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Published on December 19th, 2014 | by Guest Contributor


Can Daikon Save the Planet? How this Vegetable can Help Conservation & Farming

My partner and I recently joined a CSA and while we’re generally stoked on the foods we’ve been getting, daikon seems to show up often and we’ve been a bit perplexed as to how to cook it (check out some great recipes below!). But more interesting than the spicy, biting flavor is the fact that this radish can have an awesome impact on our planet too!

daikon round

In this article from TakePart, the author explains that due to some unique radish characteristics, this plant is improving soils and has the potential to make a positive impact on farms and ecosystems across the world.

Daikon radish, so very different in size from the cute red ones you might be accustomed to seeing at farmer’s markets, are often huge- sometimes two to three feet and four inches around. Having worked on an organic farm, I know that it takes some serious effort to harvest all three feet of radish in one go! It’s this huge size and inherent vegetable powers that are helping to save soils. Author says:

“From Maryland to Ohio to Iowa, farmers and scientists are taking a closer look at this vegetable’s ability to keep nutrients like calcium, phosphorus, nitrogen and sulfur in the soil where they’re valuable, and out of streams, rivers and bays where they become pollutants. The radish roots can grow as big as an arm or leg, with smaller roots that delve seven feet or more and help keep topsoil in place, which prevents nitrogen from leeching into waterways. When winter arrives, the radish dies off leaving large holes on the soil’s surface which hold water in the field.”

The radishes have super strong roots that can break though tough soils and reach deep into the ground. These radishes are not being grown to be eaten but as a cover crop to help in many ways. Cover crops are a type of crops planted not necessarily for harvest, but for the benefits that they provide for the soil. Popular cover crops include sunhemp, clover and now, daikon! There is a lot of evidence that cover cropping can improve soil health, reduce water usage and improve the local ecosystem, although it’s not a widely used farming method. In fact, a National Wildlife Federation report shows that cover crops are very promising to improve local ecosystems, but because farmers are not encouraged to make use of them, only about 1% of cropland uses cover crops.

So not only is daikon super healthy for the planet: it’s hydrating, it’s cancer-fighting, and it’s good for digestion! Here are some cool recipes to get you started with your gigantic daikon radish.

  1. Carrot and Daikon Salad: an easy raw side that mellows the radish considerably
  2. Pickled Daikon: crunchy and delightful; when I made mine I skipped the sugar and it was still awesome!
  3. Daikon Kimchi: add daikon to this homemade kimchi shredded or cubed, or substitute the cabbage for an-all daikon kimchi!
  4. Roasted Root Veggie Medley: a perfect autumn dish
  5. Bahn Mi Bowl: a deconstructed take on the classic Vietnamese sandwich
  6. It can also be juiced and blended into smoothies, but… maybe you need to work up to that.

Read the original article here: Can Radishes Be the Secret Weapon in Protecting Our Water From Big Farming’s Runoff?

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