#177 Eating to Extinction. How to Save the World’s Rarest Foods with Dan Saladino

14 Dec 2022

Have you ever eaten a Murnong? Or maybe an O-Higu Soybean? Or perhaps a vanilla orange?

Perhaps you’ve heard of an Alb lentil from Swabia in Germany or maybe the Oloton maize from Oaxaca in Mexico?

If you’re anything like me, somebody who truly loves food and regards themselves as a bit of a food buff, you won’t have heard of any of them!

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To paraphrase my guest on the show today, food journalist Dan Saladino, of the 6,000 plant species humans have eaten over time, the world now mostly eats just 9. 3 of them – rice, wheat and maize – provide 50% of all calories. Add potato, barley, palm oil, soy and sugar (beet and cane) and you have 75% of all the calories that fuel our species. As thousands of foods have become endangered and extinct, a small number have risen to dominance.

And it’s killing us.

The lack of diversity on our plates affects our health and the systematic stripping out of crops adaptive mechanisms, the result of 1000s of years of adaptions, renders them exposed to parasites, pests and disease.

But Dan provides a dose of hope. The green revolution completely changed our agricultural climate in a post war world. Will rising food prices, climate instability, rising rates of chronic illness and our crops vulnerability to disease force another revolution?

Dan Saladino is a food journalist and broadcaster. He joined The Food Programme in 2006 and for more than a decade has travelled the world recording stories of foods at risk of extinction – from cheeses made in the foothills of a remote Balkan mountain range to strange red varieties of rice in southern China.

His book, Eating to Extinction, is a journey through the past, present and future of food, a love letter to the diversity of global food cultures, and a work of great urgency and hope.

He meets the pioneering farmers, scientists, cooks, food producers and indigenous communities who are preserving food traditions and fighting for change. All human history is woven through these stories, from the first great migrations to the slave trade to the refugee crisis today

It’s won Fortnum & Mason Food Book Award 2022, The Guild of Food Writers Food Book of the Year 2022 and many more.

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GUEST: Dan Saladino

Dan Saladino is a food journalist and broadcaster. He joined The Food Programme in 2006 and for more than a decade has travelled the world recording stories of foods at risk of extinction – from cheeses made in the foothills of a remote Balkan mountain range to strange red varieties of rice in southern China. He has won numerous awards for his work, including the Guild of Food Writers Winner for Best Food Broadcast in 2015 and 2017, and twice at the Fortnum & Mason Food & Drink Awards. In 2017, he was listed in the Progress 1000: London’s Most Influential People.

with Dan Saladino
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