Endangered species have come out of the woods and onto the table.
No, people aren’t eating piping plovers or eastern pumas. At least no one I know. But people also aren’t eating a lot of the vegetables our grandparents ate … because they don’t exist any more. Monsanto and Archer Daniels Midland and the rest of Big Food have eliminated hundreds of thousands of heirloom seeds and plants.
Factory farms select their vegetable varieties based on one thing: shipability. Say, the ability of a tasteless tomato to look good at Giant after it’s traveled 3,000 miles.
Working to reverse that are 500 RAFT market farmers in over 40 states who, over the past 3 years, have returned endangered varieties to their fields. The bounty went to chefs and neighbors, and if RAFT stays alive for long enough it may save our collective belly.
Here’s the NYT story on the RAFT Alliance and Gary Nabhan’s new book, “Renewing America’s Food Traditions: Saving and Savoring the Continent’s Most Endangered Foods.”