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Slow Food works to save endangered food

Oysters from New Jersey, Cornish pilchards and Madagascan red rice are all being protected under a major new initiative from Slow Food.

With thousands of food products becoming extinct every day, the Italian-based Slow Food Movement has just launched a new website for the Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity.

The Foundation was started last year because, Slow Food says, ‘the appreciation of gastronomy must include the additional step of safeguarding our gastronomic resources’.

Set up in partnership with the local government of Tuscany, the Foundation aims to protect to conserve biodiversity and protect foods which are dying out through the economic pressures of globalisation.

On the website it says it is ‘especially dedicated to the world’s less developed countries, where conserving biodiversity means not only improving quality of life, but actually saving lives, communities and cultures.’

The website has hair-raising statistics: 75% of European food product diversity has been lost since 1900, 93% of American food product diversity has been lost in the same time period, 33% of livestock varieties have disappeared or are near disappearing, 30,000 vegetable varieties have become extinct in the last century, and one more is lost every six hours.

The Ark of Taste and the Presidia project are two arms of the Foundation. The first is a ‘library’ of products ‘that are threatened by industrial standardization, hygiene laws, the regulations of large-scale distribution and environmental damage.’

The Presidia project gives financial and other assisance to artisan producers – on the basis that if a product is economically viable, it will not die out.

Products revived under Presidia (which is Latin for ‘protective garrison’) include English Cheddar (which is in danger of becoming a bland, mass-produced supermarket staple), corn and llama meat from the Andes, Basmati rice, Cornish pilchards (pictured), Greek Mavrotragano wines, New Jersey oysters and Danish butter.

Visitors to the website can nominate products for the Ark of Taste or Presidia.

Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity

Written by Adam Lechmere

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