28 items found for ""
- ABOUT THE BOOK | Dan Saladino
ABOUT THE BOOK A captivating and urgent exploration of some of the world's most endangered foods, Eating to Extinction is a thrilling journey through the history of humankind's relationship with food. It reveals a world at a crisis point, but it also gives reasons for hope. FIND THE BOOK SELECTED REVIEWS Read more "A genuine masterpiece and a call to arms. Everyone who loves food and cooking should read this" — Gill Meller "I love this book, not only is it a treasure trove of knowledge, stories and ideas, it's a call to us all to save foods, flavours and our diversity. It's important and timely. I wish the whole world could read it." — Raymond Blanc "For anyone interested in Darwin, world power, and life itself, read on." — Cerys Matthews "Dan Saladino writes about global food culture as urgently and compellingly as he broadcasts on The Food Programme. He makes a brilliant case that the diversity of our food culture is inextricably linked to the biodiversity of our environment, and therefore the future of our food IS the future of our planet." — Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall "A rallying cry to us all to protect the world's diversity before it's too late. But this is also a book filled with optimism; it captures the energy of a global movement of people dedicating their lives to saving the plants, the animals, the flavours and the food knowledge we must preserve." — Alice Waters "A real attention-grabber, an exceptionally wide-ranging, informative clarion call... As much an inspiring guide to the pioneering individuals, indigenous groups, scientists, and food producers who are championing the world's rich food heritage, as a warning about what threatens it." — Joanna Blythman, BBC Good Food Magazine "A fascinating journey across the fast disappearing diversity of our foods, which we ignore at our peril – a brilliant read." —Tim Spector "I've long admired Dan Saladino's journalism for its broad scope and passion. The same qualities animate his first book Eating to Extinction, an inspiring account of endangered foods and food cultures across the planet. Everyone who cares about what they eat will want to know its stories." —Harold McGee "How lucky we are that Dan Saladino has been able to tell these stories… This is the most important book about food that I have read for a long time… It is beautifully written and without hyperbole." —Stephen Harris "This is an enthralling tour of some of the world’s most endangered foods." —Caroline Sanderson, The Bookseller, Editor’s Choice "This is a poignant and urgent read, it gets to the heart of storytelling because its threads the one thing that connects us all, our relationships to food. It is a timely reminder, too, that if we honour these connections we might have time to still save our rich heritage of diverse foods. Dip into this book immediately, just don't do it on an empty stomach." —Alys Fowler "Essential reading for those with a profound interest in the culture, history and anthropology of what, how and why we eat. It's completely absorbing, enlightening and a necessary addition to every bookshelf." —Richard Corrigan "Eating to Extinction is a celebration in the form of eclectic case studies . . . What Saladino finds in his adventures are people with soul-deep relationships to their food. This is not the decadence or the preciousness we might associate with a word like 'foodie,' but a form of reverence . . . Enchanting." —Molly Young, The New York Times "Eating to Extinction tells the stories of dozens of . . . endangered tastes and makes a reasoned case for saving them in which nostalgia and sentimentality play very little part . . . Saladino has an 18-year-old backpacker’s willingness to light out for remote destinations far from the usual food-writer feeding troughs . . . [A] deeply humanist book . . . Saladino’s eye for detail is photographic when he is describing places and things." —Pete Wells, The New York Times Book Review "[An] impressively researched book . . . Saladino brings his subjects to life, even breaking bread with them as he seeks out these rare and important foods. His evocative descriptions make a culinary case for preserving them." —Hannah Wallace, The Washington Post "Fascinating . . . A delightful exploration of traditional foods as well as a grim warning that we are farming on borrowed time." —Kirkus Reviews (starred review) “This is a big book with a simple message: that we all need to pay more attention to what we are (and are no longer) eating. Behind everything we eat there are people, places, and stories. When we lose diversity in our food, we threaten also the culture and history of the land and the people who produce it. As the world becomes increasingly homogenous, preserving these things—keeping hold of diversity—matters. Dan Saladino manages to highlight the urgency of this matter while also inspiring us to believe that turning the tide is still possible.” —Yotam Ottolenghi "This inspiring and urgent book is one of the few food books that has ever given me goosebumps. Eating to Extinction is a love letter to the huge diversity of foods enjoyed by human beings. A story full of both loss and hope." —Bee Wilson, author of The Wall Street Journal's "Table Talk" column “Saladino delivers profound truths about our food system while taking the reader on a fabulous journey of taste, texture and provenance.” —Paul Greenberg, bestselling author of the James Beard award-winner Four Fish. "This is a work of staggering importance. If we relinquish control of the food supply to industrial technology, we lose not only our cultural heritage and good taste, but the ability to feed ourselves in a sustainable, local and meaningful way. Dan Saladino sounds a call to action, not a swan song of bygone foodways, and it should be required reading on the lists of everyone concerned about food." —Ken Albala, professor of history at the University of the Pacific "Eating to Extinction is an exhaustively researched and fascinating account of endangered food and drink. As a study of biodiversity and cultural creativity its message is alarming yet hopeful." —Paul Freedman, professor at Yale University and author of Ten Restaurants that Changed America "[An] excellent and valuable book." ―Colin Tudge, Literary Review "Packed with breathtaking facts... Saladino moves seamlessly from the political...to the personal... Let's hope that Eating to Extinction can change the world." ―Antonia Windsor, Mail on Sunday "Eating to Extinction operates on a parallel time scales, as a polemic on the urgent need for action on agricultural