A global project called the Ark of Taste is cataloging foods and flavors at risk of extinction in more than 100 countries. The Ark of Taste is a project of the Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity. The group travels the world collecting small-scale, culturally significant foods, including fruits, vegetables, cheeses, sweets and cured meats.
Information about each item, including its history and how it is produced, is recorded. But information is not only recorded: there’s also an attempt to save the recipe and the technique. For example, in one case, a traditional cheese maker shared his skills with younger producers.
One of the products included on the Ark of Taste website is an “apple cheese” from Belarus (not really a cheese at all, but rather, a form of preserved fruit).
“It [The Ark of Taste] was started in the 1990s when a group of Italian Slow Food campaigners realised the flavour of a traditional street food snack had changed. The reason was that chefs could no longer source a local variety of pepper. It’s led to thousands of people all over the world submitting their local traditional varieties of fruits and vegetables, rare breeds of livestock, cheeses and other products into the Ark.”
The group is working with the European Commission, the United Nations and Google to record the stories from the Ark of Taste and support projects to keep food diversity thriving around the world.
As the BBC Radio report notes, efforts to preserve food heritage in the United Kingdom date back at least a century.