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The Slow Food USA Ark of Taste, a catalog of delicious foods in danger of extinction, has just been expanded to include twelve new food products, nominated by farmers, growers, chefs and food enthusiasts from across the country who are concerned about the diversity of our food supply.

Slow Food USA’s biodiversity committee convened in Portsmouth, N.H., to evaluate, taste and vote on each nomination. The committee was tasked with assessing whether or not each nomination met the Ark of Taste criteria. To be “boarded” onto the US Ark of Taste, a food must: (1) be at risk biologically or as a cultural tradition, (2) be linked culturally or historically to a specific region, ethnicity or traditional production practice, (3) have outstanding taste, defined in the context of local traditions and uses, and (4) have sustainable market potential.

Ark of Taste foods are those that have been threatened by market standardization, industrial agriculture, and environmental damage. “This is not only about food diversity but food security,” explains Jenny Trotter, associate director of Slow Food USA’s biodiversity program, “…we will need many different kinds of fruits and vegetables growing in our fields and many livestock breeds on our farms if we are going to be resilient in the face of climate change,” continues Trotter.

Slow Food USA and its partners in the Renewing America’s Food Traditions (RAFT) Alliance are promoting the new concept of eater-based conservation. “We don’t want to preserve foods as museum pieces or only conserve the genetic diversity of our food supply,” said Slow Food USA’s biodiversity committee chair Ben Watson. “We want to get these foods back onto farms, back into the marketplace and back onto people’s tables.”

Twelve food products were selected for the Ark of Taste, including ‘Turkey’ Hard Red Winter Wheat, Lake Michigan Whitefish, the Hauer Pippin Apple, and the St. Croix sheep (from the US Virgin Islands). The Slow Food USA web site tells the story of every Ark of Taste food–its description, history, flavor, and how to source it. Each profile is linked to LocalHarvest.org, which lists producers around the country who grow and sell that food.

To view today’s press release, click here.