The Ark of Taste is a world wide catalogue of endangered foods that are deemed peculiar to a distinct ethnicity or geographic region, they are basically heritage foods. The 'Ark' was launched in 1996 in Italy by a group known as 'Slow Food ' which still maintains it as the global Slow Food movement. The Ark of Taste strives to maintain foods on its venue by encouraging their cultivation and consumption. Promoting the cultivation and consumption of these sustainable and endangered foods helps to preserve biodiversity in the human food chain.
There are nearly 5,000 foods included, in addition to fruits and vegetables they also include prepared foods and rare edible livestock. Sorry PETA and all you vegans, but most humans are still carnivores, or is that omnivores - we eat everything !
From Ark of Taste
"Agricultural biodiversity and small–scale, family-based food production systems are in danger throughout the world due to industrialization, genetic erosion, changing consumption patterns, climate change, the abandonment of rural areas, migration, and conflict."
"The Ark of Taste invites everybody to take action: In some cases, products need to be rediscovered and put back on the table, and producers need to be supported and to have their stories told; in others, such as the case of endangered wild species, it might be better to eat less or none of them in order to preserve them and favor their reproduction."
What is Biodiversity
Biodiversity is a reference to the vast variety of living species on our little planet. Plants, birds, bees and all animals, bacteria, and fungi as well. In modern gardening we strive to orchestrate the interaction of living things within our little organic microcosms for the end result of a bountiful harvest.
On a grander scale, our 'little' planets biodiversity is so immense and immeasurable that there are many species long since extinct and many species on the brink of extinction, threatening our incredible biodiversity.
STRICT adherence to the biodiversity 'credo' mandates that you only plant and nurture native plant species - as a realist you must come to the realization that very few of the fruits and vegetables you grow are native to your region. Finding a balance helps to meet this criteria of biodiversity at the halfway point.
Seed Saving & Endangered Plant Species
The need to preserve endangered plant speices has been recognized by a number of agricultural groups. One of the leaders in this field is the See Savers Exchange. Their manifesto states,
"Since 1975, we have grown, saved, and shared heirloom seeds and led a movement to protect biodiversity and preserve heirloom varieties. At the heart of our organization is a seed bank that houses a collection of 20,000+ rare, open-pollinated varieties. With gardeners like you, we can get these seeds where they belong—in gardens and on tables everywhere, for generations to come."
They distribute Heirloom and endangered edible plant seeds as well as promote seed saving of Open Pollinated Heirloom vegetables.
Horticulturalists endeavor to save as many varieties of rare seeds as they can. The Seed Underground: A Growing Revolution to Save Food by Janise Ray highlights the practice and importance of seed saving, it's almost the bible of the seed saving revolution. Amazon describes it as ...
"a journey to the frontier of seed-saving. It is driven by stories, both the author's own and those from people who are waging a lush and quiet revolution in thousands of gardens across America to preserve our traditional cornucopia of food "
Symbiotic Gardening Promotes Biodiversity
I prefer to practice what I call symbiotic gardening. Utilizing the natural interactions of various species within my microcosm to their fullest advantage, while avoiding the use of unnecessary chemicals that can and do damage the eco-system. Symbiotic gardening promotes biodiversity in your own little corner of the planet.
Companion Planting is one aspect of symbiotic gardening. It is the placement of various crops in close physical proximity to one another so as to symbiotically compliment each others progress.
Companion planting can be used for ...
Flavor enhancement Some plants alter the flavor of other plants around them. Sometimes for the better sometimes for the worse
Hedged investment Multiple plants in the same space increase the odds of some yield being given, even if one category encounters catastrophic issues.
Fertilization Primarily nitrogen fixation plants, such as beans and legumes which will add nitrogen to soil over time, making it available to other plants. Plants, such as Borage add trace minerals. Plants such as comfrey draw up nutrients from deeper in the ground than other plants can reach.
Pest suppression - Some Plants will repel insects, through natural chemical means. Pest Suppression also involves Trap Cropping, using certain plants to draw pests away from others.
Positive hosting Some plants attract insects or other organisms which are beneficial to plants you are nurturing, as with ladybugs or beneficial nematodes.
Protective shelter Some plants serve as a wind break, or shade from noonday sun, for another.
Organic and Natural Pesticides and Herbicides
Creating a sterile environment by killing off all of the insects in your yard or garden is not all that desirable. A vibrant and healthy ecosystems requires biodiversity, an abundance of microbes, fungi and beneficial insects.
There are a number of Natural, homemade DIY insecticides that work just as well as commercial pesticides and are cost effective as well. There are also organic pesticides available that are environmentally safe when used properly. See: Organic Insecticides
There are 2 types of fertilizers natural organic fertilizer and chemical or synthetic fertilizer. Organic fertilizers are derived from nature when organic material breaks down it becomes the food source for plant life. Synthetic Chemical Fertilizers are harmful to the soil and eco-system over extended periods and there is also evidence that some may not actually do what they claim.
There are many ways to make your own Organic Fertilizers that are not tediously over taxing on your back or wallet. See:Organic vs. Chemical Fertilizers
Beneficial Fungus For Garden Plants
In the ying and the yang of nature, there is a flip side to fungus. Beneficial Fungus - Mycorrhizal fungi have developed a symbiosis with living plants, a mutually beneficial relationship that can be harnessed by the gardener for the end goal of Consistent higher quality yields of fruits and vegetables at diminished intervals. See: Mycorrhizae
Permaculture is closely related to symbiotic gardening and biodiversity. Permaculture Emulates Nature, It is the essence of agricultural sustainability and represents a utopian ambition of managing a new age Garden of Eden, Elysian fields or perhaps Xanadu. See: Permaculture Basics