Yesterday I discovered intercropping.
Intercropping is when two or more crops are planted in close proximity in order to increase the yield of the land. Early crops could be planted with late crops, tall plants paired with short, more heat sensitive, and so on.
Corn, pole beans and squash are examples of classic Native American intercropping. There is a science to intercropping that is beyond me and honestly it’s a very interesting solution to multiple dilemmas.
What I learned was that intercropping may add a dimension to food allergies and food ingredient disclosures that I had never considered…
Cross contamination and cross contact potential.
For example hibiscus is often intercropped with peanuts. Yup, peanuts.
A quick Amazon and Google search showed that some brands/manufacturers were very upfront (in the safety section) about the intercropping and potential risk for peanuts and/or peanut shells to be found in the product while other did not address the issue at all.
The question then becomes: Do the manufacturers of products containing hibiscus know of the intercropping and potential peanut addition to their products? And from that question I leap to: What other plants are intercropped on a large-scale and have cross contamination potential? Is there a system in place detailing the path our food follows (seed to specifics of planting such as intercropping and so on)? Should there be if not?
I have contacted the agricultural department director and professor of plant and soil sciences at a large university with questions. Once I get more information on the potential for cross contamination at harvest, I will edit this post.
What I do know for sure is that, for now, my peanut allergic son will be taught to avoid hibiscus and hibiscus containing products.