Mothers have been admonishing “Eat your vegetables!” for centuries. And with good reason. Humans can live well on a plant-based diet, especially in times past (and even present) when meat has been too dear to afford, or even unavailable.
But our life-sustaining supply of plant diversity is dwindling at an alarming rate. In 2011 Prof. Charles Godfray of the University of Oxford stated “We’re losing the biodiversity in our food supply at the rate of one crop variety per day.” In 1903 commercial seed houses offered, for instance, 408 varieties of peas. Eighty years later, only 25 pea varieties could be found at the National Seed Storage Laboratory in Colorado. Read that again and let it sink in.
So what can we do to change this? The best answer is for people like you and me to get to know heirloom varieties of plants, find out who is still preserving and sharing the seeds, grow them in our own yards (even in containers), and learn how to save seeds from them for next year’s crop. With a little curiosity and a few simple steps, together we can preserve diversity in our food crops and gain some food security.
Explore Heirloom Vegetables
Find out why beans truly are a magical “fruit”.
Peas are among the oldest cultivated vegetables on Earth. Find out more about this ancient and delicious veggie.
Get all the details on heirloom lettuce varieties and the story behind them, plus how to find and grow them.