Eating to Extinction: The World’s Rarest Foods and Why We Need to Save Them

Dan Saladino. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $30 (464p) ISBN 978-0-374-60532-2
BBC journalist Saladino debuts with an illuminating survey of vanishing varieties of food and the people struggling to preserve them. “Of the 6,000 plant species humans have eaten over time, the world now mostly eats just nine,” he writes. This decline of dietary diversity, driven by the demand to produce crops on “an epic scale,” has triggered a nutritional and cultural depletion that’s spanned the globe, as made evident by the sweeping scope of Saladino’s research. He explores populations that still source their food from the wilds, such as the Hadza, a shrinking tribe of Tanzanian hunter-gatherers who derive 20% of their calories from honey. Endangered types of wheat, oats, and crimson-tipped rice are uncovered in Turkey, Scotland, and China, respectively, while red peas—brought by enslaved Africans to the U.S. low country—nearly met their demise at the hand of real estate developers on Sapelo Island, Georgia. In South Korea, a small family farm fights to preserve the Yeonsan Ogye, “one of the rarest chickens on Earth,” completely black in color, down to its beak and bones. The result is an agricultural investigation that’s fascinating in its discoveries while sorrowful in documenting what has been lost. Agent: Mel Flashman, Janklow & Nesbit Assoc. (Jan.)
Reviewed on : 09/08/2021
Release date: 01/25/2022
Genre: Nonfiction
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