Bring on January 13th – the UK’s first ever Food Diversity Day! This is a new initiative celebrating our country’s most endangered foods. The initiative is the brainchild of Radio 4’s Food Programme presenter and author of Eating to Extinction: The World’s Rarest Foods and Why We Need to Save Them, Dan Saladino.
Diversity is more than a buzzword and at Quattro Foods we’re excited to explore how it applies not only to people but also to food. We know that different countries, cultures, religions and languages bring beauty to our world and vibrancy and growth to society, and that biodiversity in nature is critical for the survival of Planet Earth – but did you know that the same can be said for species of food?
Welcome to Food Diversity Day!
Apart from health (in humans and the planet) food diversity is also critical for local economies, soil, wildlife and insect life and food security. The greater Earth’s food diversity, the more resilient our food system will become. Diversity in the foods we consume creates a food system that is better protected against climate change, as well as protecting cultural traditions, practices and local flavours, and boosts the health of the soil and the ecosystem.
It’s amazing to think that we currently rely on only a tiny fraction of available foods. It seems we’re all eating the same foods that come from a small range of the vast bounty that our planet offers us. Over millennia, humans have been consuming 6,000 plant species, but now we mostly grow and consume only nine, including rice, wheat, maize, potato, barley, palm oil, soy and sugar (beet and cane), which account for 75% of all the calories we consume.
Food Diversity Day brings together scientists, food historians and chefs to host free talks (and curated menus – yum) to shine a light on lost local foods.
The impressive roster of speakers includes doctor and nutritionist Tim Spector, food historian Polly Russell and food policy expert Tim Benton. There will be a food diversity tasting menu at the British Library and at Wakehurst Botanic Gardens (Kew’s sister garden), curated by a range of high-profile chefs including Michael Caines, Gill Meller and Thomasina Miers.
Bakers Wing Mon Cheung and Kimberley Bell will be talking about endangered grains and how to introduce them to your baking repertoire, while gardening journalist Alys Fowler and founder of organic veg box company Riverford, Guy Singh-Watson, will talk about the importance of diversity in seeds.
“Writing Eating to Extinction filled me with wonder and fear because I realised how desperately the world needs food diversity for the future, and how quickly it’s being lost. But we can make a difference by coming together, celebrating what we have and playing a role in saving endangered foods,” said Saladino.
Join us on Food Diversity Day so we can all work together to create new opportunities to discover the richness of British food culture and enjoy thousands of unique flavours from around the world.