diversity, and as a deeply researched, if accessible, history of food and drink production... Its satisfactions come from Saladino's ear for a human story and the breadth of the landscapes, and ecosystems, it covers... Saladino's study is immersive, evocative on a planetary scale, and appropriately so if we are to consider how best to protect the planet's resources." ― Niki Segnit, Times Literary Supplement "Packed full of knowledge about a host of ingredients that you probably didn't even know existed, Eating to Extinction captures the urgency (and cost) of heading towards a future that is less nutritionally diverse." ―Gege Li, New Scientist "Saladino offers many wonderful vignettes of indigenous food cultures." ―Economist Guild of Food Writers Winner: Food Book of the Year 2022 and First Book of the Year 2022 Corriere della Sera Cook Awards 2021 Winner: Food Book of the Year The New Yorker Featured in "Best Books of 2022" Bloomberg One of 52 'recommended new books of 2022' the Art of Eating Shortlisted for 2023 Prize André Simon Memorial Fund Annual Food and Drink Book Award Winner: Special Commendation Award 2021 James Cropper Wainwright Prize Winner: Conservation Book of the Year 2022 The Times One of '18 Best Food Books 2021' Slow Food in the UK Dan Saladino: Person of the Year 2022 Book Tube Prize Finalist, 2023 Fortnum & Mason Food and Drink Awards 2021 Winner Stanford Food and Drink Travel Book of the Year Shortlisted The Observer One of '20 best food books of 2021' Wired magazine One of 12 'Best Books of 2022'
- CONTACT | Dan Saladino
CONTACT Dan has given talks around the world about Eating to Extinction , food and biodiversity, endangered foods, agriculture and resilience and global food history. Previous appearances include COP27, Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, Hay Festival, MAD Academy (Denmark), The Fermentation Association (USA), European Food Summit (Slovenia), Dutch Design Week, FarmEd, Food on The Edge (Ireland), Slow Food Terra Madre (Turin), 5x15 talks, The How To Academy, WOMAD, GRASP Festival (Denmark), De Balie (Amsterdam), Oxford Real Farming Conference, Syracuse University (Florence), ABC (Australia), NBC (USA), Loose Ends (BBC Radio 4), BBC Arabic, BBC World Service, Newshour, International Agrobiodiversity Congress. Dan welcomes invitations from organisations keen to learn more about the importance of food diversity and preserving it for the future, either to small groups or large gatherings. To discuss availability, please get in touch using the form below. For foreign rights enquiries, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org . First Name Last Name Email Message Thank you for your message! Send
- Dan Saladino, author of 'Eating to Extinction'
We need to save the world’s most endangered foods. They represent history, identity, science, culture, creativity and craft. And our future. We all need to know these stories. Play Video Facebook Twitter Pinterest Tumblr Copy Link Link Copied Welcome to the website of Dan Saladino, journalist, writer and broadcaster. Here you will find articles and audio linked to his book Eating to Extinction, The World's Rarest Foods and Why We Need to Save Them , as well as follow-ups to stories in the book and the latest research and ideas on food biodiversity and indigenous food systems. This is the personal website of Dan Saladino dedicated to Eating to Extinction . For BBC Radio 4's The Food Programme click here. LATEST NEWS Why we should all be eating more this January! Every time I’m invited to talk about Eating to Extinction at events, conferences and book festivals, the one question that always crops... Capturing the essence of a book Wild African honey, Andean tubers, Japanese salt-preserved fish and a unique Anatolian wheat are just four of the nearly forty stories of... How I discovered there was such a thing as an endangered food On my first day working on The Food Programme, back in 2007, Sheila Dillon asked me what my first edition was going to be about. Sicilian...
- FOOD DIVERSITY DAY | Dan Saladino
FOOD DIVERSITY DAY Help celebrate and save food diversity. Watch the short film to find out why it matters. Play Video Facebook Twitter Pinterest Tumblr Copy Link Link Copied 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 . SCHEDULE OF TALKS, PRESENTATIONS AND DISCUSSIONS 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?” WATCH NOW 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). WATCH NOW 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). WATCH NOW 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). WATCH NOW 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). WATCH NOW 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). WATCH NOW 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. WATCH NOW 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). WATCH NOW 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. A Food Diversity Day Cheese Selection box is available to go along with the talk. Purchase via Courtyard Dairy . WATCH NOW 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). WATCH NOW 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. WATCH NOW TASTE & DISCOVER FOOD DIVERSITY 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 PRESS CONTACT Please contact email@example.com for any media related enquiries. FOUNDING PARTNERS 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.
- Food Diversity Day Resources | Dan Saladino
FOOD DIVERSITY DAY: RESOURCES Food, biodiversity and endangered foods Slow Food’s Ark of Taste An online catalogue of the world’s most endangered foods, more than 5000 from 150 countries. https://www.fondazioneslowfood.com/en/what-we-do/the-ark-of-taste/ Slow Food UK’s Ark of Taste https://www.slowfood.org.uk/ff-info/forgotten-foods/ Global Crop Diversity Trust An international organisation dedicated to conserving and making crop diversity available for use globally, forever and for the benefit of everyone. https://www.croptrust.org The Foods of England Project Using the British Library's collection, from cookbooks going back to the 1300s and from newspapers and other records, this project by Glyn Hughes brings together the original receipts (recipes) for over 3000 forgotten dishes. http://www.foodsofengland.co.uk/about.htm Food Museum Located in East Anglia, ‘Britain’s Breadbasket’, the museum’s mission is to connect people with where our food comes from and the impact of our choices: past, present and future https://foodmuseum.org.uk/about/ Bread, Baking and the Diversity of Grains UK Grain Lab An annual meeting of farmers, millers, plant breeders, bakers, cooks, scientists and