Nutritious and gluten-free, this small grain has recently been popularized as a superfood in some countries. The plant has been cultivated since Aztec times, when it was also used in religious ceremonies. More recently, Europeans have mostly used it as an ornamental, but in countries like Mexico, amaranth is once again becoming an important staple.
Food Forever Experience
2020 is the International Year of Plant and Soil Health, and while it’s been an unexpected year for us all, the importance of healthy soil and plants for resilient food systems has perhaps never been more evident.
On 25 September 2020, at Pocono Organics in Long Pond, PA, the Food Forever Initiative used the “Global Day of Action” for the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals as an opportunity to invite chefs, media, farmers, influencers, and consumers to an immersive digital experience designed to raise awareness of the importance of crop diversity and its connection to healthy soils and resilient, sustainable agricultural systems.
Racing to Safeguard Biodiversity: A Digital Solutions Symposium
To kick things off, Food Forever partnered with world-renowned chefs, regional change-makers, business leaders and scientists for a digital solutions symposium dedicated to driving positive change in our food system. The talks featured food influencers such as Chef Dan Barber (Blue Hill), Birgit Cameron (Patagonia Provisions), Cary Fowler (Former Executive Director, Crop Trust) and others to dive deeper into the challenges and opportunities that food systems are facing when it comes to safeguarding and harnessing the power of agrobiodiversity. Specifically, what is required to sustainably source new nutritious and climate-resilient ingredients and increase availability in local, regional and global value chains.
Participants were also the first audience to learn of new research findings presented by Rodale Institute which used this occasion to announce a global white paper that looks at the potential of Regenerative Organic Agriculture to reduce emissions and maximize carbon sequestration in soils – as one solution to the climate crisis.
Meet the Speakers
A Taste of Biodiversity
These chefs are using diverse ingredients grown on farm at Pocono Organics to highlight biodiversity and give a taste of a more resilient, sustainable and delicious food future.
Meet the Chefs
Once known in the Arab Mediterranean as the “chieftain of leafy greens,” the reputation of spinach hasn’t changed much in the centuries since. Spinach remains one of the world’s favorite salad bases or sources of superhuman strength, in the case of Popeye, the cartoon sailor. Fortunately for Popeye, his favorite snack rests on a healthy genetic pool of diversity, with over 2,000 accessions of spinach protected in genebanks worldwide.
There’s nothing like a refreshing watermelon slice on a hot summer day, but before the bright green skins of our market watermelons even appear, the black tail variety is ready for your picnic. Small and fast-maturing, the black tail is among the earliest of all watermelon varieties every year, ready for those that can’t wait.
The kind of variety that challenges your understanding of a given crop, blue jade corn is a unique, deliciously sweet corn heirloom. Peel back its bright green husk, you’ll find striking steel blue kernels. You also will never find this variety sprawling in rows of identical, archetypal husks. Rather, they are most often found sprouting from plastic containers in backyards and patios, a home-grown variety of one of the world’s most important staple crops.
With its tiny but versatile seeds, fonio has been cultivated in the Sahel for more than 7,000 years and is regularly found in West African cuisine. It can be boiled, baked or even brewed into beer. Its resilience in the face of challenging climates, combined with global demand for alternatives to wheat, is now bringing fonio to a much wider audience.
Hemp is fast-growing, thrives in a variety of soils and doesn’t require chemical inputs. It has been a key part of Chinese and Indian diets for centuries and were one of the first plants to be spun into usable fibre, roughly 10,000 years ago. The small, crunchy seeds have a soft, buttery texture and are rich in omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids and can be used as oil, a milk substitute, flour, as meal, sprouted or made into powder.
For the heirloom chili enthusiast, one need not look much farther than Pennsylvania Dutch country. For over 150 years, the Hinkelhatz pepper has been adding a bright, colorful beauty and a hefty kick to local dishes. With strong regional and cultural ties, it’s rarely found more than a stone’s throw from a Pennsylvania Dutch community and are local favorites for pickling and hot pepper vinegars.
With roots in Mesoamerica with all its relative squash varieties, the zucchini is the most celebrated squash first harvested in Europe. Believed to first have been harvested in northern Italy in the 19th century, the zucchini is now a global favorite summer squash, whose fruit and blossoms find themselves in a wide variety of dishes – from soups to deep-fried hors d’oeuvres to oven-baked dessert treats. This Partenon variety is a hybrid, celebrated for its self-pollinating traits, making it an ideal spring variety when the weather often slows down pollination from bees.
A Hazleton, Pennsylvania native, Salvaterra’s Select tomato is a young, flavorful addition to any backyard garden. Circulated within the community since the 1950s, the Select tomato was grown by local seed saver Charles Salvaterra in the early 1980s. Since then, this variety’s tangy, sweet flavor have made it ideal for sauces and tomato tarts.
Tepary beans are native to the southwestern United States and Mexico and have been grown there since pre-Columbian times. They come in a range of colors, including white, yellow, brown, red, pink, black, and some are speckled. Tepary beans can survive in hot, desert-like conditions, and are considered one of the most arid-adapted crops in the world.
Once known merely as “NY150,” potato breeder Walter de Jong stumbled onto the future Upstate Abundance Potato in his trial fields in 2004. Bred as a resilient, high yielding relief for plagued potato farmers in the northeast United States, the Upstate Abundance is now part of the Row 7 Seeds catalog and sold online to chefs, breeders, growers and eaters all over the US. Not only is this potato variety a favorite among growers for its resilience and disease resistance, it also boasts a delicious creamy, nutty and butter flavor.
Photo Credit: Row7Seeds
The digital experience was made possible by the commitment of our partners.