Food Diversity Is Collapsing
Food diversity at risk… But fewer people have heard about another ongoing mass extinction that involves the foods that we eat. More than 75 percent of the fruit and vegetable varieties that humans once consumed have already gone the way of the wooly mammoth and the saber-toothed tiger, according to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization. And half of all domesticated animal breeds have been lost in roughly the past century. Apple historian Dan Bussey says that of the 20,000 named apple varieties that have been cultivated in North America, only 4,000 remain. Thousands of varieties of rice once flourished in the Philippines. Today, less than 100 varieties survive. And similar numbers could be cited for virtually all of our food crops. This massive loss of diversity is - you guessed it - the result of the rapid spread of industrial agriculture and the increasing standardization of the food industry, where unconventional varieties have been squeezed off of supermarket shelves.