Farming: King Kudzu?

King Kudzu?

Ever since the Japanese introduced the kudzu vine to America at the 1876 Philadelphia Centennial Exposition, the broad-leafed creeper has been a much maligned nuisance. Like some omnivorous green space monster, the irrepressible plant has spread across the Southeast, smothering everything from telephone poles to abandoned cars.

But what U.S. farmers denounce as a scourge, the Japanese have long prized as a source of nutrition: Japan consumes 1,500 tons of kudzu starch yearly as an ingredient in gourmet foods, beverages and herbal medicines. Now, attracted by the suitable land and climate in the South, the Japanese food-processing giant Sakae Bio has...

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