If biodiversity disappears, what will happen to our food?
Biodiversity is our insurance policy for the future, allowing plants and animals to adapt to climatic changes, attacks by parasites and disease, or the unexpected. A system that is biologically varied is endowed with the antibodies to counter dangerous organisms and restore its own equilibrium. A system based on a limited number of varieties, on the other hand, is very fragile. The small-scale farmers, shepherds, fishers that know and respect the fragile balance of nature are the earth’s last true custodians. If biodiversity disappears, together with wild flora and fauna, many domesticated plants and animal breeds will also disappear. Today 60% of the world’s food is based on just three cereals: wheat, rice and corn. Not on the thousands of rice varieties selected by farmers, once cultivated in India and China, or on the thousands of varieties of corn that used to be grown in Mexico, but on the few hybrid varieties selected and sold to farmers by a handful of multinationals.
Slow Food’s mission has always been focused on the defense of biodiversity: domesticated, edible biodiversity. Meaning not just pandas and polar bears, but also Gascon chickens and Alpago lambs; not just edelweiss and rainforests, but also violet asparagus from Albenga and traditional Swiss plum orchards. Biodiversity is not some abstract concept. It’s all around us, and it’s endangered too.
The good news is that we can all do our bit to protect the biodiversity of our local area, in our part of the world, every day. Not by focusing on what we’ve already lost, but what we can still save. You can protect biodiversity by championing the unique plant and animal species and food practices from your culture.
Three new downloadable publications from the Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity will show you how you can actively get involved in protecting our biodiversity.
The first booklet, Biodiversity, explores the definition and the importance of biodiversity—what is it, what it has to do with our daily food and what can we do to preserve it.
The second details Slow Food’s Ark of Taste project, an online catalog of endangered foods from around the world. The Ark of Taste was created to draw attention to the existence of these products and the risk of their extinction and to ask everyone to take action to help protect them. The booklet details how to identify products from your area that may be at risk of extinction and how to nominate them for the Ark.
The third booklet details the Presidia, Slow Food projects working with groups of small-scale producers of a particular endangered product, helping them resolve difficulties, uniting isolated producers and connecting them with alternative markets more sensitive to their situation and appreciative of their quality products. The booklet details how to create a Presidium, build relationships with producers and organize activities.
You can download the booklets at www.slowfoodfoundation.org, and take a step towards saving our planet’s biodiversity today.