academics providing an opportunity to learn from each other and talk about the future of food. https://www.ukgrainlab.com Real Bread Campaign An organisation finding and sharing ways to make bread better for us, better for our communities and better for the planet. https://www.sustainweb.org/realbread/ Britain and Ireland Community Grains Association Promoting locally based non-commodity grain cultivation and use to millers, bakers and consumers in our respective local areas and across Ireland and Britain. http://www.bicga.org.uk/ Washington State University Bread Lab Researchers working outside the commodity system on wheat and other grains to develop better tasting, healthier, affordable bread. https://breadlab.wsu.edu/ The Last of Their Kind: Endangered British Cheeses and How to Save Them Specialist Cheesemakers Association An alliance of cheesemakers, retailers, wholesalers and others involved with artisan cheese, which was established to encourage excellence in cheesemaking. https://www.specialistcheesemakers.co.uk/ Patrick McGuigan One of the UK’s leading cheese writers and communicators, who has interviewed the world's best cheesemakers, affineurs and cheesemongers. https://www.patrickmcguigan.com/ Courtyard Dairy A cheese shop but also a great online resource for finding out more about cheese. https://www.thecourtyarddairy.co.uk/blog/cheese-musings-and-tips/ British Cheese Awards Founded by Juliet Harbutt in 1994, the awards celebrate cheese makers from across the UK and Ireland. http://www.britishcheeseawards.com World Cheese Awards Bringing together cheesemakers, retailers, buyers and food commentators worldwide to judge over 4,000 cheeses from over 40 countries. https://gff.co.uk/awards/world-cheese-awards/ Milk Trekker Cheesemaker Trevor Warmedahl documents global traditions of cheese, dairying, and pastoralism as he travels the world. https://milktrekker.substack.com/ Soil, Pasture & Animal breeds: Why Diversity Matters in Meat and Dairy Domestic Animal Diversity Information System Maintained and developed by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation, DAD-IS is a database of global livestock diversity. https://www.fao.org/dad-is/en/ Rare Breeds Survival Trust An organisation established in 1974 to monitor, save and promote our UK native livestock breeds. https://www.rbst.org.uk/ UK Breeds at Risk The UK government’s record of the smallest and most fragile livestock populations. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/uk-breeds-at-risk-from-exotic-animal-disease-outbreaks/uk-breeds-at-risk-list-bar Pasture For Life Promoting produce raised exclusively on pasture, and making the case for the wider environmental and animal welfare benefits that pastured livestock systems represent. https://www.pastureforlife.org/about-us/our-mission/ Livestock Conservancy Trust A non-proﬁt organization working to protect more than 180 breeds of livestock and poultry from extinction, including cattle, chickens, pigs and sheep. Since its inception in 1977, The Livestock Conservancy has not lost a breed on its Conservation Priority List to extinction. https://livestockconservancy.org A Chef’s Guide to the Ark of Taste: Can Restaurants Save Endangered Foods? Slow Food Cooks’ Alliance A world-wide network of cooks from restaurants, bistros, canteens and street kitchens who support small producers and custodians of biodiversity, by using products from Presidia projects and the Ark of Taste, as well as local fruits, vegetables and cheeses, in their kitchens. https://www.slowfood.com/tag/alliance-between-chefs-and-small-scale-producers/ Slow Food Cooks Alliance (UK) A network of chefs committed to cooking and promoting endangered foods from the Slow Food Ark of Taste and other communities of local producers. https://www.slowfood.org.uk/chef_alliance_info/chef-alliance/ Slow Food Cooks’ Alliance (US) A network uniting cooks across the United States to support local producers, influence policy and awaken eaters to the rich food cultures and biodiversity of our planet. https://slowfoodusa.org/cooks-alliance/ Relais & Chateaux Food for Change A collaboration between Relais & Châteaux and Slow Food which supports producers of endangered foods and regenerative farming with the aim of restoring ecosystems. https://www.relaischateaux.com/gb/p/food-for-change Can Diversity Help Save the Oceans? Marine Stewardship Council An organisation working with fisheries, scientists and industry to make sure our oceans are fished sustainably and that it’s easy to find and buy certified sustainable seafood. https://www.msc.org The Sea Around Us A source of fisheries and fisheries-related data with ecological and policy relevance, including Exclusive Economic Zones, High Seas, or Large Marine Ecosystems. https://www.seaaroundus.org Blue Marine Foundation A charity dedicated to restoring the ocean to health by addressing overfishing, one of the world’s biggest environmental problems. https://www.bluemarinefoundation.com/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMInLDbmYih_AIVRrTtCh3CdABlEAAYASAAEgIrQvD_BwE The State of the World’s Fisheries and Aquaculture A biennial flagship report of the FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Division that analyses the status of global stocks as well as trends in fisheries and aquaculture at a global and regional level. https://www.fao.org/publications/sofia/2022/en/ The Lentil Underground: the Power of Pulses UN World Pulses Day An initiative to heighten public awareness of the nutritional, environmental and culinary benefits of eating pulses. https://www.un.org/en/observances/world-pulses-day Harvard School of Public Health A guide to various pulses and the latest science on their health benefits. