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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
- Oloton Maize
OLOTON MAIZE Extract from Part Two: Cereal Oloton Maize - Oaxaca, Mexico Oloton maize has been planted and tended by the Mixe people over thousands of years. It’s at risk of extinction before we even fully understand its complexity. The extraordinary potential of this very rare variety of maize is a reminder of why we need to save precious genetic resources. It also shows us how food diversity only exists because of the communities who value them. In the early 1980s, an American plant scientist called Howard-Yana Shapiro climbed thousands of metres to reach remote villages in the eastern highlands of the Mexican state of Oaxaca. The area is home to the Mixe people. No one knew when or how the Mixe had settled in the rugged mountains, and there is little archaeology to explain their history. The soldier and explorer Hernán Cortés, who had conquered the Aztecs, was thwarted by the Mixe. ‘Their land is so rocky that it cannot be crossed even on foot,’ he wrote in 1525, ‘for I have twice sent people to conquer them, who were unable to do so because of the roughness of the terrain, and because the warriors are very fierce and well-armed.’ By the 1980s, just a few Mixe villages were still left in isolation, and when Shapiro reached the top of his climb and walked into one, he was confronted with the strangest plant he had ever seen. The plant was a type of maize known as Olotón, but it grew nearly twenty feet high and had a bizarre, captivating root system. Most plants grow with their roots underground, but this plant also had them sprouting from high up its thick stalks, reaching out into the open air. From these bright orange, aerial roots, shaped like fingers, there dripped a glistening gel. The maize was oozing mucus. Also remarkable was that any maize could grow so high up the mountain and in such poor soil. The Mixe village was so remote that no chemical fertiliser could ever have made it there. The local farmers weren’t even growing the maize in a milpa (from the Aztec term for ‘maize field’). In this traditional system beans are grown alongside the cereal to fix nitrogen into the soil. Somehow, these alien-looking plants were feeding themselves. At least, that was the hunch Shapiro left with; that the strange mucus dripping from roots growing above ground was providing the plant with all the nitrogen it needed. The theory seemed unlikely. It broke all the rules. If it was true then this could be a game changer. Fertiliser costs farmers around the world billions of dollars a year and has great environmental costs, from the energy used to make it, to the greenhouse gases it releases, and the rivers and oceans it pollutes. The problem was that forty years ago, Shapiro had no means of testing his hunch. Other scientists also made the climb up the ‘scorched hill’, but still no one could figure out the glistening mucus. Meanwhile, at the University of Wisconsin a microbiologist named Eric Triplett, who hadn’t seen the maize, or even known of the Mixe village, published a scientific paper in 1996 which set out a radical hypothesis: the ‘holy grail’ of cereals – maize that can take nitrogen from the air and feed itself – was biologically possible and could evolve. Such a discovery, he added, ‘would be of enormous economic value’ and would ‘improve human health’ as it would decrease the amount of nitrate in our water and in our food. For years, Triplett’s theory remained just that, a theory. He did, however, have some advice for any plant explorers setting off in search of this holy grail. Echoing Vavilov a century earlier, if something this extraordinary did exist, he said, it would be found close to the origins of maize, in its centre of diversity where its gene pool was greatest: southern Mexico. BACK TO ALL
- Hadza Honey
HADZA HONEY Extract from Part One: Wild Hadza Honey - Lake Eyasi, Tanzania In northern Tanzania, on the green and brown savannah near the shore of Lake Eyasi, I watched an incredible collaboration between human and bird, Sigwazi, a Hadza, and a honeyguide. Honeyguide birds respond to the twists and twirls of the Hadza’s whistles, special calls that are passed down from one generation of hunter to another as a way of summoning a helper in their hunt for honey, Hadza’s favourite food. As Sigwazi walked, he whistled… This wasn’t a melodious tune, more a series of angular ups and downs on a musical scale, each passage finished with a high-pitched twirl. To my ears there was no obvious musical pattern to follow but something in the bush was paying close attention to this whistle. Noticing movement above the trees, Sigwazi broke into a sprint, weaving through the scrub and around baobab trees as he continued the whistle. A wordless conversation was under way, an exchange between a human and a bird. Sigwazi looked towards the flutter of activity in the canopy, and there perched on a branch was an olive-grey bird the size of a starling. Barring a few flashes of white on its tail, the bird looked plain and unassuming, but after a few more whistles from the hunter, it revealed itself to be exceptional. ‘Ach-ech-ech-ech’ came its reply to Sigwazi’s whistle, signalling that a deal was