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Help celebrate and save food diversity.

Watch the short film to find out why it matters.

Introduction to Food Diversity Day
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Inspired by Eating to Extinction, on January 13th 2023 Dan Saladino was joined by seed expert Alys Fowler, Professor Tim Spector, chefs Thomasina Miers, Mitch Tonks and Michael Caines, baker Wing Mong Cheung and many others for a series of live and online events to celebrate Britain's rare and endangered foods and start work on a food diversity manifesto. Find out what happened and catch up on the sessions below.

You can also explore further resources for each of the sessions here. 


Vegetables by Jason Taylor.jpeg

Welcome to Food Diversity Day!

In this opening session, we heard about the big ideas behind Food Diversity Day, and learned more about the stories and themes to be explored across the ten different sessions. 


We also heard the latest thinking on why food diversity matters for our own health as well as that of the planet, and the value of food for community and identity.


Polly Russell (food historian) talked to Dan Saladino (Eating to Extinction), Tim Benton (Chatham House), Tim Spector (Food For Life) and Melissa Thompson (Motherland: A Jamaican Cookbook) to answer the question, “Why does food diversity matter?”

Homemade Bread

Bread, Baking and the Diversity of Grains

Wheat is the globe’s third largest commodity. Almost all the varieties being grown today are dependent on pesticides and artificial fertilisers and bred for yield and ease of harvesting, milling and high-speed baking in vast integrated systems. Nutritional value, taste, baking quality, soil health and CO2 emissions are not usually part of the equation.
Can a new understanding of grain diversity change all that? There’s growing evidence that it can. Three people in the wheat and bread business cast light on a changing wheat world.
Sheila Dillon with Kim Bell (UK Grain Lab), Wing Mon Cheung (Cereal Bakery), Fintan Keenan (Quartz Mølle, Denmark).


Seeds: A Guide to Creating Diversity

Protecting food diversity isn’t just about preserving what was important in the past, it’s also about ensuring new diversity is being created in our future crops, vegetables and fruits. We need to make sure varieties are being developed and planted so they can evolve and adapt to future needs. The good news is this is a mission we can all participate in. In this session, Alys Fowler and guests explained how more of us can exchange, save and plant seeds, and create the diversity of the future.   


Alys Fowler (horticulturalist), Sinead Fortune (Gaia Foundation), Madeline McKeever (Brown Envelope Seeds) and Guy Watson (Riverford).


Soil, Pasture & Animal breeds: Why Diversity Matters in Meat and Dairy

As Dan Saladino describes in Eating to Extinction, global meat and dairy production is based on a small gene pool of highly productive animal breeds.


But around the world models exist in which diversity is still at the heart of the farming system. In this session we heard how diverse breeds raised on diverse pastures can produce food with benefits to soil, biodiversity and nutrition. 


Jimmy Woodrow (Pasture For Life), Frederik Leroy (Vrije University, Brussels), Elizabeth Cooke (PlantLife), Sam Beaumont (Gowbarrow Hall Farm, Cumbria), and Leila Simon (Tamarisk Farm, Dorset).

Having Mixed Breakfast

A Chef’s Guide to the Ark of Taste: Can Restaurants Save Endangered Foods?

Chefs are very influential tellers of food stories. Through their restaurants and cookbooks, and on television and radio they are able to shape tastes, set trends and raise our awareness on a whole host of issues. But can this influence be used to promote greater food and farming diversity? Watch a conversation between six leading chefs who are using their menus to save endangered foods. 


Shane Holland (Slow Food UK), with chefs Michael Caines (Lympstone Manor, Devon), Akwasi Mensa (Tatale, London), Luke Holder (Lime Wood, Hampshire) and Neil Forbes (Café St Honore, Edinburgh).

fish by Jason Taylor.jpeg

Can Diversity Help Save the Oceans?

Our relationship with fish and seafood is problematic. The so-called ‘big five’ species, salmon, tuna, cod, haddock and prawns, make up 80 per cent of what we eat from the ocean. But why is this the case and what are the consequences for the marine environment? If it’s possible to add more fish diversity to our diets, which species should we focus on? Watch a marine ecologist, fisherman, retailer and chef in conversation on these important topics (because of technical issues some panel members joined this towards the end).     


