Biodiversity, Food and Farming for a Healthy Planet

What does biodiversity have to do with the food we eat?

Biodiversity provides us with a wide range of plants and animals. These species form a basis for nutrition, family and cultural traditions, medicines and ways to learn about and respect the life around us. Over the centuries, farmers grew over 7,000 plants and raised 30 species of animals for food and other uses.
Did you know that cheese was first made over 4,000 years ago in Asia?

We eat many different parts of plants: stalks, seeds, flowers, leaves, bark and even roots. You are probably thinking, “Yuck, I do not eat roots.” It so happens that carrots, potatoes and cassava are all roots and are eaten every day all around the world! Cauliflower and broccoli are actually the flowers of the plant; maize (or corn), rice and peas are seeds; celery is the stalk; and lettuce and spinach are leaves. Fruits such as mangoes, apples and oranges grow on trees. Fruits such as cucumbers and grapes grow on vines. The bark of some trees is used for making flavoured tea or as spices like cinnamon. The sap of sugar maple trees is used for making maple syrup. Also, let us not forget gourds or melons, such as pumpkins, squash or watermelons!

Biodiversity is not limited only to plants; it applies to animals as well. Chickens, goats, cows, pigs, llamas and other domesticated animals also play a vital role in feeding the world’s population. It takes a lot more energy and resources to raise animals than to grow plants, so it is important not to eat too much meat.