Slow Food’s ARK of Taste

The ARK of Taste is a global effort to catalog endangered foods that are grown on small scale and threatened by industrial standardization. The ARK is committed to admitting only the best tasting foods onto their lists, and believe that consumer demand is crucial to their conservation. By raising awareness of rare varieties, there is a better chance that the public will respond by seeking them out. The Hidatsa Shield Figure bean from the Hidatsa Tribe, pictured below, is listed on the ARK for the USA.

Here are a few images of beautiful heirloom varieties that I’m growing this summer in my own suburban garden:

Yugoslavian Red Butterhead Lettuce

I love simple lettuce salads, so I was excited to discover this one:

Yugoslavian Red Butterhead

“An old heirloom from a peasant family in Marburg, Yugoslavia.”

Hidatsa Shield Figure, a Native American heirloom

Heirloom beans are a special interest of mine, and this year I’m growing several. One of the most interesting is the:

Hidatsa Shield Figure Bean

“From the Hidatsa tribe who raised corn, squash, beans, and sunflowers in the Missouri River Valley of North Dakota. Shield Figure beans are described in Buffalo Bird Woman’s Garden (1987). This very productive variety was boarded onto Slow Food USA’s Ark of Taste in 2005.”

Stella Blue Hokkaido winter squash

This is a gorgeous Asian winter squash; I grew it for the first time last year and I love everything about it:

Stella Blue Hokkaido

“An exceptional winter squash. Sweet, richly flavored, fiberless flesh is delicious, dry, and almost flaky. Medium-sized, round, slightly flattened, blue fruits store well.”

Violet and purple artichokes from Italy are lovely and more tender than green globe artichokes:

Violetto, an Italian Artichoke

Violetto Artichoke

“From the north of Italy we bring you the artichoke of aristocrats, Violetto. This violet-bracted ‘choke has small, oval, slightly elongated flower heads that measure 3 inches wide by 5 inches long.”

The shared histories of people and plants have been woven together over thousands of years, and as a result edible plants are a critical feature of every culture. We can do our part to honor, preserve, and protect this beautiful partnership.

Photos: Urban Artichoke