The ark of taste
Where heritage meets biodiversity.
The Ark of Taste is a living catalog of delicious and distinctive foods facing extinction. By identifying and championing these foods, we keep them in production and on our plates.
Agricultural biodiversity and small–scale, family-based food production systems are in danger throughout the world due to industrialization, genetic erosion, changing consumption patterns, climate change, the abandonment of rural areas, migration, and conflict.
The Ark of Taste invites everybody to take action: In some cases, products need to be rediscovered and put back on the table, and producers need to be supported and to have their stories told; in others, such as the case of endangered wild species, it might be better to eat less or none of them in order to preserve them and favor their reproduction.
Plant a Seed 2020
The Ark of Taste is a tool for farmers, ranchers, fishers, chefs, grocers, educators and consumers to seek out and celebrate our country’s diverse biological, cultural and culinary heritage. You can help increase awareness of this catalog by becoming an Ark of Taste ambassador — whether you cultivate Ark of Taste varieties in your farm or garden, cook with them in your kitchen, or organize a field trip to learn about Ark of Taste varieties from growers and stewards of these culturally and historically significant foods in the places where they thrive.
Ark of Taste in the USA
Since 1996, more than 3,500 products from over 150 countries have been added to the International Ark of Taste. Over 200 of these foods are from the USA, and we are always seeking more edible treasures to include.
Produced in limited quantities, these foods will not be around in another generation or two without immediate action. Risk factors may be biological, commercial, or cultural.
Whether an animal breed, baked treat, fruit, spice, grain, or beverage these foods are prized by those who eat them for their special taste.
No engineered foods here. These foods are linked to the place and the community that protects them. Everything on the Ark of Taste has the potential to be grown, raised or produced without harm to the environment.
To keep these foods’ traditions alive takes many hands. No commercial or trademarked items are allowed on to the Ark of Taste, only foods that anyone may champion, produce, share or sell.
If you’re passionate about promoting and protecting our world’s biodiversity, connect with others who share that passion! Find your nearest chapter to connect with leaders there and find out more about how to support the Ark of Taste on a local level.
You can also become a member of Slow Food USA and support the Ark of Taste at the national and international level.
If you’re curious about any resources or seed varieties in your area, find and contact your local Ark of Taste Representative—see the list below!
THE SEED COMPANIES BELOW HAVE MADE MANY ARK OF TASTE SEEDS AVAILABLE. FIND YOUR FAVORITES AND PLANT YOUR ARK OF TASTE GARDEN TODAY!
THE ARK OF TASTE COMMITTEE
The Ark of Taste national committee mobilizes and vets regional Ark nominations, works with Slow Food International for publication, and encourages educational and professional promotion of biodiversity. We are thankful for their expertise and enthusiasm!
Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, Florida
Email: AoT Southeast
Dr. David S. Shields is the Carolina Distinguished Professor at the University of South Carolina and the Chairman of the Carolina Gold Rice Foundation. His scholarship explores three fields: early American literary culture, American performing arts photography and food studies. His history Southern Provisions: the Creation and Revival of a Cuisine (University of Chicago 2015), chronicles the emergence in the 1800s of a distinctive set of foodways along the southeastern coast of the United States. As Chair of the CGR Foundation, Shields provided the research enabling Glenn Roberts and Dr. Brian Ward to recover and put into commercial production classic southern ingredients, such as benne, sea island white flint corn, purple straw wheat, purple ribbon sugar cane, the Carolina African runner peanut and the Bradford watermelon. In autumn 2017 the University of Chicago Press will publish his collection of 175 biographical sketches, The Culinarians: Lives and Careers for the first Age of American Fine Dining.
Since 2013 Dr. Shields has chaired Slow Foods Ark of Taste committee for the South. He is the sole author or editor of eleven books and he edited the scholarly journal Early American Literature for a decade. In 2016 he won the Southern Foodways Alliances Keeper of the Flame Award.
Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware
Email: AoT Northeast
Mimi Edelman has been a volunteer with Slow Food USA for nearly 14 years both in chapter leadership and as co-chair of the Northeast New England Ark of Taste committee. Mimi operates I and Me farm on leased land in Westchester County, NY. Stewarding the land with organic and biodynamic practices, the farm partners with chefs invested in a RSA (Restaurant Supported Agriculture) collaboration. From sourcing responsible seed to harvest the chef’s and staff become a vital part of the season experiencing both its rewards and challenges.
Jeff is a Community Seed Organizer with the Community Seed Resource Program through Seed Savers Exchange and Seed Matters and presents sustainability workshops through the Stockton Center of Successful Aging at Stockton University in Pomona, NJ. He is an artist and activist who founded the Library Seed Bank in 2014 where he works with public libraries and community groups to establish seed lending libraries in southern New Jersey. Jeff has a B.A. is in the fine arts, and recently blended his art and activism with a series of propaganda posters about food sovereignty, and local heirloom varieties of food.
Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, Missouri, Iowa, Minnesota
Email: AoT Midwest
Jennifer Breckner is a writer, educator, event producer and public speaker at the juncture of food, beer, art and culture. She combines her background in nonprofit management and art history with her passion as an enthusiastic eater, avid cook, amateur gardener and sustainable food advocate and has worked with organizations including The Art Institute of Chicago, The James Beard Foundation, Chicago Humanities Festival and Food Tank.
For nearly a decade shes served as a Slow Food leader, first as a Chicago chapter leader where she led the Farm Roast, the annual fundraiser featuring Ark of Taste dishes created by local chefs. Breckner is currently chair of the Midwest Ark of Taste committee, promoting agriculture biodiversity through the Slow Food Ark of Taste. Passionate about craft beer, she was appointed an American delegate to Slow Food Internationals Terra Madre conference in 2012 and 2014 where she participated in a host of beer tasting workshops that opened up her interest in the culture, history and gastronomical potential of this beverage.
Rocky Mountain Southwest
Texas, Oklahoma, North Dakota, South Dakota, Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, Wyoming, Arizona
Email: AoT Moutain Southwest
Gay Chanler is a professionally trained chef by trade, with an MA in cultural anthropology from Northern Arizona University.She is a former a Slow Food USA chapter co-leader in Flagstaff, AZ and served as Presidium Coordinator for traditional Navajo sheepherders who raise the vanishing heritage breed, the Navajo-Churro sheep. This nine year project brought the Navajo-Churro lamb to regional restaurants and CSAs, and led to the film A Gift From Talking God- the story of the Navajo-Churro sheep, which she co-produced. She is a gardener of Ark of Taste vegetables, has been a culinary instructor, writes about food for Edible Phoenix magazine and loves to cook for friends and family.
Marilyn joined the Slow Food Denver board in early 2009 and served as the Board Chair in 2013-14. During that time, she helped the chapter grow and evolve into the premier food organization in the Denver Metro area. Slow Food Denver is best known for the school garden program, but their outreach has extended into the community through the CAF microgrant program; the farm tour series; cooking, canning and baking classes; and close collaborations with other organizations such as Denver Botanic Gardens, Denver Urban Gardens, Grow Local, History Colorado and many others. In addition to her work with Slow Food Denver, Marilyn is the co-chair of the Slow Food Southwest/Mountain Ark of Taste committee.
Marilyn is the communications director for American Grassfed Association, in addition to being a writer and book editor. She is the author of four best-selling cookbooks, and her articles have appeared in numerous magazines and online including Huffington Post and CNN.
Peter Ruddock is a sustainable food advocate and small business consultant. He is working toward creating a more sustainable world, by changing the way we interact with our environment and with each other. He concentrates on food systems change, because given that everyone eats everyone should be able to relate to a healthier, more sustainable food system.
He believes that there are four areas where he can best work on fostering this change: educating people about sustainability; creating a resilient local economy; creating vibrant local communities; and changing policies to foster such changes. He is active in a number of grass-roots non-profits to help accomplish these goals: Slow Food, Slow Money, Transition Palo Alto, and the San Mateo County Food System Alliance. He is the Coordinator of the California Food Policy Council. And he is also a co-founder of EcoFarms new Diversity Advisory Group, which is working to make the EcoFarm Conference a more diverse and inclusive place.