The Ark of Taste
The primary goal of Slow Food, through the Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity, is to protect domestic biodiversity (also called agrobiodiversity). This means the vast variety of breeds, like the Karakachan sheep, the Mangalitsa pig, the Busha cattle, as well as the large diversity of plant varieties from the Polyak and the Smilyan beans in the Balkans to the thousand varieties of potatoes and beans in the Andes. Slow Food has three main tools to investigate, sustain and protect biodiversity: one of them is the Ark of Taste.
The Ark of Taste travels the world collecting endangered small-scale quality food products that belong to the cultures, history and traditions of the entire planet: an extraordinary heritage of fruits, vegetables, animal breeds, cheeses, breads, sweets and cured meats…
The Ark was created to point out the existence of these products, to draw attention to the risk of their extinction within a few generations, and to invite everyone to take action to help protect them. In some cases this might be by buying and consuming them, or telling their story and supporting their producers, and in others, as in the case of endangered wild species, this might mean eating less or none of them in order to preserve them and encourage their reproduction.
Nominations for inclusion in the Ark must be food products and may include: domestic species (plant varieties, ecotypes, indigenous animal breeds and populations), wild species (only if tied to traditional methods of harvesting, processing and uses) and processed products. Products must be of distinctive quality in terms of taste. “Taste quality,” in this case, is defined within the context of local traditions and uses. Products must be linked to a specific area, to the memory and identity of a group, and to local traditions. Products must be produced in limited quantities. Products must be at risk of extinction.
It is essential to interpret and apply the criteria taking into consideration the product’s specific local circumstances, always respecting the cultural, social, geographical, economic and political differences of the communities who preserve the products.
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