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Safely Eating Cyads

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In Australia, researchers have worked with indigenous people studying how they prepare cycads for eating. Cycads plants are either male or female, the fertilized female cones produce seeds which are collected and processed. Most often the carbohydrate-rich inner kernels are extracted by pounding or crushing the entire seed, either before or after roasting. Then this pulp is made safe by a quick or prolonged leaching in running water. In some cases, the seeds are buried for months which apparently also degrades the toxins. The resulting non-toxic material is used as porridge, dried into cakes, or baked into loaves. Different methods result in foods that can last for a few days or several months. It’s fascinating to consider how across the tropical world, indigenous peoples found ways to render poisonous plants edible; tapioca, from cassava, is one most everyone has eaten.