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/legumes-pulses/ BBC Food A guide to buying and cooking pulses https://www.bbc.co.uk/food/pulse Can Cities Save Food Diversity? World Farmers Market Coalition An organisation set up in 2022 to cultivate a world community of farmers markets and share best practices and innovation, defend endangered markets and promote food diversity. https://worldfarmersmarketscoalition.org Sustain An alliance of organisations and communities working together for a better system of food, farming and fishing, and cultivating the movement for change. https://www.sustainweb.org/climatechange/public_sector_procurement/ Milan Urban Food Policy Pact An international protocol aimed at tackling food-related issues at the urban level, to be adopted by as many world cities as possible. https://www.milanurbanfoodpolicypact.org/the-milan-pact/ International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems What Makes Urban Food Policy Happen? Insights from five case studies. https://www.ipes-food.org/_img/upload/files/Cities_full.pdf Seeds: A Guide to Creating Diversity Gaia Foundation An international foundation dedicated to reviving and protecting cultural and biological diversity in order to restore resilience for ecosystems and local communities. https://www.gaiafoundation.org The Heritage Seed Library A charity which maintains the national collection of heritage vegetables for the UK, conserving vegetable varieties not widely available and sharing those seeds for members to grow and enjoy. https://www.gardenorganic.org.uk/what-we-do/the-heritage-seed-library Svalbard Global Seed Vault A vault constructed deep under the Arctic Circle safeguarding duplicates of 1.2 million seed samples from almost every country in the world. In backing up gene bank collections it is securing the foundations of our future food supply. https://www.croptrust.org/work/svalbard-global-seed-vault/ National Laboratory for Genetic Resources Preservation (United States) The home of one of the world’s largest plant and animal gene banks, helping to shape the future of agriculture in the United States. The plant division alone contains more than 10,000 plant species. https://www.ars.usda.gov/plains-area/fort-collins-co/center-for-agricultural-resources-research/paagrpru/ Irish Seed Savers This organisation, founded in 1991, raises public awareness about the fragility of Irish agricultural biodiversity and maintains a public seed bank with over 600 non-commercially available varieties of heirloom and heritage seeds, including rare vegetables, fruit, grains and potatoes. http://www.irishseedsavers.ie Millennium Seed Bank, Wakehurst A globally important collection of wild plant species sourced by a seed conversation network covering over 80 countries. https://www.kew.org/science/collections-and-resources/collections/seed-collection Seedbank (Australia) A seed collection of thousands of plant species found in Australia including many which are rare and threatened in the wild. https://www.rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au/science/australian-plantbank-1/our-collections-at-plantbank/plant-journeys/the-seedbank Navdanya (India) A network of seed savers and community seed banks, founded by Dr. Vandana Shiva, which is working across more than 20 states. It contains under-used crops such as millets, pulses, and pseudo-cereals and over 4,000 rice varieties. https://www.navdanya.org/living-seed/navdanya-seed-banks Bottling Biodiversity CAMRA Founded by four real ale enthusiasts back in 1971, the Campaign for Real Ale represents beer drinkers and pub-goers across the UK https://camra.org.uk Welsh Perry & Cider Society (WPCS) A not-for-profit organisation that has cultivated an ever-growing crop of traditional cider and perry producers https://www.welshcider.co.uk Old Vines Conference Galvanising a global movement to nurture and value great old vines, and their wines. https://www.oldvines.org SACRED A not-for-profit corporation helping improve lives in the rural Mexican communities where heritage agave spirits are made https://www.sacred.mx/aboutsacred BACK TO EVENT SCHEDULE
- AUDIO | Dan Saladino
AUDIO Listen to exclusive audio tracks: interviews with some of the experts and food heroes Dan met while researching Eating to Extinction , and eight surprising food facts! INTERVIEWS AND STORIES James Woodburn, photo by Alan Macfarlane Why do Hadza hunter-gatherers live in an egalitarian society? Dan talks to the anthropologist James Woodburn who first encountered the Hadza in 1957. 00:00 / 06:54 Hadza hunter and meat Bruce Pascoe, photo by Lyn Harwood The life-giving delicious daisy close to the brink of extinction Chef Ben Shewry and the aboriginal writer Bruce Pascoe tell Dan the story of the murnong. 00:00 / 16:42 Illustration of murnong by Becky Ripley 8 SURPRISING FOOD FACTS Introduction: diversity 00:00 / 01:22 Seeds 00:00 / 02:07 Coffee 00:00 / 01:33 Chocolate 00:00 / 01:24 Apple 00:00 / 01:18 Potato 00:00 / 01:19 Strange maize 00:00 / 01:33 Cheese 00:00 / 01:02
- EXPLORE THE BOOK | Dan Saladino
EXPLORE THE BOOK Click on a location to find short extracts from the book and photographs Dan took on his research travels. Then scroll down to find 15 amazing facts he discovered on his journey! 1 2 3 6 4 5 7 8 9 10 11 12 14 15 16 13 1 Lake Eyasi, Tanzania 3 Colorado, USA 5 Büyük Çatma, Anatolia 7 Andes, Bolivia 9 Great Plains, USA 11 Tian Shan, Kazakhstan 13 Accursed Mountains, Albania 15 Harenna, Ethiopia 2 Southern Australia 4 Garo Hills, India 6 Oaxaca, Mexico 8 Faroe Islands 10 Nishiizu, Southern Japan 12 Nottinghamshire, England 14 Three Counties, England 16 Cumanacoa, Venezuela 15 AMAZING FACTS For most of human history, our food was extraordinarily diverse Read more The world’s largest seed vault is on the Arctic island of Svalbard, deemed to be the most secure place on the planet for storing more than one million seeds, varieties of more than 1,000 different crops. The collection is a living record of thousands of years of farming history and the diversity we have lost and are losing from our fields and our diets. It includes 170,000 individual samples of rice, 39,000 samples of maize, 21,000 samples of potato and 35,000 samples of millet – each potentially with unique flavours and other valuable properties, including disease or drought resistance, we can’t afford to lose. The food skills that make us human are being lost Read more The Hadza have lived in the Great Rift Valley, East Africa for at least 40,000 years. Fewer than 300 still live as hunter-gatherers, providing the closest living link we have to the diets of our ancestors. Their favourite food is honey and to find it they communicate with a bird, the honeyguide. The birds recognise the sounds of the Hadza’s whistles and lead the humans to trees containing bees’ nests. The Hadza smoke the bees out and take the honey and in return, the birds get to eat the wax without being stung to death. It’s the most complex and productive partnership between two different species and is thought to reach back a million years or more to our ancestors’ first use of fire. Wild honey is one of the foods that fuelled human evolution. It’s no coincidence the human-bird partnership is being lost as sugar and sweet fizzy drinks arrive in Hadzaland. Plants once dismissed as weeds are now understood to be a precious food resource Read more In the south of England, near Gatwick Airport, is another seed vault, housed underground inside a building so secure it’s been made to withstand explosions, radiation