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Edible Cottonseed

Cotton and cotton seeds photo credit: Gonzalez's tongue, Flickr (click to see photo in it's original context)

Cotton and cotton seeds photo credit: Gonzalez's tongue, Flickr (click to see photo in it's original context)

Over 102 million bales of cotton (more than 24 million tons of cotton) were grown around the world last year. I wouldn’t surprise me to hear cotton called the single most important (and widely cultivated) food crop on the face of the planet. But does it have to be a non-food crop?

Clearly no one (nor any livestock) wants to eat the cotton fibers themselves, but they aren’t the only product of the plant. After to cotton plant flowers, the cotton fibers grow around the developing seeds. The combined mixture is harvested each year, after which the seeds are removed from the cotton fibers before the cotton is baled and sold.*

The seeds of the cotton plant are full of protein and oils and since cotton is already grown as a source of fiber (and the seeds are even harvested and sorted out of the cotton fibers already) adding them to the food supply** doesn’t require any further land to be cultivated or increased input costs. Obviously there is a catch… (more…)