Environment: Making it better wherever you are
More than spice
Did you know that a mere one hundred years ago, there were fifteen thousand varieties of apples? Now, we are down to fifteen hundred. Should that matter to you or me? Do your taste buds care? How many flavors could your palate handle? I know that I’ve only tasted a dozen or so varieties that I can remember. How would my life be better if I could taste a hundred, or even a thousand different types of apples?
Variety is much more than the spice of life. Biodiversity means our very survival. The RAFT Alliance brings together local farmers, chefs, fishers, agricultural historians, ranchers, nurserymen, and conservation activists to ensure that we keep our ecosystems healthy and our palates educated.
The following is from RAFT’s website: http://www.albc-usa.org/RAFT/index.html
There is an urgent need to maintain the incredible food diversity of North America because of the important ecological, culinary, cultural, and health benefits of biodiversity.
Have you ever eaten a meal rich with juices, flavors, and fragrances that have taken centuries to develop? A delicate, dark red strawberry that was the backbone of the U.S. berry industry, an oily fish that built trade routes in the Northwest, a hot pepper that tells the story of Minorcan immigration to Florida—these are the stories of North American traditions that lie hidden within our foods. Yet many of these foods have been rapidly disappearing from our tables.
With these losses come a decline in traditional ecological and culinary knowledge, and declines in the food rituals that link communities to place and cultural heritage. If these culinary delights persist only in our history books, we will have lost an important cultural legacy and future generations will be deprived of the nutrition and exquisite flavors found in these heritage foods.
Plant and animal diversity sustains healthy ecological relationships and sustainable agricultural practices. This diversity also encourages resistance to pests and diseases, ensuring our food security.
Inherent in a diversity of foods is a variety of aromas, textures, and flavors that increase pleasure and help us along in our pursuit of happiness.
Our daily meals come from the strong hands and creative minds of individuals in food-producing communities. Traditional agricultural and culinary knowledge is passed from one practitioner to the next. This knowledge about how to harvest and cook the plants and animals around us is key to our survival as a species and worth documenting and celebrating.
Getting nutrients from whole foods that are adapted to the regions in which we live and work helps our resistance to disease, particularly diabetes and heart disease.
No one person or organization can fully support the efforts to save America's food traditions. That is why the RAFT partners have developed a variety of integrated projects, blending our respective expertise to develop programs that support farmers, chefs, breeders, producers and our food system as a whole.
Here is a link to RAFT’s current projects: http://www.albc-usa.org/RAFT/ourwork.html