and flooding. This is home to seeds of the wild relatives of the foods we eat. Explorers from more than a hundred countries are busy searching in jungles, across savannah and within forests for endangered ‘crop wild relatives’, sending seed samples to be stored at the Millennium Seed Bank. Until recently, these wild plants were regarded mostly as weeds; now we realise we need them to breed the crops of the future as they could contain the genetic tool-kits required to protect against disease and climate change. A sign outside the vault, which contains 2.4 million seeds, says, ‘You are standing in the most biodiverse place on the planet’. Cheese is the ultimate expression of place Read more Humans have been making cheese for at least 7,000 years and once there were as many different cheeses as there were places. Cheese, in whatever form it has taken, has traditionally captured the essence of an environment: the grass, the microbes (bacteria and fungi), the local breeds of animal and their milk. But cheese is becoming more and more uniform and its ancient link with the land is being broken. Much of the cheese we eat today, wherever we are in the world, is made from milk processed by a small number of companies, sourced from the same breed of cattle, using bacteria and enzymes created in a handful of labs. We are at risk of losing the diversity created by thousands of years of cheese-making. In a place of conflict and turmoil chocolate provides a source of hope Read more In my search for endangered foods around the world, I travelled to Venezuela, a country that was in crisis; the economy had collapsed, a crime-wave was underway, and people were going hungry. In the capital Caracas I met former chef Maria Fernanda di Giacobbe who was teaching people to survive difficult times by making chocolate. Her idea was to restore Venezuela’s rare and prized cacao, criollo, once used to make the most revered chocolate in the world, drunk by Aztecs in Mexico and later by Europeans (including Pepys in 17th century London). Criollo farming fell into decline when Venezuela’s rush for oil took off and the prestigious seeds became endangered. Now di Giacobbe is helping farmers grow criollo and teaching Venezuelans how to turn criollo beans into chocolate, so creating jobs, hope for the future and some of the best bars of chocolate in the world. Increasingly, we're all eating exactly the same foods Read more Of the 6,000 plant species humans have eaten over time, the world now mostly grows and consumes just nine, of which just three – rice, wheat and maize – provide 50 per cent of all calories. Add potato, barley, palm oil, soy and sugar (beet and cane) and you have 75 per cent of all the calories that fuel our species. The diversity within these crops is also disappearing as we rely on a smaller and smaller number of high yielding varieties. Our survival depends on knowing where our food comes from Read more Knowing where a food plant originated can lead us to where the greatest genetic diversity of that crop exists. Genetic diversity, we’re realising, is the secret to future food security and resilience, and preserving it is important for our survival. At the International Potato Center in Lima, for instance, 4,600 different Andean tubers are being safeguarded. This rich diversity in the potato’s ‘centre of origin’ is where we have the greatest chance of finding the genetic traits needed in future to protect against climate change and disease (such as the blight that caused the Irish potato famine). Even more potato diversity exists in the thousands of remote communities across the Andes in Peru and Bolivia where landrace (locally adapted) varieties are still being grown and are continuing to adapt. We are at risk of losing foods before we understand how important they are Read more In Oaxaca, southern Mexico, growing in a high-altitude village called Totontepec, is one of the world’s strangest and most mysterious food crops. This rare type of maize, called Oloton, has roots above ground as well as below and oozes a gooey microbial mucus. Few other crops grow in the mountainous village and the Mixe people who tend them have no access to fertiliser, but this corn seems to flourish. In 2018, scientists discovered that the mysterious mucus is the plant’s way of feeding itself – it contains microbes that pull nitrogen directly from the surrounding air. In short, it’s a self-feeding plant. In a world awash with artificial fertilisers (which emit greenhouse gases and contribute to climate change), this crop, nurtured by indigenous people over thousands of years, could be an important part of all of our food futures. It is possible to drink diversity... but it's getting harder and harder to do Read more More than 1,500 grape varieties have been recorded, many of which are indigenous, ancient and highly adapted to their local environments. But it’s estimated that about 80 per cent of all vineyards now grow just ten or so ‘international’ varieties – the likes of Chardonnay, Merlot and Syrah, which started to dominate winemaking in the 1960s. In Georgia, in the Caucuses, thought to be the birthplace of wine, farmers are working to restore the 500 indigenous grape varieties that were almost lost during the Soviet era when the regime dictated only five grape varieties could be grown. There, the qvervi, a large clay vessel which is buried underground (the predecessor of the barrel) is still used to ferment grapes and make wine the original way. We can save the diversity disappearing from our oceans Read more Sailors used to provide tales of seas so full of fish it was hard to navigate boats through the shoals. In the last century, we’ve emptied the oceans of such abundance. But we now have the know-how to help replenish the seas – by creating Marine Protection Areas. The success of these ocean sanctuaries has been repeated again and again across the globe, including in Cabo Pulmo on the west coast of Mexico, which had been all but emptied of fish during the 1980s and was revived after local fishing communities decided to stop fishing and create a protected zone. Within a decade, the biomass of fish increased by nearly 500 per cent, close to what it would have been like if it had never been fished in the first place. Food power is concentrated in fewer and fewer hands Read more The source of much of the world’s food – seeds – is mostly in the control of just four corporations; half of all the world’s cheeses are produced with bacteria or enzymes manufactured by a single company; one in four beers drunk around the world is the product of one brewer; most global pork production is based