Agri-business News Heirloom Tomatoes

Published on May 19th, 2012 | by Becky Striepe

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Food Biodiversity Loss Since Early 1900s

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Heirloom Tomatoes

Biodiversity in our food supply is dwindling, but what can we do to preserve it?

At the turn of last century, farmers and gardeners could choose from hundreds of varieties of seeds to grow various food plants. Today, those numbers have dwindled to as little as 12.

Biodiversity is important for pest and disease resistance. When you plant a variety of types of, say corn, it’s harder for a single problem to wipe out your whole crop. Thanks to industrial farming, we’re losing that precious biodiversity.

We’ve shared this graphic from National Geographic before, but the folks at ProPublica included it in their list of best reporting on food safety, and I thought it bore sharing again.

food biodiversity

Click to view a full-sized version.

Preserving Biodiversity in Our Food Supply

Our food supply’s dwindling biodiversity is a systemic problem, but as consumers there are some ways that we can vote with our wallets and show producers that we want more variety.

  • Just Eat It. If you run across an interesting variety of fruit or veggie that you’ve never seen at the store before, pick one up!
  • Go Local. Small organic farms often plant heirloom varieties of fruits and veggies. Find yourself a local CSA and support farmers who are doing their part to support biodiversity. If a CSA isn’t for you, check out your local organic farmers market.
  • Support a Seed Bank. Seed banks like the Kew Milennium Seed Bank focus on preserving endangered seeds, including those from food plants.
  • Grow Your Own. Next time you’re shopping your favorite seed catalog, look for rare or heirloom varieties of seeds instead of more common hybrids.

Image Credits: Tomatoes – Creative Commons photo by wendyness; Biodiversity graphic via National Geographic

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About the Author

My name is Becky Striepe (rhymes with “sleepy”), and I am a crafts and food writer from Atlanta, Georgia with a passion for making our planet a healthier, happier, and more compassionate place to live. My mission is to make vegan food and crafts accessible to everyone!. If you like my work, you can also find me on Twitter, Facebook, and .



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