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Noted: Rediscovering Forgotten Foods

Jun 28, 2012

by Chappell Ellison handmade and vintage goods

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.”

Plants and Edibles Category


  • TwinkleStarCrafts

    Judith and Raymond from AnnaOliveDesigns said 4 years ago

    Another thought provoking article, Chappell. Re-introducing these 'forgotten foods' into society can help us get away from the junk food and the chemical additives that are slowly poisoning us. Now we just need for people to become more open-minded about trying them.

  • VoleedeMoineaux

    Hillary De Moineaux from VoleedeMoineaux said 4 years ago

    Very cool!

  • dellcovespices

    David and Patricia from dellcovespices said 4 years ago

    If you've never had a platter of braised Welsh ham, you haven't lived. *drool*

  • FranceGallery

    France Gallery from FranceGallery said 4 years ago

    The Seed Savers Exchange - what a great group!!

  • StringBeardCraftery

    Stephanie from StringBeardCraftery said 4 years ago

    It is soo important to keep food diverse, local, and "slow". So much time and energy is spent creating mass produced, low nutrition, "cheap" food. But it's not really so cheap, some people just aren't aware of the cost yet. I absolutely admire and appreciate any type of seed saving, as we'll be forever in their debt sometime in the future.

  • MegansMenagerie

    Megan from MegansMenagerie said 4 years ago

    That's awesome :)

  • CarpetShopPrincess

    Katie Koshy from carpetshopprincess said 4 years ago

    I like the idea of preserving history, ways of life, and good cuisine, but aren't some foods forgotten for a reason? Let's only remember the yummy ones.

  • vintagewise

    Maya from vintagewise said 4 years ago

    this is really great! Just for fun, I like make recipes from vintage cookbooks & magazines. It's definitely a challenge sometimes, or impossible really, to find some of the ingredients used back then. Yay for diversity!

  • klb00e

    Mother Lark from MotherLark said 4 years ago

    What a great cause!

  • EmiliaFaith

    Edie Ann from OhHoneyHush said 4 years ago

    That's wonderful!

  • EmiliaFaith

    Edie Ann from OhHoneyHush said 4 years ago

    I haven't lived Patricia! I'm coming to your house!! :)

  • windycitynovelties

    Windy City Novelties said 4 years ago

    Great job! Always say, never forget! It's great you are bringing back the forgotten to the public eye.

  • ArigigiArt

    Gina from ArigigiArt said 4 years ago

    Great article! Sometimes I really do not know what to buy, no fruit inspires trust. But I'm too lazy to growing my own fruit.

  • thevicagirl

    VaLon Frandsen from thevicagirl said 4 years ago

    That is interesting. I may have to be brave and try some new old foods.

  • CafePrimrose

    Amanda Gynther from CafePrimrose said 4 years ago

    Wow! This is great! Makes me really stop and think.

  • accentonvintage

    accentonvintage from accentonvintage said 4 years ago

    Great article!

  • comradebananahead

    Neil MacLachlan said 4 years ago

    Meat eating is one tradition I'd wish went away. It's killing our planet, causing unnecessary suffering, and creating super bacteria

  • everythingok

    everythingok from everythingok said 4 years ago

    This makes me so happy. Honest to goodness, I plan the bulk of my holidays around the interesting, sometimes obscure, always incredible regional foods available in the places I'm traveling. One of these days I'm going to make it to the Lyth Valley damson day festival!

  • Iammie

    iammie from iammie said 4 years ago


  • LoveButtons

    Julia K Walton from FireHorseVintageHQ said 4 years ago

    I always like to try a few heritage veg or salad varieties each year. The Heritage Seed Library is a good resource:-

  • wheatleypaperworks

    M Wheatley from wheatleypaperworks said 4 years ago

    Wholesomeness=happiness in life and in food.

  • DeathByVintage

    Jypyse from DeathByVintage said 4 years ago

    Diversity is so important. I remember eating crabapples and wild strawberries as a child. I picked wild watercress from streams and found wild asparagus to be delicious. Great article. I sooo miss my gardens. xoxo jypsye

  • LivingVintage

    LivingVintage from LivingVintage said 4 years ago

    Awesome! Long overdue.

