The ideas that gave birth to Crops For Health® program emerged from several resources as outlined below.
- A number of recent large epidemiological studies have drawn into question the relative importance of plant food consumption in chronic disease prevention. We have dubbed the controversy created by these reports the plant food-disease prevention conundrum. In response to this conundrum, we formulated the working hypothesis that negative findings are due in part to the dissimilarities in the varieties of the same crop to which different populations around the world have access. Stated differently, we hypothesize that all varieties of a food crop are not created equal in their disease prevention attributes. CFH investigators seek to identify crop cultivars with disease prevention traits so that they can be understood genetically and chemically. This knowledge would then be used to improve the disease prevention attributes of the world’s food supply.
- The best advice available regarding nutrition and health is to have a lot of variety in the diet and to eat in moderation. This advice prompts the question of how best to define and measure “variety”. For plants foods, the CFH hypothesis is that defining variety by botanical family will result in the consumption of the most beneficial mixture of bioactive food components. Defining the chemical nature of this mixture is one of the initiatives that led to the concepts underlying Crops for Health®.
- Efforts to investigate topics related to the first two points revealed a surprising communications gap between those disciplines within agricultural sciences that bring food to the global table and the disciplines within biomedical and allied health sciences that focus on health promotion and disease prevention. This situation is ironic when it is recognized that great strides are being made in understanding of cellular processes and molecular mechanisms that account for life through comparative trans-organismal research spanning microbes, plants and animals. The road to bridge this communications gap is the cross disciplinary initiative that we have named Crops For Health® and the goal of this initiative is to create an environment in which the discovery process will lead to the innovations in crop improvement and disease prevention needed to reduce morbidity and mortality from chronic diseases on a global scale.