The lousy summer and indifferent autumn do not seem to have bothered the mashua one jot. The haul of tubers is just as large as in previous, less challenging seasons. Clearly mashua likes a cool maritime climate. So it's a crop with definite potential, apart from the small matter of one thing which tends to get overlooked in the excitement of armfuls of tubers: its taste. In order to get some idea of the opinion of others, I've set up a short questionnaire; I invite everyone who has placed mashua in their mouths to make their feelings known regarding its suitability as a food. Like the infamous yeast extract paste that some people smear all over their toast, mashua seems to evoke strong reactions. Where do you stand on this issue?
I'm a botanist and horticulturist with a longstanding interest in edible and useful plants. I founded an alternative seed company called Future Foods and I also worked in the Heritage Seed Library at Ryton Gardens, HDRA, growing heirloom vegetables for distribution to the members. I'm currently engaged in weed research. The theory is I'll get a PhD out of it. I'm the only person I know who has tried to grow Japanese knotweed and failed.
Other interests include walking, cycling, music and natural history.