economies by wasting these local resources.”
The photo above shows Peter at last years Japanese Knotweed harvest. When I asked Peter why he has chosen this path he said, “In part to furnish my chemical evolution. If we are what we eat, why not become what we could be.” He shares this evolution into the future of food with his wife and two children, and feels good to set an example for his children by doing what he loves. “Your work is not just making rent, but your lever to change the world.”
Japanese Knotweed (Polygonum cuspidatum) was introduced in the US in the late 1800’s as an ornamental. It is now found in almost every state, but is mainly concentrated on the east coast. It has the highest natural concentration of the antioxidant resveratrol. Peter semi-cultivates his plants by removing its young leaves and thereby causing the plant to produce more resveratrol. It has been touted as an anti-cancer, anti-cholesterol, weight-controlling, blood pressure and blood sugar-normalizing agent that extends life. Consider marketing wild food products made from invasive plants in your area. Click here to visit the US Small Business Administration, which offers programs, services and advice for starting your own small business.
Photos courtesty Peter Becker.