around the genetics of a single breed of pig; and just two companies control the genetics of most of the world’s commercial chickens. The 'centres of origin' of our food are at risk - and that matters to us all Read more Eat an apple and wherever you are in the world, whatever its shape, size, colour or taste, its origin can be traced back to the Tian Shan, the snow-tipped ‘heavenly mountains’ that separate China and Central Asia. The wild trees that cover its slopes here are a living gene bank. As the birthplace of the apple, the biodiverse Tian Shan holds the past, present and future of one of our most popular fruits. But vast sections of the wild forest have disappeared (cleared for industry, housing and agriculture). With the loss of each wild apple tree, the fruit’s living gene bank is being depleted. Losing diversity risks unleashing more zoonotic diseases Read more We’re not just relying on a few varieties of a small number of plants for our food, we’re also banking on just a few breeds for most of our meat. The 80 billion animals slaughtered each year are increasingly from a small selection of genetically uniform, faster growing and bigger animals; just three breeding lines dominate global poultry production; and most pork is based around the genetics of a single pig, the Large White. In dairy, more than 95 per cent of America’s dairy herd is based around one breed of ‘super cow’, the Holstein (and most of these animals can be linked back to a handful of males). Creating larger and larger industrial units filled with thousands of genetically identical animals is a perfect environment for zoonotic diseases to evolve and spread. The future of coffee depends on exploring diversity Read more Most of the coffee we drink today comes from a handful of plants shipped out of Yemen in the 17th century. Coffea arabica (which grew and still grows wild in Ethiopia) was the first coffee to be cultivated and is now the most widely grown and consumed. But we’re at risk of losing it. Because of its history and narrow genetic base, a cultivated Arabica plant today has a fraction of the gene variation of one found in the wild. In the face of climate change, water shortages and a disease that’s wiping out coffee crops across the world, Arabica might not have a big enough toolkit to adapt fast enough, or even at all. Luckily, other species of coffee do exist (so far, 120 have been discovered and named), but we are in a race against time to find them before they go extinct. One is stenophylla, an endangered coffee which used to grow widely in Sierra Leone, with a flavour said to be as good if not better than Arabica. Change must happen... and it can happen Read more Every minute of every day, a million dollars is spent on agricultural subsidies around the world, whether that’s for planting more soy in the Cerrado, more monocultures of maize in North America, fields of homogeneous wheat in Europe, or sending out more boats to already overfished waters. This is public money, our money, and it is supporting a system that isn’t resilient, healthy or sustainable. The world’s current food system is contributing to climate change, deforestation and waste. A more diverse food system could help solve many of the problems we face. There are inspirational people around the world (farmers, chefs, cheese- and wine-makers, seed savers) already fighting for change, preserving their foods, their cooking cultures and protecting diversity for us all. If we all start to learn about the foods being lost and add greater diversity to our food choices we too can start to make changes to the food system. It’s not about recapturing the past but about shaping a better future.
- ABOUT | Dan Saladino
ABOUT Although I was born in Britain, my earliest and most profound food memories all come from Sicily where I spent all my childhood summers with my Sicilian nonna, aunts and cousins. It was here that I discovered how food always comes with a story and how it connects people, not just to each other but to a place. Perhaps it was no surprise then, that when I first started working on BBC Radio 4’s The Food Programme in 2007 and was asked to make my first programme, my mind went immediately to Sicily, where I knew the orange harvest was beginning. It was also here in Sicily that I first discovered, at a meal to celebrate some of Sicily’s rare orange varieties, that there were such things as endangered foods. The Slow Food man sitting next to me told me that the various oranges used to create the meal were on the Ark of Taste, an online sort of Noah’s ark for food. Set up by Slow Food in Italy, the Ark was steadily filling up with foods from across the globe and the stories I found on it – about unique foods, the cultures which created them and the people trying to save them – were spell-binding to me. Ever since, I have sought out stories of endangered foods and when it was suggested to me that I should write a book, it’s these stories that I wanted to tell. Each story stood alone as telling its own tale about the part of the world it came from – it spoke of history, politics, culture, community and flavour. But as I started to write, something started to become clear to me: the diverse foods I was writing about, whether an Albanian mountain cheese, a Georgian qvevri wine, an Orkney variety of barley or a piece of fermented Faorese sheep, were all at risk because of one thing. The homogenisation of food taking place across the world was edging foods that had been created over thousands of years – foods which contained important genetics, disease-resistance, nutrition and flavour – towards extinction. In my book Eating to Extinction, I argue that we need these endangered foods – for our future food security, the good of the planet and the good of our own health. These are precious resources that were a long time in the making. We can’t afford to lose them. GET IN TOUCH My father, Liborio ‘Bobo’ Saladino, was born in south-western Sicily in a small town called Ribera. This is where I spent the summers of my childhood. Ribera was my introduction to farming, to crops and to harvests, and it shaped my thinking about food. On the outskirts of the town, a towering, brightly painted sign proclaims: Ribera: Città delle arance – ‘city of oranges’. For me, arriving in Ribera as a child was like that moment in The Wizard of Oz when Dorothy first realises she’s not in Kansas any more. Coming from the black-and-white food world of 1970s Britain I was dazzled by the MGM Technicolor of Sicilian food. It’s no surprise then that I found the kernel of the idea that eventually became Eating to Extinction in Sicily.
