Cover Crop Cuisine


Cover crop-recipe development reflecting Indian cotton industry

In December 2017 The Center for Genomic Gastronomy performed a Planetary Sculpture Picnic as part of the Serendipity Art's festival in Goa. This picnic was a walking tour with four stops and a few snacks and stories from the past, present, and future.

Planetary Sculpture refers to the different ways in which humans have sculpted the planet through food choices. In this Planetary Sculpture Picnic tour visitors experienced concepts and flavours for eating in a new way, one which not only minimises our impact on the planet, but actively attempts to heal it.

My contribution to the project was to develop a recipe for one of the four stops, examining the value of cover crops: Cover crop crackers with cowpea and mustard greens hummus, miso pickled mustard seeds and honey roasted cowpeas.


Cover crops are “noneconomic” plants that are grown to suppress weeds, fix nitrogen, control pest and diseases and replenish the soil. Typically these crops are not eaten by humans, they are planted just for the benefit of other plants. Our question is, if humans integrated more of these plants into our diets, could this help to restore our planet and prevent future damage? Industrial farming practices have managed to create a huge margin of output; however, these systems are not sustainable.

We’re interested in cover crops as a way to get back to a more harmonious and symbiotic relationship with the earth we farm. By growing beans, grasses, brassicas and more we can fix nitrogen back in the soil, and minimise the amount of pesticides and herbicides involved.

– The Center for Genomic Gastronomy

When developing ideas for the picnic dish, I decided to focus on cotton, a major export of India. It takes a harsh toll on farmland and doesn’t produce food. What if our plates reflected the potential market for culinary cover crops that not only restore the land damaged by cotton production, but also feed people?

Guests were encouraged to imagine how our agriculture could be not only harmless but also restorative. What could a future of planetary healing possibly look like?