Our Narrowing Food Tree

From NatGeo:


  1. Esteban says:

    Did we ever really need 338 varieties of musk melon?

  2. Cliff Elam says:

    It's a musk have for the urban yuppie…


  3. Biodiversity is essential in case certain varieties get destroyed by disease, climate change, etc.


  4. Mike JFL says:

    Please let there be a store in the US that has all of these 100s of different varieties of everything, all for sale, all at the same time.

  5. I'll bet a lot of those lost varieties have very poor yields compared to the ones that are still in use. I'll bet a few of the lost varieties also had resistance to an as yet unencountered pathogen.

    But which farmer is going to take the financial hit to plant the lower yield variety?

    Which bank CEO is not going to issue subprime mortgages when their competitors are all doing it and yielding higher quarterly earnings?

    Efficiency/Fragility vs Inefficiency/Robustness recurs again.

    • “But which farmer is going to take the financial hit to plant the lower yield variety?”

      All the more reason why urban farming can offer a place where the less robust varieties can have a place to survive (not to mention all the other advantages of growing your own vegetables and fruits).

  6. It's the Mcdonaldization of produce. We want our fruits and vegetables to all taste the same, each and every time.

  7. Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!

  8. That says more about the "National Seed Storage Labratory" than availability of seeds. The fact that the vault has limited selection doesn't meant they can't still be easily located.

    Burpee alone has 29 varities of corn.

    I don't have the seed saver's yearbook in front of me, but I'd be shocked if they had less than 100 varieties.

  9. John_B_in_DC says:

    I'm a little confused by the graphic. Is it saying that 100 years ago there were 288 varieties of beet available and now there are only 17, or is it saying that out of those 288 only 17 remain? I think the latter, but in that case it's a bit misleading because it's not taking into account how many varieties are now available, some of which were not around 100 years ago. Why SHOULD those 288 varieties still be around? Have any of them been replaced by better ones? Is there as much diversity among the currently available beet varieties, or less?

    BTW it's also comparing (1) varieties offered for sale in catalogs 100 years ago to (2) varieties whose seeds are now in a particular laboratory. This is a seriously flawed comparison. How exhaustively has that laboratory collected seeds? Are any of the varieties from 100 years ago still being listed in heirloom seed catalogs, or still being passed around as heirloom varieties but without being listed in any catalog?