on. The bird had agreed to lead the hunter to honey hidden among the branches of the giant baobabs. These trees are as wide as they are tall, living for up to a thousand years, fed by a root system so deep that they can access water in periods of extreme drought. Finding a bees’ nest concealed among the baobab’s tall branches can take a hunter-gatherer several hours as they need to inspect tree after tree; with the assistance of a honeyguide, it takes a fraction of that time. The bird’s scientific name captures its talent perfectly: Indicator indicator . Somehow, over hundreds of thousands of years, the two species, humans and honeyguides, found a way of sharing their different skills. The bird can find the bees’ nests but can’t get to the wax it wants to eat without being stung to death. Humans, meanwhile, struggle to find the nests, but armed with smoke can pacify the bees. Theirs is the most complex and productive of any partnership between humans and wild animals. Sigwazi watched as the bird he had attracted with his whistle hovered above one of the baobabs. This signalled there was honey; now it was time for Sigwazi to start climbing. He was short (five feet tall at most), wiry and slim. I figured his physique was the reason he was the member of the group chosen to climb the tree, but I came to realise it was more a question of bravery. Sigwazi was the one least concerned about disturbing a bees’ nest, being stung or, worse still, falling thirty feet to the ground. He handed his bow and arrow to a fellow hunter, stripped off his ripped T-shirt and frayed shorts and removed the string of red and yellow beads from around his neck. By now almost naked, he started to chop up fallen branches with an axe and sharpen them into thin sticks. Baobabs are so soft and sponge-like that hunters can drive these pegs into their trunks with ease to create a makeshift ladder up towards the canopy. Swinging back and forth, Sigwazi made his way up the baobab, forcing a new peg in above his head as he climbed, clinging on, balancing and hammering all at once. As he neared the top of the tree another hunter climbed up behind and handed him a bunch of smouldering leaves. With these, Sigwazi closed in on the nest and immediately launched into a mid-air dance punctuated with high-pitched yelps. Bees were swarming around the honey thief and stinging as he scooped his hand into the nest and pulled out chunks of honeycomb. These rained down on the other Hadza hunters as Sigwazi tossed them below. They cupped their hands to their mouths and started to feast, spitting out pieces of wax as they ate, leaving behind warm melting liquid that tasted both sweet and sour, bright and acidic like citrus. As I joined them I could feel writhing larvae inside my mouth and the crunch of dead bees. The honeyguide bird perched silently nearby, waiting for its share of the raid once the crowd of hunters had gone. Fewer than two hundred Hadza live fully as hunter-gatherers, making them the last people in Africa to practise no form of agriculture. Sigwazi disappearing up a giant Baobab tree to reach the bees' nest Honey was taken back to the camp and shared. BACK TO ALL
- Bear Root
BEAR ROOT Extract from Part One: Wild Bear Root - Colorado, USA In south-western Colorado I met Karlos Baca, a former chef turned teacher and a man on the front line of a food war, teaching indigenous people to survive the American food system by decolonising their diets. He took me to find a plant which had been part of Native American life for thousands of years, an ingredient for cooking with but also a medicine. From the Ute community centre, we drove into the forest of the La Plata Mountain in the southernmost Rockies. We climbed past tall oak trees and silver-trunked aspens thick with leaves turning autumnal orange and red. Above the tree line were miles of valleys and mountain peaks stretching far into the distance, rising and falling across 13,000 feet. Deep in the forest and away from the path, Baca led us to a thick, green plant, with parsley-like leaves and small, snowflake-like flowers. He dug his hands into the earth and gently brushed away the soil to reveal a tangle of roots with a chocolate-brown surface. ‘This one’s young, maybe three years old,’ he said, ‘too young to be disturbed,’ and he patted it back into place. Instead, he passed me a piece of leaf to eat. It tasted of crisp celery and fresh carrot with the added heat of pepper and the numbing sensation of a chest rub. The osha plant can take a decade to mature, at which point indigenous people will harvest only some of its roots, allowing the plant to carry on growing, unharmed. Its leaves can be added to soups or cooked with meat but, as with murnong, the real treasure lies beneath the soil. For thousands of years, the plant’s dark brown, twig-like roots have been used not only as a spice to flavour food but also as a potent medicine. There are stories of animals much larger than humans digging up this plant, chewing its roots and rubbing it into their fur. Which is why it goes by the name ‘bear root’. Legends shared by Native Americans of bears interacting with the root were first put to the test in the late 1970s. A young Harvard student, Shawn Sigstedt (now a professor of biology at Colorado