MURNONG Extract from Part One: Wild Murnong - Southern Australia Before European invaders arrived in the eighteenth century, Victoria in Southern Australia was covered in plants of murnong, a crop that grew so thick that from a distance it seemed to form a blanket of yellow. For the indigenous people who lived here over tens of thousands of years, including the Wurundjeri, the Wathaurong, Gunditjmara and Jaara, the importance of this root is hard to overstate. Without murnong as vital sustenance, life here would have been precarious if not impossible. But by the 1860s the food was as good as extinct. From the arrival of the first colonists in 1788, when livestock was offloaded from ships, sheep began eating their way through the landscape. Before the gold rush of the 1850s, a ‘grass rush’ had taken hold across southern Australia. The region had some of the greatest expanses of grasslands in the world but, unlike the Serengeti and the American Plains, there were no migrating animals roaming free and no wildlife to plunder the murnong fields. In the first decades of European settlement, farmers introduced millions of sheep, their numbers doubling every two or three years. Awaiting the sheep were thousands of square miles of pristine grass and vegetation, and the animals loved murnong. The soil was also light and soft, so they could nose their way right through to the roots. They cropped the plants with their teeth and, along with cattle, their hard hooves compacted the soil. In 1839, just five years after the founding of Melbourne, James Dredge, a Methodist preacher who had spent a year with the Tonge-worong people living in a bark hut, recorded in his diary a conversation with an Aboriginal man named Moonin. ‘Too many jumbuck [sheep] and bulgana [cattle],’ Moonin said, ‘plenty eat it myrnyong, all gone the murnong.’ A year later, Edward Curr added in his journal that ‘several thousand sheep not only learnt to root up these vegetables with their noses, but they for the most part lived on them for the first year’, after which murnong became scarce. The state-appointed ‘Chief Protectors of the Aborigines’, the colonists on the ground and in a position to see how quickly things were changing in the Aboriginal territories, were aware of what was happening to murnong. One alerted his superiors to scenes of starvation. In the eyes of most of the Europeans, however, murnong was little more than a weed, and so the indigenous people were left looking on as more livestock arrived and swept through the landscape, eating up their supplies of food. A missionary, Francis Tuckfield, wrote that ‘the Aborigines’ ... murnong and other valuable roots are eaten by the white man’s sheep, and their deprivations, abuses and miseries are daily increasing’. The colonists introduced other invasive species which made the situation worse, including grasses that outcompeted murnong and encouraged yet more grazing and trampling by sheep and cattle. Then, in 1859, rabbits were brought to Australia. If there had been any wild murnong left, the herbivores finished it off. Illustration of murnong by Becky Ripley BACK TO ALL
- Wild Forest Coffee
WILD FOREST COFFEE Extract from Part Nine: Stimulants Wild Forest Coffee - Harenna, Ethiopia All of the coffee grown around the world can be traced back to the wild forests in the highlands of southern Ethiopia. Scientists believe that knowing coffee’s past could be an important part of securing its future. The most important species for coffee drinkers – Arabica - is not only vulnerable to the effects of climate change but it’s under threat from a devastating disease called la roya. The wild coffee trees in Ethiopia’s highland forests and in a small area of neighbouring South Sudan are the main storehouse of genetic diversity for Arabica (just as the wild trees around the Tian Shan in Kazakhstan are the gene pool for the apple). At its simplest, these forests are split into two main regions, east and west of the Great Rift Valley. In the west are the Wellega, Illubabor, Tepi, Bench Maji, Kaffa and Jimma-Limu coffee areas, and in the east, across the Rift, are Sidamo, Bale and Harar. In each of these areas, and in each of the forests, are genetically distinct populations of Arabica. Each area has a unique flavour profile, or even range of profiles. Coffee has an ‘origin’, in the same way the term ‘terroir’ is used for wine, to identify the difference between one vineyard and another. Each of the distinct populations of wild coffee trees has evolved and adapted to its own environment over hundreds of thousands of years. This diversity explains why, in the west in the Agaro region, in the Jimma-Limu zone, coffee may be sweet and subtle, with notes of citrus, tropical flowers and stone fruit (such as peach), whereas coffee from the Bale Mountains is usually fruity and floral but with added notes of vanilla and spice. Each of these coffee areas is also home to different communities. One of the lesser-known wild coffee forests (and one of the hardest to reach) is Harenna, 250 miles south-east of Addis Ababa, set within the Bale Mountains which has some of the highest peaks in East Africa. This is a biodiversity hotspot; thousands of plant species can be found here, along with endangered punk-haired Bale monkeys, lions and the rare Ethiopian wolf. Much of the mountain forest here has been so inaccessible that this biodiversity remained largely undocumented until the end of the twentieth century. Harenna is dwarfed by the Bale Mountain massif, which has peaks of over 4,000 metres, and even in the dense forest where the coffee grows (at 1,500 to 1,800 metres) there’s often a cloud of mist above the high canopy. Harenna might appear to be completely given over to nature but within the coffee forest are villages, hamlets and single smallholdings. The forest is currently home to around 3,000 people, and for most of them coffee is their life. Their livelihoods depend on gathering beans from trees that can be completely wild or semi-wild (tending them makes harvesting easier). The wildest coffee grows on wiry branches of tall, spindly trees; the red, cherry-like fruits are picked and tossed into long, cylindrical straw baskets draped over shoulders. Some of the wild coffee is sold on to traders, but much of it stays in the forest. …But just as we’re realising the value of the coffee genetics in the Ethiopian highlands, the wild coffee trees are under threat. photo by Michela Lenta photo by Michela Lenta photo by Paola Viesi BACK TO ALL
- Sievers Apple
