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Saving the edible planet

(article, Caroline Cummins)

It's nice to see Gary Paul Nabhan getting attention for his efforts to save edible diversity. It's also nice to see Slow Food getting credit for doing the same. As Kim Severson pointed out recently in the New York Times, both groups essentially encourage saving the planet's biodiversity by eating it.

Not overeating it, that is; this ain't about driving a species into extinction, passenger-pigeon style, by eating it to death. But for the obscure heirlooms out there —  Severson lists the Waldoboro green neck rutabaga and the Tennessee fainting goat, among others — raising enough of them to eat may be the only way to keep them around. 

Nabhan is doing it with a book, Renewing America's Food Traditions. Slow Food has done it for years with its Foundation for Biodiversity, which protects certain edible species under its Presidia and Ark of Taste programs.

Other groups mentioned in the Severson piece include Chefs Collaborative, the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy, and and the Seed Savers Exchange. As Severson points out, "Mr. Nabhan’s book is part of a larger effort to bring foods back from the brink by engaging nursery owners, farmers, breeders, and chefs to grow and use them."

That means ordinary shoppers need to buy and use them, too. Where to start? Well, your local farmers' markets and food co-ops are easy places to ask. But there are online purveyors, too, such as Rancho Gordo, which sells heirloom dried beans.