  • OuterKnits

    OuterKnits from OuterKnits said 4 years ago

    Variety is good, and long over due.

  • biophiliadesigns

    Danielle Toronyi from biophiliadesigns said 4 years ago

    this is so relevant and important in the face of globalization of food production. preserving our food heritage is one of the most crucial steps in preserving indigenous cultures and encouraging eco-literacy in the younger generations.

  • KMalinka

    Natalia from KMalinkaVintage said 4 years ago


  • jmayoriginals

    jean from jmayoriginals said 4 years ago

    yay for rediscoveries!

  • PennyBirchWilliams

    Penny Birch-Williams from PennyBirchWilliams said 4 years ago

    We don't realize how the food manufacturers homogenize our choice of foods so we end up eating just a few (profitable) varieties of things. More and more overprocessed, nutrient-poor convenience foods that appeal to our sweet tooths hit the market every year. It's great to see how some people are bringing back the natural foods and traditional preparations from years ago, which are so much better for us and the earth. Here's hoping that it continues to grow and reverse the current situation.

  • my2handsstudio

    Donna from my2handsstudio said 4 years ago

    When I had a farm, over 20 years ago, I actively participated in the Seed Savers Exchange, I still save tomato seeds today!

  • ErikaPrice

    Erika from ErikaPrice said 4 years ago

    Three cheers for great organisations such as Slow Food UK and the Heritage Seed Library! Morecambe Bay shrimps have always been available in Lancashire (in the UK's North West) and they are totally delicious! Thanks to Slow Food, more people can now try them :)

  • tigersanddragons

    tigersanddragons from TigersandDragons said 4 years ago

    I watched a documentary a few years ago about a project to cultivate native plants in the Southwestern USA. The tribes of the southwest used to have these plants as a regular part of their diet, until western influence changed their diet to a heavy one with a lot of beef and cheese.

  • mazedasastoat

    mazedasastoat from mazedasastoat said 4 years ago

    Slow Food UK do a stirling job, long may they continue! As said above, supermarkets don't really exhance our choice of food, as we can only buy what they choose to sell us. Small, regional producers are often ignored & local foods die out. Support your local shops, food processors, farms & growers, so we can continue to enjoy regional delicacies, & make a point of it when to travel to other areas. A large part of the pure joy of travel is experiencing regional foods & McD's are NOT local to anywhere!

  • picturepainters

    picturepainters from PicturePainters said 4 years ago

    It would be great to see forgotten varieties of common foods reintroduced as well, such as the hundreds of different types of tomatos. So many people now grow up not knowing you can get more than 1 or 2 types of a fruit or vegetable.

  • SeventhCloudStudio

    Courtney D. Williams from SeventhCloudStudio said 4 years ago

    Love this article, and the movement! Thanks for posting...

  • fbstudiovt

    Laura Hale from FoundBeautyStudioArt said 4 years ago

    I'm so beyond happy to see this! When I was very small, I discovered a set of craft encyclopedias from the 1970's in my basement and worked my way through every one, spending the next 6 years completing every project. It was the best education I could have asked for! I was heartbroken to enter a world that barely valued the handmade skills I'd honed for nearly a decade. The forgotten food movement is a harbinger of all the other forgotten crafts that are starting to make a resurgence. Long live self-sufficiency!

  • dellcovespices

    David and Patricia from dellcovespices said 4 years ago

    @ Edith -- c'mon over, honey! We've got the martinis and a recipe for that dish that dates back to David's great-great-grandmother. (Warning: Not low fat.)

  • Remakables

    Melody from Remakables said 4 years ago

    In the 1930's the United States Agriculture Department had brochures for home canning and preserving food. These are available still, but you have to dig for them? The Farmers Almanac's of the past as well had a useful variety of unusual garden fare recipes. In the 1960's Adel Davis was ahead of her time in writing her books Let's get Well and Let's have healthy children. It's hard to tell when what we truly wanted turned into corporate raiders, and profit driven madness. But we are returning back to sane behavior. Thanks to people like Chappell, many blessings to your for your wise contributions.

