Food diversity is an important factor in global food security. Food Diversity Day is a British event that offers lots for Australians to learn too.
Hello lovelies – I just wanted to slip into your inbox to tell you about Food Diversity Day, a brand new British celebration of endangered foods and the importance of food diversity. Coming up this Friday (13 January 2023) it’s the brainchild of BBC “The Food Programme” presenter Dan Saladino. He’s the author of Eating to Extinction, an exploration of some of the world’s most endangered foods (including Murnong, an important indigenous food from Australia).
The event is British-based, but I have no doubt there will be plenty we here in Australia can learn from it. It features some of the UK’s leading scientists, writers, chefs, farmers, campaigners and entrepreneurs who will be taking part in a continuous feed of discussions, storytelling and information sharing. The sessions will be made available for free via Eventbrite, live-streamed on YouTube and available to view after the event – so you can catch up at your convenience.
Why does food diversity matter?
It’s no secret that the world of food is changing. We’re seeing a decline in food diversity worldwide. But why does this matter? And how can we help promote biodiversity in our diets?
Food diversity is important for our health and nutrition. Eating a wide variety of foods ensures that we get all the nutrients we need to be healthy. Science is increasingly discovering more about the nutritional attributes of the fresh food products we eat. Every time we let a different strain of a plant die out, we are potentially losing micronutrients that support our health – not to mention a broader range of flavour profiles for our palates.
Food diversity is also important for the planet’s future. As populations climb and climate change affects weather patterns around the world, we’ll need plants that are adapted to different regions, will aid soil health, withstand changing weather conditions, and have optimum nutrition levels.
Why is food diversity decreasing?
Many factors contribute to the loss of food diversity, and here in Australia much of the limitations on what different strains we can buy are dictated by the regulations imposed by the two major supermarket chains.
However, there are two other major factors that impact globally:
- Genetic modification allows for the creation of new crops that are more resistant to pests and disease. While it is an important tool in feeding the planet, there are definitely some issues around wholesale hybridisation that need examining. Take wheat for example, a topic I briefly touched upon in this post. Wheat is one of the world’s largest food crops, but most strains grown are hybrids, created for yield and to meet the requirements of commercial food manufacturers. Taste, nutrition levels and regional soil health are not among the attributes considered.
- Monoculture is another problem, and while it can increase yields in the short term, it weakens our food systems. This global reliance on limited crop strains makes them more susceptible to problems like disease, leaving whole populations without any fallback position when other more robust and diverse strains have been allowed to die out.
Understanding food diversity is vital for our future and for the planet’s future.
Understanding food diversity, and arming yourself with the knowledge around it is empowering. It’s not just about what we eat; it’s about how well and how sustainably we can eat. It’s about familiarising yourself with the issues around food production and reclaiming some decisions around what you put in the mouths of your families.
Food diversity is important – if you eat, then you need to care about it. Which is why I’m encouraging you all to check out Dan Saladino’s Food Diversity Day.
From grain diversity to livestock breeds, there will be so much presented at this event to consider and discuss – head to their website and check out these important sessions.[mc4wp_form id="16750"]