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The food industry has increasingly prioritized sustainability, as eaters care more about where and how our food is produced, as well as who produces it. There is even growing interest around soil health and the potential for agriculture to regenerate the health of the planet, not just sustain the status quo. There has been far less attention, however, to the diversity of what’s being grown.

About 75 percent of the world’s food comes from just 12 plants and 5 animal species. Almost half of our plant-derived calories come from just three foods: wheat, corn and rice. While estimates vary, it is believed that there are over 30,000 edible plants, and we only eat 150 of them. Thirty percent of livestock breeds are at risk of extinction, and six breeds are being lost each month.

This concentration around just a few food sources puts our food system at risk, as evidenced by the story of the Cavendish Banana and The Irish Potato Famine. It also robs eaters of awesome, nutrient dense foods and flavor experiences.

How did we get here? Historically, the food industry prioritized commoditization, mass yield, and uniformity over flavor, nutrition, and sustainability. As a result, we are losing plant and animal species at an alarming rate, while diet-related disease, obesity, and micronutrient deficiencies are on the rise.

Now, we as an industry have a chance and a responsibility to make things right.

The Future of Food is Biodiverse: Where Flavor and Sustainability Meet

Building a food industry that promotes agrobiodiversity – the variety and variability of plants, animals, microorganisms and biocultural systems linked to agriculture and food – makes our food system more sustainable and allows us to delight eaters with new and exciting foods from a diverse set of cultures.

As an industry, agrobiodiversity ensures supply chain resiliency and food security by safeguarding the genetic material needed to ensure crops can evolve in the face of pests and disease, climate change and extreme weather. A biodiverse food system also supports economic development, enables greater dietary diversity, which leads to better health, and helps preserve cultural traditions, techniques, and flavors.

39+ Industry Leaders Explore Biodiversity in Food

Intellectually, you might agree with our premise that the future of food is biodiverse, but what does it mean in practice?

To help us understand what a biodiverse food industry looks like, we’ve partnered with The Future Market to host an editorial series from January 7-31 inviting leading CEOs, executives, farmers, investors and researchers to share insight into their thoughts and strategies for supporting biodiversity in food. Check out our interviews below. See the full list of participants here.