University), had gone to live with a Navajo community in Arizona to study traditional medicine. There, he came across bear root, or osha as they called it. Navajo healers told him how, long ago, hunters learned of the plant’s powers by watching bears wake from hibernation and seek out the plant, dig up the roots and chew them up into a paste which they then rubbed over their bodies with their paws. Intrigued by the story, Sigstedt took his research to a zoo in Colorado Springs and started to feed pieces of osha to two captive black bears. Their reaction to the root astonished him; the animals did exactly as the Navajo described. But as well as chewing the plant and rubbing the puréed root with their paws, they shook their heads and sprayed the osha from their mouths, creating what Sigstedt described as an aerosol effect. Sigstedt spent years studying bear behaviour and analysing the root which had antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal properties. It also contained painkilling chemicals and a powerful insecticide. What Stigstedt had been told by the Navajo in the 1970s weren’t legends, they were scientifically accurate observations. Even a sniff of the tiniest flake of bear root has a distinctly medicinal smell. It packs a menthol punch which leaves you with a sharp, cleansing sensation. Osha is a powerful plant, and it is also a highly regional one, found mostly around the southern end of the Rocky Mountains in the forests of south-western Colorado (it is also called Colorado cough root). One theory is the plant lives in symbiosis with microbes found only in the high altitude of the Rockies and Mexico’s Sierra Nevada, which is why people have so far found it impossible to cultivate. And so indigenous people with access to bear root traded it far and wide, and each tribe who adopted it used it in a slightly different way. The Navajo, Zuni, Southern Ute and Lakota used osha to treat stomach pains and toothache; the Lakota smoked the root to relieve headaches; the Tarahumara of north-eastern Mexico, who are legendary long-distance runners, ate bear root to increase stamina and ease joint pain. Further south, Pueblo tribes used it in a concoction they sprinkled across their maize fields to keep pests away; Comanche elders in Oklahoma tied pieces of the root around their ankles to repel snakes, and if they were bitten, they would chew the root into a pulp to treat the wound. The Chiricahua and Mescelero Apache, meanwhile, added the root to stews to spice up the flavour of meat. To some indigenous people, bear root was a sacred plant and the places where it grew were often kept secret. Even mentioning its name was sometimes forbidden in the presence of outsiders. But they couldn’t keep it secret forever… Becoming a lucrative wild medicinal plant has helped it become a species at risk. ‘In the mountains it’s foraged on an industrial scale,’ Baca told me. ‘The Forest Service caught one guy with hundreds of pounds of root in the trunk of his car.’ Indigenous knowledge of wild plants such as bear root is something Baca is teaching fellow Native Americans. Knowing these ingredients provides a gateway to traditional ways of cooking and much healthier diets; it can also help dispel some myths. There are a few foods Americans think of as traditional native staples, the most famous being frybread, dough pancakes that puff up as they’re cooked in corn oil on hot skillets. It’s still cooked in homes on reservations in Arizona and New Mexico where it has a strong association with Navajo culture and is sold as an indigenous street food, often described as an ‘American Indian food’. But ‘Navajo frybread’ was never a traditional food – it was created 150 years ago out of desperation. Karlos Baca cooking with students Karlos Baca urban foraging for prickly pear BACK TO ALL
- 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. Play Video Facebook Twitter Pinterest Tumblr Copy Link Link Copied I recommend taking a look at Food Revolution , an impressive series on the major global food issues, produced by the Financial Times. A few months ago I was invited to contribute to the film in the series which focuses on growing calls for crop diversity and to add some of the ideas and stories featured in Eating to Extinction . The FT’s idea for the film is that, ‘Mass agriculture has embraced uniform, monoculture crops that can produce greater yields, but can also be more susceptible to disease. Now researchers and some growers are warning that diversity must be encouraged, to make the food system more resilient to threats like pests and climate change.’ As you’ll see, the FT's Neville Hawcock picks up the story. As well as me, there are appearances from Katie Hastings (Wales coordinator for the Gaia Foundation’s seed sovereignty programme), the brilliant Dr Catherine Howarth (Aberystwyth University) and the inspirational farmer, Gerald Miles (on bringing back endangered and rare black oats). 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...
- 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'
- 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.
- 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
- 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
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