Preserve the old varieties, sure

The mission started when Joan Roca, and his younger brothers Josep and Jordi, heard Montserrat Fontané, 86, tell an interviewer how she wanted to revisit her family’s old country home and revisit the dishes she grew up on in Catalonia’s La Garrotxa mountain region.

Yep, OK, madelines of my youth and all that.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation, 75 per cent of crop varieties were lost in the 20th century.


A handful of varieties now make up most of the food eaten in the world today, and millions of people could see their main source of nutrition wiped out by a solitary instance of disease or rot.

The brothers’ search to relocate old varieties such as the Olot black turnip and white aubergine once typical in La Garrotxa is recorded in a documentary which is released online on Wednesday.

The brothers hope the film, called Sembrando el Futuro, or Sowing the Future, will kick-start a global movement among chefs to save dying crop varieties to maintain biodiversity, encourage the use of local produce to reduce transport and rediscover lost flavours.

All is fine except that eat local to reduce transport. Because the transport is a trivial portion of the emissions from the food chain. So trivial that it gets entirely lost in calculations over greenhouse and forced, or sunlight grown, or extra feed needed or just grass fed, or even what form of transport is used to get it back from the shops.

A richer society most certainly can afford to not worry quite so wholly much about yield and sacrifice a bit in order to gain a bit more variety of cultivars. Which, if you look around us or the grocery stores is exactly what is being done.

4 thoughts on “Preserve the old varieties, sure”

  1. The EU struck again…
    All vegetable seed varieties have to be registered before they can be sold in the EU. The cost of doing this became prohibitive for varieties that didn’t have a wide circulation, so many seed companies stopped stocking them.
    As you say regularly Tim – Better off out!

  2. Spinny… one of the most ignored EU regulations…

    As long as it’s not a commercial (EU sized) crop you’re good to go.
    And even then Enforcers know very well they’re at risk of losing their dentures ( original or reserve).

    Not that I will admit to having applied my undoubtedly deeply criminal DNA to some busybodies’ visage, because that would be Uncivilised.
    But I bloody well made sure the chairwarmer in question knew the Option was one of the first and foremost on the table.
    It was, of course, up to Xir to ignore the warning.

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