Growing wheat, rice and other cereals is very labor-intensive. Wheat has very small edible mass compared to the other tissues. Wheat is very weather-dependent.

Why were other cultures not used instead?

For instance, dandelions are abundant everywhere, do not require any labor, grow well in all weather and all their parts are edible.

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  • Interesting....+1 – user12387 May 20 '15 at 16:14
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    Ever tried to eat dandilions? They're really only edible in the spring, before they flower (dandilion greens), otherwise they're very bitter. – jamesqf May 20 '15 at 19:05
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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because the question is both too broad and primarily opinion based. It asks for a hypothetical speculative comparison stripped of any historical content. – Samuel Russell May 20 '15 at 21:49
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    If this is not the historical question, then I must say this history site will be full of crackpots who are only concerned with too specific issues. History of major diet, why not??? – user12387 May 21 '15 at 8:46
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    Only what the questioners should have asked is not the comparison with dandelion, but rather with rice, potatoes, corns etc. – user12387 May 21 '15 at 8:49

About the particular example: Wheat and other grains have high nutrition value and dandelions not. You need to eat several kilo of dandelion to cover your basic calorie needs. 40Cal/100g, that is 400Cal /kg. You need to eat 5 kg if you are an office worker sitting all the day. But most probably you would be pretty sick in the first day if you can finish that, and you wouldn't be able to digest even that amount of calory due to the enormous amount of fiber it has in it.

Also, dandelion do not grow everywhere, hard to collect, even harder to store. Most leafy veggies are originally poisonous, and needed domestication + cooking to make them edible. Wheat, corn etc are practically grass. Saying that dandelion is more common than grass is kind of arguable.

All agricultural society based on domestication of grains and starchy roots/vegetables. Corn, potato, rice, wheat, malt etc. For the simple reason people needed calorie and protein. Dandelion has neither. Those people were not looking for loosing weight fast or something healthy and hipster to eat with their pizza. They were looking for survival.

  • Have you counted raw dandelions or dried up and have you taken into account its roots? – Anixx May 20 '15 at 8:44
  • All nutrition data is on raw dandelion leaf. I couldn't find data on root with Google. Please, include some link if you find anything. – Greg May 20 '15 at 8:53
  • Dandelion root appears to be about 3.4 Kcal/gram – Conrad Turner May 20 '15 at 14:15
  • @ConradTurner Any reference? – Greg May 21 '15 at 8:39
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    According to USDA Handbook #8, and every decent source on vegetarian nutrition, the primary virtue of grains is that they contain high amounts of protein, though not complete protein. Dandelions contain none, and I personally question whether a human digestion system can get anywhere near the test-tube nutrition listed. Our relatively short intestines are not well-built for getting everything out of coarse greenery, unlike a gorilla intestine. – Zither13 May 25 '15 at 13:51

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