Need some good news? Grassroots efforts –largely free of governmental, multinational corporations and national philanthropic foundations– have increased the diversity of cultivated food plant varieties in the U.S. food system from 9720 varieties in the mid-1980s to 21,640 varieties in the mid 2010s. THAT’S 2.2 TIMES MORE FOOD PLANT DIVERSITY THAN WHAT THERE WAS IN OUR FIELDS, GARDENS, ORCHARDS AND TABLES 30 YEARS BEFORE!
We have gone from just 375 non-profit and micro-enterprise seed and nursery outlets in the U.S. in the mid-1980s to over 500 vendors of these open-pollinated, heirloom and heritage plants over those three decades of conservation and innovation. Those 133 more vendors of food biodiversity have no doubt created thousands of new jobs in rural and urban areas in need of green livelihoods.
While food biodiversity has declined in much of the world as diets have been homogenized and commodified, a powerful counter-rend is moving us toward healthier eating as well as diversified farmlands and urban gardens.
-Gary Paul Nabhan