What is the Ark of Taste?

Fava beans are included in the Ark of Taste catalogue.

The Ark of Taste is part of the Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity and aims to identify and preserve unique economic, social, cultural and culinary heritage in the form of endangered foods. Most Slow Food members practice eco-gastronomy, but Ark of Taste takes it to the next level, actively working to save the rare foods people eat around the world. According to Slow Food International, Europe has lost 75% of its cultural diversity since 1900, and the United States has lost 93%. Thirty plants feed the majority of the global population, which means that culinary diversity and biodiversity are both at serious risk. Under the Ark of Taste program, Slow Food has been working to save rare varieties, from Irish Kerry cattle to Louisiana Taffy Roman sweets.

There are several categories in which foods can be considered in the Ark of Taste catalog to include everything from regional plant varieties, such as a type of fava bean grown only in Santorini, Greece, to Navajo-Churro sheep. The Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity believes that the best way to save rare foods is to eat them, creating a market for artisanal or unusual foods. Culinary biodiversity is vital, and the Ark of Taste addresses concerns that global food supplies could be threatened by heavily engineered plantations. If those crops fail without backups, as they did during the Irish potato famine, when a potato variety dominated Irish agriculture, feeding the world could get much more difficult.

See also  What are white sweet potatoes?

In addition to preserving biodiversity, the Ark of Taste also helps to preserve economic and cultural heritage. Many of the animal breeds listed on the Ark of Taste, for example, have been cultivated for centuries by people who have built their own cultures around the animals they raise. The loss of these animal species would result in a loss to cultural diversity as well as biodiversity. By listing a food on the Ark of Taste, Slow Food can work with producers to save it. The Ark of Taste also hopes to change agricultural policies that are detrimental to Slow Food, such as bans on raw milk cheeses and restrictions on butchers.

The Ark of Taste works to save rare foods through fortresses, small groups that help protect artisanal producers. Sometimes local strengths just need to connect producers to a potential market. In other cases, they may help producers obtain a Denomination of Origin to protect their unique foods, help rebuild agricultural and harvesting facilities, or unite multiple producers in a strong lobby. Presidia around the world work to preserve fruits like the Gravenstein apple in the United States, Kalakukko bread in Finland, Italian cheeses like Aurina Valley Graukase and canned Hár fish from Turkey.

Leave a Comment