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Jim Richardson: “Heirlooms: Saving Humanity's 10,000-year Legacy of Food”

“…For 9,900 years,” Richardson said, “we’ve been building up variety in domesticated crops and livestock---this whole wealth of specific solutions to specific problems.  For the last 100 years we’ve been throwing it away.”  95% is gone.  In the US in 1903 there were 497 varieties of lettuce; by 1983 there were only 36 varieties.  (Also changed from 1903 to 1983: sweet corn from 307 varieties to 13; peas from 408 to 25; tomatoes from 408 to 79; cabbage from 544 to 28.)  Seed banks have been one way to slow the rate of loss.  The famous seed vault at Svalbard serves as backup for the some 1,300 seed banks around the world.  The great limitation is that seeds don’t remain viable for long.  They have to be grown out every 7 to 20 years, and the new seeds returned to storage.…"
-Stewart Brand's summary of Jim Richardson's talk in San Francisco last Wednesday: http://longnow.org/seminars/02012/feb/22/heirlooms-saving-humanitys-10000-year-legacy-food/


Kay L. Davies said...

Amazing numbers. 497 down to 36. 544 down to 28. And animals becoming extinct almost daily.
I often want to cry for the children being born into this world today.

Island Woman MJ said...

"I often want to cry for the children being born into this world today." Yes, Kay. Sometimes it feels like crying out in the wind. I'm having a really hard time dealing with the apparent lack in 'general' interest in our food supply and what seems like willful ignorance among people I'd think would care deeply. Maybe it is the overall craziness and plethora of issues demanding our attention but what could be more important than the tainting/poisoning of what keeps us alive?

salviadorii said...

Island Woman MJ--Your comment is incredibly well put.Thank-you.

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