Playing favorites – we’re all doing it. On every level, from the farmers to the shoppers, Americans are becoming more and more selective about exactly which kind of cucumber, tomato, or lettuce they want. This chart from National Geographic is based on a study conducted in 1983 that demonstrated that 90% of the vegetable varieties that we ate one hundred years ago are now extinct. As a nation we’re relying on just “a handful of commercial varieties of fruits and vegetables.”

This is not good news. Whether you’re wearing your ecologist hat or your economist hat, you should be pretty concerned. In ecology this issue is referred to as loss of biodiversity, which basically means loss of variety of living things. Letting species go extinct is one way to deplete the natural variety of living things, or biodiversity of an ecosystem. Hint: We want to do the opposite!


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3 thoughts on “

  1. The same is also true of meat products. Pork producers spent a lot of time making pork less “porky”. Remember the “The Other White Meat” campaign? They bred pigs to produce blander, more chicken-like meat.

    The good news is that we created most of the previous variety. We can probably create them again.


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