Brooklyn, NY (PRWEB) September 29, 2009
The Slow Food USA Ark of Taste, a catalog of delicious foods in danger of extinction, has just been expanded to include twelve new food products, nominated by farmers, growers, chefs and food enthusiasts from across the country who are concerned about the diversity of our food supply.
Slow Food USA's biodiversity committee convened in Portsmouth, N.H., to evaluate, taste and vote on each nomination. The committee was tasked with assessing whether or not each nomination met the Ark of Taste criteria. To be "boarded" onto the US Ark of Taste, a food must: (1) be at risk biologically or as a cultural tradition, (2) be linked culturally or historically to a specific region, ethnicity or traditional production practice, (3) have outstanding taste, defined in the context of local traditions and uses, and (4) have sustainable market potential.
Ark of Taste foods are those that have been threatened by market standardization, industrial agriculture, and environmental damage. "This is not only about food diversity but food security," explains Jenny Trotter, associate director of Slow Food USA's biodiversity program. Seventy-five percent of the world's food now comes from only seven main crops, and from increasingly fewer varieties of those crops--ones that have been selected to produce not the most nutritious or delicious food, but those best suited to large-scale production and distribution methods.
This is also true for livestock breeds: 99 percent of turkeys eaten in American come from a single breed and 75 percent of pigs come from just three breeds. "Yet we will need many different kinds of fruits and vegetables growing in our fields and many livestock breeds on our farms if we are going to be resilient in the face of climate change," continues Trotter.
Slow Food USA and its partners in the Renewing America's Food Traditions (RAFT) Alliance are promoting the new concept of eater-based conservation. "We don't want to preserve foods as museum pieces or only conserve the genetic diversity of our food supply," said Slow Food USA's biodiversity committee chair Ben Watson. "We want to get these foods back onto farms, back into the marketplace and back onto people's tables."
Twelve food products were selected for the Ark of Taste, including:
New Ark of Taste foods also include: Canada Crookneck squash (New England), Burford pear (Virginia), Granite Beauty apple (New Hampshire), Newtown Pippin apple (New York), Harrison cider apple (New Jersey), Sierra Beauty apple (California), White Sonora wheat (California and Arizona), Pantin mamey sapote (Florida) and St. Croix sheep (US Virgin Islands).
Slow Food USA encourages people to seek out these foods, but more importantly to start local initiatives to recover and champion them. Slow Food chapters spread the word about rare varieties by hosting tastings and seed swaps, encouraging farmers and gardeners to grow endangered seeds and breeds, and persuading chefs to feature them on their menus.
"By promoting Ark of Taste products, Slow Food USA helps ensure these foods remain in production and on our plates," explains committee member Glenn Roberts, a South Carolina farmer, seedsman and miller of endangered grains. "This is about defending the delicious diversity of our food supply and supporting the farmers, ranchers, fishers and foragers who are keeping these foods and food traditions alive."
Ark of Taste nominations are reviewed at the committee's annual meeting each fall and throughout the year via committee conference calls. Anyone can download the nomination form from the Slow Food USA web site and nominate a unique, endangered food from their region. The Slow Food USA web site tells the story of every Ark of Taste food--its description, history, flavor, and how to source it. Each profile is linked to LocalHarvest.org, which lists producers around the country who grow and sell that food.
About Slow Food USA
Slow Food USA is a non-profit organization working to create a just and sustainable food system. Slow Food USA has 210 chapters, with more than 60,000 members and supporters in the United States, and is part of a larger 130-country international network. The organization creates youth programs to bring the values of eating local, sustainable and just food to schools and campuses, revitalizes and renews disappearing foods and food traditions, and advocates for a national food policy in which all people can eat food that is good for them, good for the people who grow it and good for the planet.