SIEVERS APPLE Extract from Part Six: Fruit Sievers Apple - Tian Shan, Kazakhstan Eat an apple and wherever you are in the world, whatever its shape, size, colour or taste, its origin can be traced back to the Tian Shan, the mountains that separate China and Central Asia. As the birthplace of the apple, the biodiversity of the Tian Shan holds the past, present and future of one of our most popular fruits. Oxford plant scientist Barrie Juniper was one of the first Western scientists to visit the forests after the collapse of the Soviet Union and over the next fifteen years he documented as many wild apples as he could. He was the first scientist to confirm that all domesticated apples originate from the Tian Shan, that it was the gene pool for all the world’s apples. On a sunny autumn morning, I met Juniper at his orchard in Wytham, a picture-book Oxfordshire village with an abbey, thatched cottages and a 600-year-old pub. Completely hidden behind tall walls was a secret garden of one hundred apple trees, some fifteen feet tall, others more like thick untamed bushes. As we moved from tree to tree, picking fruit, Juniper introduced each one: the Newton Wonder, a chance seedling that had been discovered growing alongside a Derbyshire pub in the 1870s that went on to become a popular cooking apple; thin, conical apples named Lady’s Fingers; and Brownlee’s Russet, an apple from the 1840s with an intense acid flesh that tasted of fruit drops, all hidden beneath a scaly, rough skin. ‘Wonderful apple,’ said Juniper, rubbing one clean against his jacket. ‘The perfect balance of sweet and sour and with a skin so thick it kept until Christmas.’ We ate apples that tasted of pineapple (Ananas Reinette) and bit into small russeted varieties that are mentioned in Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Part 2 . ‘“There’s a dish of leather-coats for you,”’ Juniper quoted as he picked out one of the apples. ‘Ugly and rough it might be, but in the sixteenth century this apple was sold from every barrow in London.’ While some varieties became popular because of a chance discovery of a single tree, others were the creation of skilled nurserymen, masters in the art of cross-pollination. By the end of the nineteenth century, people in Britain could eat or drink from a different kind of dessert, cooking or cider apple every day for more than four years and never have the same one twice. The apples in Juniper’s walled orchard capture a big part of the fruit’s great appeal: its diversity and seasonality. In the 1920s, the nurseryman and fruit expert Edward Bunyard wrote The Anatomy of Dessert , providing an eater’s guide to the tastiest varieties, from the strawberry flavour of a Worcester Pearmain to the ‘melting, almost marrow flesh, abundant juice and fragrant aroma’ of the James Grieve. And then there was the Blenheim Orange, an eighteenth-century apple grown from the pip of a discarded apple core that had grown next to the drystone wall of Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire. Luckily, the tree and its fruit were discovered by a tailor named George Kempster (which is why the variety is also called the ‘Kempster’). This apple, said Bunyard, has ‘a nutty warm aroma ... and in this noble fruit [there’s] a mellow austerity as of a great Port in its prime’. Bunyard’s descriptions provide a glimpse into a wealth of diversity that no longer exists. By the 1970s, apple eaters in different parts of the world had the nagging feeling something was missing. ‘Apples, apples everywhere and hardly one to eat,’ declared a newspaper article that went on to say, ‘The big red and yellow plastic spheres, waiting in the market for the unsuspecting, are so suspiciously, so blatantly, thick skinned and shiny, it is easy to pass on by. What we must live on is the memory of what good apples taste like.’ Barrie Juniper in his walled orchard, 2018 BACK TO ALL
- Kavilca Wheat
KAVILCA WHEAT Extract from Part Two: Cereal Kavılca Wheat - Büyük Çatma, Anatolia Over thousands of years, various cultures and empires have claimed the soil of Büyük Çatma, on Turkey’s eastern border. But while different people came and went, a rare source of continuity has been a particular type of grain, Kavilca, an emmer wheat, one of the first plants domesticated by Neolithic farmers, which still grows in the fields around the village. Kavilca is now endangered, but it has been grown over centuries for good reason – it has qualities we can’t afford to lose. It was harvest time, and the last uncut field of golden-yellow Kavilca formed an oasis against the backdrop of the grey-green mountains. The mature ears of wheat were now so heavy they bowed down, their long, protective bristles waving in the wind. Dasdemir walked among the chest-high stalks, picked off an ear and broke it apart. The grains were encased in a tight-fitting, protective shell, a glume. He rubbed it between his fingers. ‘Most wheat gives up its grains easily,’ he said. ‘Kavilca is stubborn.’ Kavilca also produces lower yields than modern varieties. I was starting to wonder why it hadn’t gone extinct long ago. Resilience is part of the answer. The land around Büyük Çatma is high and harsh, a tough place to live, for people and plants. At an altitude of 1,500 metres, temperatures drop to below –30°C in the winter, and heavy snow can close the village off for weeks. During the spring it rains and the air is damp, an invitation for all kinds of diseases to attack crops. Few crops do well here. Kavilca is an exception; it evolved in this environment over thousands of years, adapted, survived and thrived. Dasdemir and the other farmers viewed Kavilca as an inheritance, handed down by their ancestors. ‘We have an emotional connection with this food,’ he said. ‘We love the way the wheat looks in our fields, and the smell and taste of the grain when it’s cooked.’ From the field, we went in search of the only local miller stubborn enough to still work with the stubborn wheat. Erdem Kaya looked tired when we arrived at his mill on the outskirts of the village. During harvest time, he finishes work at one o’clock in the morning and starts again at six. A beanpole of a man, dressed in a green overall, unshaven and melancholy-looking, he lives and works alone. His father had been a miller, he had been born in the mill and it was all he had ever known. The grey-stone mill stands beside the Kars Çayi River, the source of the power for the two large circular grinding stones inside. A sweet smell hung in the air like freshly baked cake. Kaya disappeared up a ladder and pulled a long wooden lever to start the flow of water. The whole room seemed to creak and then sigh as machinery juddered into life, a series of belts slapped into action and the giant stones began to turn. Modern bread wheat is free-threshing which means its naked grains easily come loose from their ears, ready to be milled into flour. Because of their tough hulls, Kavilca grains have to be milled twice. The first step removes the husks. After these outer shells have been separated (winnowed away), a second round of grinding breaks the grains into tiny pieces, leaving it looking like fine shingle on a beach. It is the most difficult wheat Kaya works with, but also the most satisfying. ‘When they cook with it in the village, I can smell it from the mill,’ he said. ‘That’s not true with the other grains.’ He handed us a sack of Kavilca and we left him to his work. The aroma Kaya described wafts from a variety of traditional Anatolian dishes that feature Kavilca, one of which was cooked with the grains we had collected from the mill. Back in the village Erdal Göksu and his wife Filiz, also farmers, roasted a goose on top of the cracked wheat so that its fat dripped down and cooked the grains. Filiz moved around the kitchen, a white, embroidered scarf covering her head, and added bowl after bowl to the table: cream and soft cheeses, pickled cabbage, peppers stuffed with spiced lamb and, at the centre of it all, a large dish piled with Kavilca shaped into a ring, its brown grains glistening with the fat and juices from the goose, with flakes of tender, buttery meat in the centre. The grains tasted rich, nutty and satisfying. ‘This is a taste we recognise deep within us,’ Filiz said, ‘we feel it in our bodies.’ Standing in a field of Kavilca in Eastern Anatolia Kavilca wheat Erdem Kaya, the miller Erdem's mill BACK TO ALL