Aberystwyth academic to discuss new book on Radio 4

21 August 2015

An Aberystwyth academic is set to appear on Radio 4 tomorrow discussing his new book.

Professor Warren is the Director of Learning and Teaching at IBERS was interviewed by the Today programme this week and is set to be broadcast on BBC Radio 4 on Saturday 22 August.

His recently published book, The Nature of Crops – How we came to eat the plants we do explores the reasons why we only eat a tiny 1% of the 40,000 plants available whilst the potential is far greater.

Botanist Professor Warren formerly worked as a cocoa breeder working on the world chocolate bank at the University of the West Indies in Trinidad. He has an academic interest in the sex-life of plants and a recreational interest in all things edible.

Professor Warren said: “Most of the crops we eat have fairly dull sex lives, but that can be really good news as these are easier to cultivate and develop outside their home range. Across many centuries we have selected and domesticated plants for food, often when, in their native form, they are poisonous. For example, wild almonds contain deadly cyanide, and only through trial and error by our ancestors were we able to select and cultivate a non-poisonous almond."

The book which also features his own illustrations takes the reader on a journey through our history with crop plants. Arranged into recurrent themes in plant domestication, it documents the history and biology of over 50 crops, including cereals, spices, legumes, fruit and cash crops such as chocolate, tobacco and rubber.

He added: “This book is dedicated to all the teachers and the plant breeders of the world, who between them feed our minds and bellies. Both these professions are frequently misunderstood and underappreciated. In reality they are overwhelmingly motivated by the altruistic desire to make the world a better place.”

You can listen again to the interviewhere