The Ecology of Humans (51) Seeds


God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the Earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They are yours for food.” ~ Genesis 1:29, The Bible

A seed is the reproductive embryo of a plant. Many seeds come from fruits that naturally free themselves from their shell. Other seeds stay attached to the fruit. Such seeds are designed to withstand digestion and pass out of an herbivore’s system with a dollop of fertilizer.

A nut is defined botanically as a fruit with a hard shell and seed. Culinary usage is less restrictive: a nut is any edible kernel in a shell. While almonds, Brazil nuts, pecans, pistachios, and walnuts are not nuts under the botanical definition, they are generally considered so.

Seeds have been on the menu since apes headed down the hominid path. Yet, oddly, nuts remain among the most common food allergen.

Seeds – especially nuts – are satisfying for their healthy fat content. They are also rich in proteins and vitamins; everything a plant needs to start life.

While seeds of all sorts comprise the bulk of most human diets, an even healthier regime is higher in fruits and vegetables: more carbohydrates and less protein and fats.

Grains are the seeds from grass plants. Edible grains are called cereal.

A caryopsis is a dry fruit attached to a seed. Wheat, rice, and corn are caryopses.

Grains were among the first plants cultivated, some 12,000 years ago in the Fertile Crescent.

Legumes are a family of flowering plants with numerous edible seeds, commonly called beans, peas, and lentils. Legumes are botanically notable for their symbiotic relationships with nitrogen-fixing bacteria.

The term pulse is used for legumes that are harvested for their dry seed. Dried beans, peas, lentils, and peanuts are pulses.