Cheerful but Depressing Infographic

Cheerful Seeming but Oh So Depressing Infographic*

National Geographic has an article about seed saving and the importance of biodiversity in the food supply: Food Ark. I know many of our readers are seriously savvy on such subjects, so the material may be too basic for some of you. But for those of you who are new to the subject, or want to share with others, this is a good overview.

And as always, National Geographic is best at the pictures. Attached to the article are several photo galleries. These are my favorites:

Potato Porn
Chicken Porn 

*If you can’t read the infographic labels, it is comparing the number of seed varieties found in seed catalogs in 1903 (upper register) with the current number of varieties in the National Seed Storage Laboratory in 1983 (lower register). An astonishing loss of biodiversity over an 80 year period. This is one of the ways in which the 20th century really sucked.

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  1. All the more important reason to promote heirloom varieties and seed-saving techniques. I’d love to see the neighborhood with 10 different home gardeners and all growing a different tomato. 🙂

  2. Do you think it is possible that some of these seeds still exist in parts of the country like Appalachia but are not in the seed storage lab? I suppose that is just being hopeful and not realistic.

  3. @Parsimony: I’m sure there’s seeds all over the place that the Lab doesn’t have–but the numbers are still depressing overall. I can only assume that 1903 seed catalog wasn’t inclusive of all varieties available at the time, as well.

  4. With a name like “guinea pig fetus” or “makes the daughter-in-law cry” it’s GOT to be good!

    Thanks for the share. Happy 4th.

  5. thanks for sharing! this is something I can share with my family, it’s a very nice read. Some of those tubers in the potato gallery are actually ulluco and oca, not potatoes. They aren’t even in the same genus. When I was in Peru we ate a LOT of those and they are prepared and grown the same way so it’s easy to get them confused. I had brought some back of a few different colors and had success growing them, but after harvest I left them out and those damn raccoons took all of them. I was devastated. Now I can’t find them anywhere except for pink Oca.

  6. I believe that many of those varieties still exist somewhere, but that many of them died out as newer, more disease and pest-resistant varieties came on the market. More is not always better. Seed Savers Exchange seems to have a lot more varieties than they show in the NSSL. Of course, if you watch “Food, Inc.,” you’ll see just how serious this problem of maintaining pure strains is. Even the pure strains of corn in Mexico are being contaminated by GMO’s. There are very few pure corn strains left.

  7. I read this article when the NatGeo crossed my desk (I work in the library). That graphic really caught my attention as well.

  8. Andrew,

    You can find different varieties of Oca for sale at peaceseeds. I have been trying to track down Ulluoco for a while, its very hard to find a source unfortunately.

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