Why Our Favorite Crops Live Fast and Die Young

This video was sponsored by Tab for a Cause. Hi, this is Emily from MinuteEarth. Most of our crops die every year. And it’s not just because we eat them – it’s
because dying every year is what the plants we grow for crops tend to do. And that’s weird, because most of the plants
in the wild live for more than a year – and sometimes way more! In theory, if we farmed these long-lived perennial
plants instead of the annuals, we wouldn’t have to re-seed our fields every single year,
and our lives would be easier. And we do grow some perennials, but we mostly
stick with annuals, because their strategy in life is to grow up as fast as possible
so that they can make the seeds of the next generation – or, in the case of wheat, corn,
rice, and a few of other crops, the seeds that make up the majority of the human diet. Perennials, on the other hand, take the time
they need to grow up strong and build big root systems that help them survive longer-term,
which means they aren’t really in a rush to reproduce. So any animal waiting around for a perennial
to pump out some seeds to snack on might end up waiting a long time. In the wild, the perennial’s strategy usually
wins out, because once perennial plants lock down some real estate, they can keep it locked
down, which leaves little space for shorter-lived plants to sprout. So in general, it takes an event like fire
to clear the field for annuals and allow them to take over. But because we humans have grown such an appetite
for annuals’ abundant seeds, we’re willing to step in and do a lot of that field-clearing,
helping these short-lived plants crop up in places they never would have on their own,
all across our planet. This video was sponsored by Tab for a Cause,
a free browser extension that donates a fraction of a penny to charity every time a user simply
opens a new tab. Those penny parts add up: Tab for a Cause
has already raised almost a half a million dollars for charities like Water.org and The
Foundation to Decrease Worldsuck. Plus, Tab for a Cause just updated its extension,
with faster page loads and even more backgrounds. If you aren’t Tabbing for a Cause yet, join
us: click the link in the description to download Tab for a Cause now.

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