Module 1: Plants & Nutrition

Ms Lucie Benoit

Ms Lucie Benoit

Msc. Ecological Engineering & Biodiversity Management, Professional Ethnobotanist.

Lucie  Benoit is a trained ethnobotanist, as well as a professional wild edible plants’ harvester and consultant. She has extensive experience in plants taxonomy and human ecology. She specializes in gathering and seeking wild edible plants in a respectful, non-endangering way, to ensure the sustainability of natura gathering sites. She has  been working in Europe, West-Africa, and Southeast Asia.

Course Description & Organisation

4.1. Description:

This subject is an introduction to the principles of ethnobotany and nutrition and their interrelation in the context of the global food and beverage industry. It is designed to provide students with relevant foundational knowledge, so they can practice culinary arts and food & Beverage production and service in sustainable fashion, applying basic nutritional precepts.


4.2. Organisation: 

4 sessions of 2 hours weekly.

  • Each session is broken down into 6 micro modules of 20 minutes each.
  • Each micro module reflects one core idea and one learning objective.

Course’s Objectives

This short course aims at introducing the role of plants, and more specifically, local edible flora or “ulam” in human health and nutrition. 

Learning Outcomes

On completion of this subject, students should be able to:

  1. Identify main botanical categories of wild edible and domesticated plants
  2. Identify main nutrients and their role in human nutrition
  3. Understand principles of nutrition and food sociology
  4. Apply foundation knowledge on nutrition and ethnobotany in professional food and beverage context, for healthier and more sustainable culinary preparations.

Teaching Method

  • Lecture (presential and online) > 30%
  • Applications (workshop, case studies) > 70%

Assessment Details

The breakdown of the assessment modalities is as follows:

  • Continuous Assessment (CA): 40%
  • Final Assessment (FA): 60%


Details are shown here below.

  • Continuous Assessment (CA)

CA is conducted at the end of each session in the form of 1 brief online Quizz.  CA is worth 40% of the total assessment, i.e., 10% worth per session.


  • Final Assessment (FA) 

FA is conducted at the end of the module, and comprises 2 modalities, cumulating to 60% of the overall assessment: 

  • Comprehensive Quiz that recapitulates knowledge acquired throughout sessions 1, 2, 3 and 4: worth 20%.
  • Group assignment: worth 40%.

Detailed course contents and time allocation

Session 1: Introducing plants and nutrition (2 hours)

  • Topic 1 Explaining the role of plants in human nutrition 
  • Topic 2 Introducing nutrition science
  • Topic 3 Understanding macronutrients
  • Topic 4 Understanding micronutrients
  • Topic 5 The importance of energy balance
  • Topic 6 The nutritional lifecycle


 Session 2: We Are What We Eat (2 hours)

  • Topic 1 Overview of food-related pathologies
  • Topic 2 Two mini case-studies on plants and human nutrition
  • Topic 3 Workshop 1: eating habits (today/yesterday)
  • Topic 4 Workshop 2: eating patterns (last seven days)
  • Topic 5 Analysis and discussion: enabling change and how to go about it.
  • Topic 6 Factors affecting our eating patterns


Session 3: Talking Professionally About Plants (2 hours)

  • Topic 1 Wild Edible Plants: 
  • 1.a. Your own story with ulam
  • 1.b. What are WEP and where to find them
  • Topic 2 Agriculture history: the wild origins of cultivated plants
  • Topic 3 Introducing plants terminology
  • Topic 4 Introducing plants taxonomy
  • Topic 5 Toxicity and edibility of plants
  • Topic 6 Where to retrieve information on wild edible plants:
    • Instructions for group assignment on ulam presentation.


SESSION 4: The Power of Wild Edible Plants (2 hours)

  • Topic 1 Workshop: manipulating local plants
  • 1.a. Building your own interrelation with plants
  • 1.b. identifying plants and plants’ parts
  • Topic 2. Sensorial analysis of an ulam sampling
  • Topic 3 Discussion: where to access ulam in Malaysia
  • Topic 4 The nutrient gap between wild & domesticated plants
  • Topic 5 Impact of food processing on plant nutrient content
  • Topic 6 Takeaway tips for plants’ culinary preparation


SESSION 5: Online Quiz + Group Assignment

References for this Course

  • 8.1  Indicative Reading

Grusak, M.A. 1999. Improving the nutrient composition of plants to enhance human nutrition and health. Annu. Rev. Plant Physiol. Plant Mol. Biol. 50:133-161.

Samy, J & Sugumaran, M. & Lee L.W. Kate.; Wong, K.M. (ed.). 2014. Useful Herbs of Malaysia and Singapore. An introduction to their medicinal, culinary, aromatic, and cosmetic uses. Singapore: Marshall Cavendish.

Wan Hassan, Wan Embong. 2010. Ulam: Salad Herbs of Malaysia. Kuala Lumpur: Masbe Sdn Bhd.

White, P.J., Broadley, M.R. & Gregory, P.J. 2012. Managing the Nutrition of Plants and People. Applied and Environmental Soil Science, Vol. 2012, Article ID 104826, 13 pages. Doi: 1155/2012/104826.


  • 8.2  Webography, Videography and other media

Database – Plants for a future:

Textbook – An introduction to nutrition:

Market and Recipe by the Ulam School:

Wild Edible Plants and Jungle Survival:

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General Information

  • Subject name: Plants and Nutrition
  • Micro-credentials / number of credits: 
  • Contact hours: 8 hours (presential mode: hours / online: hours)

Entry Requirements

  • None


  • Module 1 “Introduction to Food Sustainability”

Total Hours

8 hours

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