Friday, July 24, 2009

Eat It To Save It.

Renewing America's Food Traditions is continuing to echo throughout the food world. Check out this blog post in the NYT.

RAFT was my initiation--into the world of food biodiversity, into the cult of food history addicts, and into a lifetime of food storytelling and delectable feasts of local foods. Working side by side with my mentor Gary Nabhan, and other amazing food advocates like Kevin Dahl of Native Seed/SEARCH, Kent Whealy co-founder of Seed Savers Exchange, Erika Lesser and Makale Cullen of Slow Food and Don Bixby of American Livestock Breeds Conservancy, I learned about the world of heirloom breeds and seeds. I learned about the importance of saving the biodiversity of our food--not just for the irresistible, infinitude of tastes, but for sustaining our rich cultural history, our dying farmlands and promoting sustainable agriculture.

I uncovered the stories of exquisite berries too fragile to ship on the brink of extinction (read more here.) I cataloged lists of endangered foods with names themselves filled with stories: lazy housewife bean (the first string less bean), amish paste and hungarian heart tomatoes, moon & stars watermelon. I found communities dedicated to revitalizing their food traditions in the name of cultural preservation and health prevention. A life-changing experience in every way.

But before I go full steam ahead off of the cliff of digression--one last word about the NYT highlights the often ignored heirloom breeds. You may well know the heirloom turkeys that have become a hot item on Thanksgiving tables, but there is a whole world of breeds from Rhode Island chickens to Navajo churro sheep and the precious Ossabaw Island Pig I saw at Mount Vernon just a few months ago. These breeds have cultural and ecological history that when sustained, will not only allow for place-based sustainable food production but tasty meals indeed (and this, coming from a self-ascribed aquatarian).

So go eat some heirlooms to save them.

Mount Vernon's resident Ossabaw Island pig captured my heart.