At the grocery store, we see many different types of fruits and vegetables, and there may be even 4-5 unique varieties of apples. We can buy asparagus in January, pumpkins in March, and blueberries in November. Doesn't this mean our food system is stable?
Unfortunately, our food biodiversity is rapidly declining. In 1903, there were 497 varieties of lettuce seed available, but in 1983 only 36 varieties remained. Overall, the study showed a 93% loss in biodiversity of the 66 crops studied - see more in this Infographic from National Geographic.
Why is biodiversity important? To grow our food, we rely on countless other species to pollinate and fertilize our crops. Without them, we could face dangerous food shortages and a complete extinction of fruits like grapes, apples, and olives. Having multiple varieties can also reduce the risk of crop failure - when one variety of tomato may die from pest infestation or blight, another may continue to produce. We must remember that we are a part of a much bigger system, and as it begins to shrink and become unstable, our future may also be threatened.
Check out the short PBS video below for a brief introduction to seed biodiversity and it's role in preserving our Agrobiodiversity as well as our food security and our future:
As you make your weekly trip to the farmer's market, see if you can find a unique variety of your favorite produce to enjoy - spiky romanesco broccoli, purple cauliflower, or bright yellow heirloom tomatoes. Your farmer and the planet will thank you!