Biodiversity, Food and Farming for a Healthy Planet

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

Apples have a long and colourful history.
Archeologists discovered that humans enjoyed eating apples for over 6,000 years!
Some of the first people to eat apples were travelers along the ancient silk trading routes. The road passed through the forests of Kazakhstan, which had very tall trees of the ancestor of apples (60 feet or 18 meters high). The travelers probably picked the small apples to carry with them on their journey. Later, ancient Greeks and Romans domesticated the ancestor of the apple for the first time. Chinese farmers invented the method of grafting (joining the branch of one tree with the trunk of another) that now produces the large juicy apples we enjoy today.

Today, seeds of just a few species are available for farmers to buy. The result is that many farmers around the world are growing similar foods. Most farmers grow rice, wheat or maize. Sometimes local foods and species are not grown or people do not want to eat them. Many of these vegetables are high in vitamins important for daily nutrition. When these foods are forgotten, a little part of biodiversity is lost.

The organization Bioversity International helps communities conserve their diverse diets by linking local partners. In Kenya, they helped farmers find local markets for a traditional leafy-green vegetable by encouraging store, supermarket and restaurant owners to sell and use them.