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Is it possible to grow some type of plant that functions well as a lawn (e.g. is somewhat grass like), but that is humanly edible? Would anything that currently exists fit this role? For example possibly spinach or lettuce might work somewhat, but probably wouldn't be ideal. If not, could we bioengineer something to fit that role? I am thinking if we can, this could solve world hunger!

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    $\begingroup$ It's a bit off-topic for biology, but there are a lot of economic problems with distribution rather than scarcity of food. In many places where hunger is a problem, it is more profitable to sell cash crops to developed countries or to use crops as animal feed than to sell to impoverished neighbors. Grasses are probably as good as anything to grow in a lawn, if those grasses were fed to animals to free up other space for people. That isn't really the problem, though. $\endgroup$ – Bryan Krause May 17 '17 at 21:53
  • $\begingroup$ @Brian Krause as far as the distribution problem goes, I wonder if this could be grown anywhere in the world? Different plants would probably be required in different environments. Even in deserts, cacti can grow, but they would not make for a good lawn unless significantly bioengineered. $\endgroup$ – Jonathan May 18 '17 at 1:29
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    $\begingroup$ Just a curiosity: in some languages, like mine, there is no distinction between lawn and grass (we say "I'll mow the grass" instead of "I'll mow the lawn". Thus, defining grasses as all plants from Family Poaceae, the most important edible crops are grasses/lawns: wheat, rice, maize, sugarcane, barley, oats, rye... of course, a lawn made of wheat or maize is not exactly aesthetically pleasing. $\endgroup$ – user24284 May 18 '17 at 2:09
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    $\begingroup$ Green leafy vegetables tend not to have much in the way of usable calories, so spinach and lettuce wouldn't work, However I think what you are going for is rice... it is the seed of a type of grass and is a staple in much of the world's diets. Now if I can toss my opinion in here, we would be even better off if we stopped fearing GMOs, as we could grow rice that had more nutritive value, such as golden rice, or strains of rice that required far less water to cultivate. $\endgroup$ – AMR May 18 '17 at 4:21
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    $\begingroup$ @Bryan Krause: Also hunger tends to be a localized, sporadic thing, often caused by drought or other unusual weather. That would affect the edible lawn as severely as the field crops. Also most people with lawns and a disinclination to use large amounts of herbicides seem to have a pretty good crop of dandelions, which are edible. $\endgroup$ – jamesqf May 18 '17 at 4:46
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There are lots of things that you can eat that you could grow as a lawn. That probably are growing in your lawn now. My yard is about half violets and they are edible. Purslane is a delicious succulent lawn weed. Grab some, rinse it off and eat it. It is crunchy! I am telling you from experience you can eat a lot of it and you will not get sick.

enter image description here Purslane image from here. http://www.livescience.com/15322-healthiest-backyard-weeds.html

This backyard weeds link says lambs quarters are edible and I did not know that. They are also volunteers but I did not know they were good for anything and so I was pulling them up.

We are surrounded by things we could eat and which our ancestors ate all the time but which we do not eat. If you are in school, Johnathan, and this sort of thing interests you it would be a stellar project. You have all summer to grow weeds in pots and then at the science fair you could have people taste them.

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  • $\begingroup$ Very nice! Looks like there are several good candidates here and that such a thing might be feasible, thank you for your answer! $\endgroup$ – Jonathan May 18 '17 at 1:36

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