  • CreativeTherapy

    Stefanie van den Brandt from CreativeTherapy said 4 years ago

    In the restaurant where I work we serve a heritage (or heirloom) tomato salad. You should see the customers' faces when they receive tomatoes that are spotty or striped, in different colours and different shapes! I often have to explain to them that tomatoes weren't always just red and perfectly symmetrical. Just like there are more types of apples than only golden delicious and braeburn, but it's hard to find them. So I think it's great that the focus is being redirected to fresh, varied and seasonal food from the past, rather than the processed and standardised food from the present.

  • LittleWrenPottery

    Victoria Baker from LittleWrenPottery said 4 years ago

    I love Damson jam its lovely! Nice to see a resurgence in obscure and traditional foods : )

  • PhotosbyDeniece

    Deniece Platt from PhotosbyDeniece said 4 years ago

    Thank you for this article, no pun intended but it is food for thought :) You have great blog articles and many of us enjoy reading them, keep them coming. Regards, Deniece

  • GoldenSpiralDesigns

    Lola Ocian from GoldenSpiralDesigns said 4 years ago

    I can't recall the exact figure, but I recently learned that a large majority of the veggies that are and have been edible to humans are now extinct. We have chosen to breed certain species for their shelf life, flavor, or resistance to bugs. In doing so, we're losing the variety that once aided our overall health and immunity. This is dangerous! I hope that by reviving lost foods, we may be able to preserve some of that lost variety!

  • heavensearth

    Serena Wilson Stubson from heavensearth said 4 years ago

    wow! great article!

  • metroretrovintage

    metroretrovintage from metroretrovintage said 4 years ago

    Thank you for another excellent article Chappell. There is also the long standing group of "Seeds of Change" -- one of the first practitioners of saving and exchanging heirlooms seeds and ancient grains, many varieties of which have been saved and brought back from near extinction, because of them. Back in the 90's they had a free seed exchange, as do many smaller groups.

  • misseileen

    Eileen Patterson from misseileen said 4 years ago

    Very good article. For years my husband and I have devoted our time (or at least a portion of it) to raising our own produce and meat. So many people have forgotten, or never learned, how to cook healthy, to appreciate natural ingredients, or care where their food comes from. I brought a simple tomato salad to a luncheon and people were amazed at the taste of these heirloom tomatoes. Seeds of Change and Slow Foods should be heralded as heroes for going against the grain and choosing the path less traveled.

  • cutezyclips

    Cutezy Clips from CutezyClips said 4 years ago

    I like the thought of this - my family has a huge garden where we grow foods, and we try to cook healthily as much as possible. This article just makes me want to throw away all the junk food in my house! Inspires me to eat healthy.

  • lauraprill

    Laura Prill from lauraprill said 4 years ago

    would love to see the dye color of the damson plum you described...

  • AlisaDesign

    Alisa from AlisaDesign said 4 years ago

    Great article!

  • anthropomorphica

    Melanie Ashton from anthropomorphica said 4 years ago

    Hopefully, this will also encourage folk to frequent the farmers market and shop locally. Lets hope this is a general move toward eating native produce, it's got to be healthier to eat what actually grows around us.

  • WoodsyWools

    ACR from WoodsyWools said 4 years ago

    Yes, very good... Thanks for the great read!

  • CaliPeachInc

    SHARMAINE SHANELLE from CaliPeachLLC said 4 years ago

    I think this is an awesome ideal!!! However will these seeds be kept organic and out of the hands of Mansato? I would love to eat more produce that was native to my ancestors, it's hard to get something authentic these days. I am really getting interesting in supporting my local farmers markets, since there is plenty of farms in my area.

  • Autaven

    Amanda Brown from BarkingMadBoutique said 4 years ago

    I love this! Such an amazing idea

  • Shalotte

    Naomi from Shalotte said 4 years ago

    Any chance of bringing back Quinces? oh, and greengages and warden pears

  • bradez

    bradez said 2 years ago

    check out more rediscovering topics...

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