Scientists in Australia discovered two new species of grass. That may sound unremarkable at first. But then those scientists went and ate the grass (Because I guess that’s a thing that scientists do?). Their findings: The plants tasted like salt and vinegar flavored potato chips!
So how did they stumble upon this bafflingly delicious discovery? The scientists were studying spinifex grasses, spiky plants that grow in humped formations all over the Australian continent (and kind of look like bushy hedgehogs from afar). While observing over 70 species, researchers noticed one that stood out because of tiny dewdrops on its leaves. The glistening dew intrigued them, so they brought some samples back to the lab for further exploration. That’s where the tasting took place.
In an interview with NPR, biologist Benjamin Anderson said, “It wasn’t an intentional like, ‘Let’s lick the grass,” he says. His advisor “touched her hand to her mouth, and she was like, ‘Hey that’s weird.’ That was the first discovery.”
Scientists still haven’t even chemically analyzed the plants and don’t have a full understanding of the the dew’s purpose. Maybe it’s meant to keep herbivores away? Or maybe it’s meant to be eaten by people looking for a healthier alternative to chips? I’m sticking with the latter theory.
While there’s certainly a novelty appeal in eating a plant that tastes like a sour snack, the Triodia scintillans and Triodia Vanleeuwenii species lack any real nutritional value and aren’t generally meant for human consumption. In other words, they’re unlikely to hit supermarket shelves anytime soon. As Anderson notes, “My supervisor was like, ‘Oh yeah, that’s definitely salt and vinegar.’ For me, it was a funky taste,” he says. “It was a neat experience, but it’s not like it made me want to eat it.” If only we could try it for ourselves and be the judge of that.
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