With more money and time allocated to the production of high-yield, low-cost foods, some traditional foods have become endangered. Several groups are attempting to protect our edible heritage, like the Seed Savers Exchange in Iowa, where seeds are archived and cataloged. Over in the United Kingdom, Slow Food UK has initiated Forgotten Foods, a project that scours the country collecting produce threatened by industrialized agriculture and environmental changes.
In partnership with Booths, a UK supermarket chain, Slow Food UK has reintroduced foods that you might’ve never heard of, like the Lyth Valley Damson, a native English fruit similar to a tart plum that was once used by the wool industry as a dye. Another food back on shelves is the Morecambe Bay shrimp, a food staple of fishing towns in the 19th century that became a fashionable tea time snack in the 1930s. With the help of the Forgotten Foods project, grocery stores have seen sales of Morecambe Bay shrimp rise by 45%.
Slow Food UK continues its progress, saving regional raw milk cheeses, vegetables, ham, and potted fish. Not only is this initiative a means of saving forgotten food, it aims to sustain the local jobs of farmers and harvesters by broadening their consumer base. “It’s extremely difficult to even get that first meeting with buyers from the big supermarkets,” says Irene Bocchetta, protected food names manager at ADAS, a UK-based rural development service. “But things are changing.”