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Food Organizations Join Forces to Reintroduce Neglected Crops to Global Ecosystems

This year may be the time to try some fruits and vegetables that you haven't heard of because they typically don't make their way into grocery stores or farmers markets. Some farmers depend on these neglected and underutilized crops to both feed their families and restore economic and biological diversity to their communities.

Over the last century, government policies and large food producers have prioritized farming practices that grow crop varieties with high yields.

  • Today corn, wheat, and rice make up over 50 percent of plant-based nutrition.
  • Out of 30,000 global edible plant species, only 30 species are used to feed people providing 95 percent of the world’s calories and out of 30,000 species of edible plants, humans cultivate less than 150 of them.
  • Crop biodiversity is an important aspect of farming in order to protect against plant disease and to also provide balanced nutrition.

In response to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals for 2030 outlined by the United Nations, the Crop Trust launched The Food Forever Initiative as a way to highlight the importance of crop and livestock diversity

Diversity in food is important not only for crop rotations but also for human health. Food organizations realize the importance of biodiversity in food crops and are beginning to raise awareness about this issue.

Food+Tech Connect produced an entire editorial series celebrating entrepreneurs, farmers, and researchers who value biodiversity in food. The Future Market published a deep dive report on crop diversity and its direct impact on consumers and growers. The Crop Trust launched the Food Forever Initiative to revitalize some of the world’s forgotten foods. And the Lexicon of Sustainability partnered with 16 organizations, including Food Tank, to shine a spotlight on underutilized yet nutritionally valuable crops through an extensive campaign called the Rediscovered Food Initiative.

Food waste is one of the biggest challenges facing attempts to fix our food system. Nearly 40% of all food produced is never eaten. There are inefficiencies in production, distribution and even by consumers, as anyone who’s had to clean up the back of their fridge knows (if you’re interested in food waste, check out on the subject here).