Kathleen Merrigan says it's time to enhance existing organic standards to better support things like biodiversity and soil health. [...]
Edenworks' Jason Green talks to us about why seafood biodiversity is important and the role aquaponics and aquaculture can play in preserving it.[...]
  As over 90,000 food industry professionals packed the halls of the Anaheim Convention Center last week looking for the next big thing in CPG, three leaders from General Mill[...]
Tina Owens, senior director of agriculture at Danone North America, talks to us about how the company measures its impact on soil health, as well as how it invests in farmers to he[...]
National Younger Farmer Coalition executive director Lindsey Lusher Shute talks to us about why biodiversity is critical to the future success of agriculture.[...]
Wholesome Wave founder Michel Nischan on why his new socially responsible soup company, Wholesome Crave, aims to expand demand for biodiverse ingredients.[...]
Arabella Advisors' Eric Kessler and Cyrus Kharas on why we need greater investment in technologies that support transparency, supply chain innovation and connect eaters to the prod[...]
MAD executive director Melina Shannon-DiPietro talks to us about creating a global community of chefs who are leaders in sustainability and biodiversity.[...]
We speak with co-founder and chief concept officer Nic Jammet about how sweetgreen thinks about biodiversity and encourages it across its supply chain.[...]
Believe in Bambara co-founder Tamara Cohen talks to us about why and how her startup is bringing the bambara groundnut to the US.[...]
GODAN's André Laperrière talks to us about using open data to help eaters, health professionals and governments improve health and preserve biodiversity.[...]
FoodShot Global founder Victor Friedberg talks to us about white space opportunities & capital structures for a regenerative, biodiverse food system.[...]
Health Warrior's director of strategic sales Casey Emmett talks to us about how the chia brand built its initial supply chain for the underutilized crop. [...]
Farm.One CEO Rob Laing talks to us about how the vertical farming startup uses technology to grow over 500 specialty produce crops for chefs. [...]
Bowery's Susan MacIsaac explain how the vertical farming company is utilizing previously unusable industrial space to grow over 100 crop varieties. [...]
rePlant Capital's Robyn O'Brien talks about how the impact investment firm works with American farmers & companies tackling issues created by climate change.[...]
Slow Food USA Executive Director Richard McCarthy talks to us The Ark of Taste Database, which catalogues 5,000 endangered foods, and relocalizing our food. [...]
Just 12 plants and 5 animals make up 75% of the world’s food supply. Almost half of our plant-derived calories come from just three foods: wheat, corn and rice. While estimates var[...]
Yolélé Foods CEO Philp Teverow talks to us about how the company is creating market demand and processing infrastructure for fonio. [...]
Burlap & Barrel co-founder Ethan Frisch talks to us about how the spice company is developing a horizontally scaleable supply chain.[...]
Applegate's Gina Asoudegan talks to us about how the meat company is launching its regenerative agriculture platform featuring products will come from animals raised on pasture. [...]
Institute for the Future talks about its foresight research & how biodiversity creates new opportunities for human and planetary health, flavor & business.[...]
Dig Inn's director of supply and sustainability and farm manager explain how the restaurant uses its platform to support its 102 farm partners in experimenting with new crops and g[...]
Gotham Greens CEO Viraj Puri on supporting biodiversity by using hydroponic technology to limit agriculture's use of land and water, while also reducing chemical use in our food pr[...]
Food System 6's Renske Lynde talks about the incubator's holistic approach to supporting innovation among farmers, producers and entrepreneurs. [...]
Starbucks VP of Coffee & Tea Michelle Burns how the company promotes biodiversity through its Coffee and Farmer Equity (C.A.F.E.) Practices.[...]
Back to the Roots' Nikhil Arora and Alejandro Vélez Ramírez on unlocking curiosity about biodiverse agriculture through their cereals and indoor gardening kits.[...]
Food Tank's Danielle Nierenberg explains why companies should implement true cost accounting and partner with farmers to increase diversity in the field.[...]
  From January 7 – February 8, Food+Tech Connect and The Future Market are hosting Biodiversity: The Intersection of Taste & Sustainability, an editorial series feat[...]
La Quercia co-founder Herb Eckhouse on working with heritage animal breeders to create products with unique flavors that also preserve biodiversity.[...]
Crops For the Future Research Centre CEO Prof Sayed Azam-Ali on promoting climate-resilient, nutritious and economically viable underutilized crops.[...]
Lexicon of Sustainability director Douglas Gayeton talks about how the Rediscovered Food Initiative is promoting use of 25 neglected and underutilized foods.[...]
AeroFarms co-founder and CMO Marc Oshima on how indoor agriculture can allow farms to grow crops that have been lost to climate change, disease and pests.[...]
Thrive Market CEO Nick Green says Demeter Biodynamic Certification and Regenerative Organic Certifications will become more prevalent in the next 18 months. [...]
REBBL CEO Sheryl O’Loughlin on promoting biodiversity through regenerative agriculture, using ethically sourced ingredients and through consumer education. [...]
Nikiko Masumoto discusses industrial agriculture’s history of racism, slavery and patriarchy, urging us to include diversity of people in any conversation about biodiversity conver[...]
Tender Greens CEO Erik Oberholtzer on how he's incorporating rediscovered ingredients like Fonio into the chain's menus and inspiring other chefs to do the same. [...]
The Crop Trust's Marie Haga talks to us about why crop diversity is critical to to safeguarding the genetic material scientists need to develop new crops. [...]
Kuli Kuli CEO Lisa Curtis talks to us about how cultivating a diverse team is just as important as diversifying crops, animals and ecosystems.[...]
  As you may have noticed, it’s biodiversity month here at Food+Tech Connect. To raise awareness and spark a conversation, we’ve teamed up with The Future Market a[...]
    The conversation about the future of food has exploded over the past half decade. Much ink has been spilled examining virtually every new food innovation from lab gro[...]
Impossible Foods CEO Dr. Pat Brown discusses how demand for animal protein is causing biodiversity loss, and how the plant-based company is preventing more loss[...]
Sir Kensington's Rebecca Gildiner talks about creating markets for biodiverse crops and building supply chains for unique ingredients.[...]
Charlotte Douglas, COO of Row 7 Seed Company, writes about the importance of diversifying our seed varieties and the role chefs play in shaping what we eat.[...]
Shauna Sadowski, Head of Sustainability for the Natural & Organic Operating Unit at General Mills, on why biodiversity is critical to the company's success. [...]