There are so many jokes in On the Verge about the tasteless food called manioc that I had to look it up. Manioc, probably better known as cassava, tapioca, or yuca (but not yucca), is a woody shrub native to South America.
Cassava is the third largest source of food carbohydrates in the tropics, after rice and corn. Cassava is a major staple food in the developing world, providing a basic diet for over half a billion people. It is one of the most drought-tolerant crops, capable of growing on marginal soils. Nigeria is the world's largest producer of cassava, while Thailand is the largest exporter of dried cassava.
Cassava is classified as either sweet or bitter. Like other roots and tubers, both bitter and sweet varieties of cassava contain antinutritional factors and toxins, with the bitter varieties containing much larger amounts. They must be properly prepared before consumption, as improper preparation of cassava can leave enough residual cyanide to cause acute cyanide intoxication, goiters, and even ataxia or partial paralysis. The more toxic varieties of cassava are a fall-back resource (a "food security crop") in times of famine in some places. Farmers often prefer the bitter varieties because they deter pests, animals, and thieves.