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Home > Student Gazette > Sustainable Development

Renewable Energy

Jerusalem Artichokes

Bailey , David , Phil , Sophia

20 May 2010

Renewable energy is something that is very important to our earth right now. Jerusalem artichokes, (otherwise known as sunchokes), are a vegetable most people have probably never heard of. These special types of artichokes are helping save our earth. Scientists have discovered that the world is going to run out of oil one day. Scientists all over the world are trying to find alternative fuels to oil and have found some. One is Jerusalem artichokes.

Jerusalem artichokes are very unusual vegetables. Some say the plant looks like a ginger root. Something interesting about the artichoke is that it is in fact not an artichoke. It is actually part of the sunflower family. You might also be wondering how it got the name "Jerusalem artichoke". Nobody knows how this "artichoke" got its name, but someone must have called it Jerusalem artichoke and the name stuck.

Jerusalem artichokes are very useful. They can be used as an alternative to corn for making fuel. Engineers have recently started making ethanol, fuel for cars, out of corn because of the whole oil crisis. However, because corn is on most families dinner table, using it as fuel makes the cost of corn to go up, due to the economic law of supply and demand. This is bad for family farms that don’t have a lot of money. However, since Jerusalem artichokes aren’t exactly the most popular vegetable, it is better to use them to make ethanol rather than corn.

Agricultural scientists have made very big advancements in agricultural sciences. Not only can engineers turn Jerusalem artichokes and corn into fuel, engineers can turn other farm crops into fuel, too! For instance, engineers can turn these crops into fuel: sugar cane, sugar beets, sweet sorghum, fodder beets, fruit crops, (grapes, apricots, peaches and pears) wheat, barley, potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn stover, wheat straw, alfalfa, Sudan grass and forage sorghum. It’s really good for planet earth, to make alternatives to the natural resource of petroleum, (oil) that the earth will soon run out of.

Now you’re probably thinking that’s really fascinating that scientists can turn all those farm crops into ethanol, but how do those scientists do it? Sugar juices from the stalk first must be removed before the juice moves down the tuber. Then the scientists directly ferment the sugar to produce the ethanol. This method uses the whole artichoke, making it the least costly, least complicated and most energy efficient process.

Jerusalem artichokes are not only useful, they are also renewable. One can keep growing them for more and more fuel. Since people can keep the Jerusalem artichoke seeds, the Earth will never run out of these seeds.

As you can see, Jerusalem artichokes are very useful vegetables. By making alcohol fuel out of not only Jerusalem artichokes but also other farm crops, we are helping save our planet. Renewable energy is important for us to use because we are running out of natural resources.


"The Jerusalem Artichoke Caper." Vegetarians in Paradise. On the Highest Perch. Last updated 2010

"Growing Jerusalem Artichokes." NC State University. Horticulture information. Last updated January, 1999

"Jerusalem Artichoke." Alternative Field Crops Manual. Last updated January 11th, 2000