We’re working our way up the structure of plants, asking if it is natural and ethical to eat them. You can check my past posts for other investigations, starting with animal products, but I feel that even plants have to undergo the tests, to be fair.
People eat flowers. Admittedly, they’re not the classic style of flower that you turn into flower arrangements or grow in your garden but, nonetheless, flowers are popular on our plates. According to Mother Nature Network, we can eat 42 types of flowers.
The most popular varieties are cauliflower and broccoli, while some people add nasturtium, calendula and borage flowers to their salads, make wine out of elder flowers and turn pumpkin flowers into fritters.
So, the question is, is it natural and ethical to eat flowers?
Is it natural?
Can we (human primates, equipped only with our bodies and natural items such as rocks, sticks, soil, fire, etc) gather, prepare and eat flowers. Yes, without a doubt. This is a most natural thing to do, and flowers are palatable raw, so they are even easier food to eat than the roots or stems or even the leaves of some plants.
Is it ethical?
a) Has it suffered the least harm?
As we discussed in this post it’s not clear whether plants feel pain. One criterion we decided on was to avoid killing the plant, as this would cause the most harm. Plucking leaves off is acceptable, providing the plant has enough to continue growing. In fact, many plants grow in a way that they regenerate quickly and seem to be designed to be browsed on.
So, in terms of whether the plant suffers harm, eating flowers is less harmful than eating the roots, which may necessitate killing the plant. But, what about regeneration? Obviously, flowers are necessary to ensure the development of seed, so that the plant species survives.
The way it looks is that the least harmful way of eating flowers is to ensure that only a few flowers from each plant are harvested. This is not too difficult to do in a home-grown garden. If you cut flowers off a broccoli plant, it simply grows new ones until seed has set, and then it stops. Commercial operations rip up the whole plant to harvest the head.
Or, you can leave some of your plants to seed, as most plants develop huge quantities of seed.
b) Has it had the best life possible?
Here I will repeat what I said in the post about eating roots:
Plants that live naturally without being poisoned by pesticides, fungicides and artificial fertilizers should be living the best life possible. Bose found that “administering poisons to tin, zinc, and platinum, and obtained astonishing responses which, when plotted on a graph, appeared precisely like those of poisoned animals.”
c) Is this food good for us?
Yes, edible flowers are good for us. Some believe that broccoli is the world’s healthiest food. It can lower cholesterol, is great for detoxing, it’s full of vitamins A and K which help maintain out vitamin D balance and, because it’s a rich source of kaempferol, it acts as an anti-inflammatory. It’s also high in vitamin C, chromium and folate as well as a huge range of other vitamins and minerals.
Final verdict – my opinion:
Flowers are good for you. Eating them is natural and ethical, providing you make sure enough plants bear seed, allowing the species to survive and thrive.
What do you think?
Next post: seeds