A stunning loss of habitat coupled with monoculture agriculture is leading to wildlife extinction and a loss of biodiversity the world over. While many of us purchase products made from organic ingredients for both health and environmental reasons, the choice to purchase a wider biological variety of food is fairly new. Why is biological diversity so important? Astonishingly, it is not the transportation industry, but our food system that creates the greatest threat to our climate and other environmental problems—from deforestation and desertification caused by the cattle industry’s appetite for more and more land, and loss of biodiversity causing the world’s bee population to plummet, to toxic pesticide run off from monoculture (one crop agriculture) destroying our coral reefs.
The silver lining (yes, I’m alway on the hunt for rainbows!) is that there are exciting signs of new methods, innovations, and products emerging today that are disrupting our food system for the better—from reducing food waste (argued as the #1 carbon contributor) through composting and by upcycling food “waste” into new food products(!) to regenerative agriculture practices that use biodiversity as a key tool for kicking the pesticide habit, building up the soil, and sequestering carbon in the soil that also reverses desertification.
By connecting more of nature to itself and allowing nature to regenerate, it can and will “rewild”, regenerate and reestablish biological diversity.
Regenerative agriculture is also changing what we eat, as more biodiverse plants are grown (again). So, could we eat our way to a more biodiverse planet? The short answer: yes!
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), there are between 20,000 and 50,000 discovered edible plant species, of which only 150 to 200 are regularly consumed by humans in our monoculture food system. Supply and demand economics matter to biodiversity. So, let’s demand more diverse foods.
In addition to donating to “rewilding” efforts and supporting regenerative agricultural systems, farms and ranches, here are 3 of my favorite (of 50 foods) you can start eating right now to help build demand for biodiverse.
3 Tasty Biodiverse Foods To Eat
- Grain: Amaranth
Amaranth is one of the oldest crops, beloved by the Aztecs and Incas for its suspected supernatural properties. Relative to other grains, amaranth’s sandy yellow seed is high in magnesium and protein. It has a mild, slightly nutty taste and gelatinous texture making it ideal for soups, side dishes and risottos.
- Algue: Wakame Seaweed
Algae are nutrient-rich and critical to our existence on the planet. They are responsible for half of all oxygen production on Earth and all aquatic ecosystems depend on them.
Maintaining similar properties to other seaweeds, seaweed can be harvested all year round, grows rapidly without the use of fertilizers or pesticides and supports the water’s biological balance.
Seaweed contains essential fatty acids and are an excellent source of antioxidants and protein. It can be chopped and added to soups or fried and thrown into salads, stir-fries, and side dishes for a salty flavor.
- Vegetables: Pumkin Flowers and Leaves
I had to add this halloween surprise. Turns out pumpkin leaves and flowers are not only edible, but highly nutritious and delicious. The female flowers have tiny fruit attached which can form a pumpkin, while the male flowers don’t. The combination of mild pumpkin taste and soft texture make them the perfect addition to soups, sauces, salads and pasta dishes. Discard the centre of the flower (the stamen) prior to preparation. The flowers are not only colorful and beautiful, they are rich in many nutrients, including vitamin C.
Check out the full list of 50 foods for inspiration. Start by adding one new biodiverse product each week. Eating our way toward diversifying our world is possible, nutritious and thankfully, delicious. Pass it on.
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