The World's Rarest Foods and Why We Need to Save Them
Dan Saladino's Eating to Extinction is the prominent broadcaster’s pathbreaking tour of the world’s vanishing foods and his argument for why they matter now more than ever. Over the past several decades, globalization has homogenized what we eat, and done so ruthlessly.
The numbers are stark: Of the roughly six thousand different plants once consumed by human beings, only nine remain major staples today. Just three of these―rice, wheat, and corn―now provide fifty percent of all our calories. Dig deeper and the trends are more worrisome still: The source of much of the world’s food―seeds―is mostly in the control of just four corporations. Ninety-five percent of milk consumed in the United States comes from a single breed of cow. Half of all the world’s cheese is made with bacteria or enzymes made by one company. And one in four beers drunk around the world is the product of one brewer.
If it strikes you that everything is starting to taste the same wherever you are in the world, you’re by no means alone. When we lose diversity and foods become endangered, we not only risk the loss of traditional foodways, but also of flavors, smells, and textures that may never be experienced again. And the consolidation of our food has other steep costs, including a lack of resilience in the face of climate change, pests, and parasites. Our food monoculture is a threat to our health―and to the planet.