Bryce Stewart (York University), Mitch Tonks (Brixham), Sanjay Kumar (chef), Caroline Bennett (Sole of Discretion), and Chris Bean (fisherman).

Yellow Lentils

The Lentil Underground: the Power of Pulses

For more than 10,000 years pulses (beans, lentils, and peas) have been among the world’s most important foods. However, in the last century, in many food cultures, they fell into decline as farming animals and meat eating became more widespread.


On a planet with a growing population, a dependence on fossil fuels and depleted soils, pulses are increasingly being seen as foods that can help us meet future challenges. They’re also delicious. In this session you can find out how people in different parts of the world are reviving lost legumes and returning a diversity of pulses back to our plates. 


Josiah Meldrum and Nick Saltmarsh (Hodmedods) with pulse revivalists from Sweden, Germany and Doc Bill Thomas from Sapelo Island, USA on the story of the Geechee Red pea.

City view

Can Cities Save Food Diversity?

Today, 56% of the world’s population – that’s 4.4 billion inhabitants – live in cities. This trend towards urban living is expected to continue, with the population of cities more than doubling its current size by 2050, at which point nearly 7 of 10 people will live in a city.


Does this necessarily mean a further decline of diversity in the way we farm and produce food? In this session, you'll hear stories from around the world in which cities are driving the transition towards greater food diversity, from an international network of farmers markets to innovations in the public procurement of food for schools and hospitals.


Richard McCarthy (World Farmers Markets Coalition), Thomasina Miers (chef and writer), Carolyn Steel (author Hungry City & Sitopia), Dora Taylor (Farmerama) and Jannie Vestergaard (Copenhagen).

Cheese at Market

The Last of Their Kind: Endangered British Cheeses and How to Save Them

There are just a handful of farms left in the UK making traditional regional cheeses, such as Red Leicester, Lancashire and Wensleydale.

in this session cheesemonger Andy Swinscoe from the Courtyard Dairy and cheese writer Patrick McGugian are joined by the cheesemakers themselves, to explore why territorial cheeses matter, the differences between farm and factory cheeses, and the importance of traditional cheesemaking.

The cheesemakers on this panel, plus their cheeses, are:

Graham Kirkham: Kirkham’s Lancashire
Jo Clarke: Sparkenhoe, Red Leicester
Sally Hattan: Stonebeck, Wensleydale.


Food Diversity Day Cheese Selection box is available to go along with the talk. Purchase via Courtyard Dairy.

Grapes growing in vineyard of Ramaz Nikoladze.jpeg

Bottling Biodiversity

For millennia, drinks have reflected a sense of place: the grape varieties used by winemakers, the types of barley and hops brewed to make beer and the plants and grains used for distillation and making spirits. Hear from some of the leading experts in wine, beer, cider and mescal on saving traditions, flavours and precious ingredients.  

Pete Brown (Miracle Brew), with Marc Millon (wine writer), Sarah Abbott (Old Vine Conference), Chava Peribán (Agave Road Trip), Gabe Cook (cider and perry expert), John Letts (grower of grains).

Fruit & Vegetable Market

Closing session: A Food Diversity Manifesto

What have we learnt from Food Diversity Day and what can we all do to make a difference? Polly, Dan, Tim Benton and Tim Spector regrouped to discuss the potential for a food diversity manifesto.


Polly Russell, Dan Saladino, Tim Benton and Tim Spector.


The Ark of Taste is an international catalogue of endangered heritage foods maintained by the global Slow Food movement. Use their free search tool to learn about rare foods local to you and see if you can find them.


These restaurants and iconic public spaces put on special food diversity menus in January 2023:

British Library (London) from 9 January 

The Magazine at the Serpentine (London) 13 – 31 January

BFI Riverfront, Waterloo (London) 13 – 27 January

Benugo Barbican (London) 13 – 27 January

Ashmolean Rooftop Restaurant (Oxford) 13 – 15 January

Savill Garden Kitchen (Windsor Great Park) 13 – 15 January

Wakehurst - Kew Gardens (Sussex) from 9 January


Please contact for any media related enquiries. 


With special thanks to our founding partners: Hodmedods, The Gaia Foundation, Luke Holder of HH&Co at Lime Wood, Benugo, Graysons Restaurants and Pasture for Life.

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