Cataloging The World's Endangered Foods With 'The Ark Of Taste'

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According to the Slow Food Foundation, every year some 27,000 varieties of food are lost: seeds, pods, and food products like honey.

Climate change, disease, and many of the chemicals used in conventional farming have resulted in the disappearance of local varieties.

Here & Now resident chef Kathy Gunst went to the most recent Slow Food conference in Turin, Italy, and discovered a project that draws attention to some of these foods before they disappear.

"The Ark of Taste" seeks to catalog some of the world's endangered foods including Russian black salt, Indian Yak Cheese and Moroccan honey.

Gunst said the Slow Food foundation helps to preserve these foods by cataloging them and sharing them.

"The idea is that if you identify these foods, you can begin to protect them," Gunst said, adding that more than 1,000 new items were recorded in 2014.

The conference includes what Gunst calls a "country fair on steroids," during which some of the 220,000 attendees displayed their local foods.

"300 types of apples, 400 types of gourds and squash, seeds and pods and strange looking fruit, from all over the world," Gunst said. "It's so beautiful to look at it all."

The hundreds of endangered apple varieties Gunst saw in Turin inspired her to create a recipe for an Apple-Honey Crostada.

Apple-Honey Crostada

1230_apple-crostadaKathy Note: I was inspired by the enormous numbers of heirloom apples and honey from around the world that are at risk of extinction. In honor of apples and honey I created this rustic tart. Try to find heirloom varieties of apples and locally-made honey. Buying local and from smaller farmers can help keep heirloom varieties alive.

Serves 4 to 6.

The Pastry:

2 cups flour
Pinch salt
1 1/2 stick butter, chilled and cut into small cubes
About 1/4 to 1/3 cup ice cold water

The Apples and Honey:

4 apples, different heirloom varieties if possible, peeled and thinly sliced*
About 1/4 cup local honey, plus 2 tablespoons **
1/4 cup apple cider, pear cider or cranberry juice
1 tablespoon flour
Pinch cinnamon, ground nutmeg and ground ginger

*You can also use pears, peeled and thinly sliced

**If your honey is thick fill a small pot with a few inches of water and bring to a simmer over moderate heat. Add the honey jar to the pot making sure the water doesn’t spill over into the honey. The heat will thin the honey out and make it more liquid.


Make the pastry: In the container of a food processor, mix the flour and salt. Add the butter and pulse about 15 times until the butter looks like small pebbles. With the motor running add half the water and whirl. Add only enough water until the dough starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl and come together. Wrap the dough in foil and chill for at least an hour an up to overnight.

Roll out the dough into a 15 inch circle.

In a bowl mix the apples, 1/4 cup of honey and cider. Sprinkle on the flour and spices and mix thoroughly. Spread the apple mixture into the middle of the pastry making sure to leave at least 1 to 1 1/2 inches around the outside border without fruit. Fold the empty edges of the crust up and over the apples in roughly 4-inch sections, using your hands to press each section to the preceding layer of dough. (You can also use a little water to help the dough stick together.) If the dough is soft, refrigerate 30 minutes, until firm.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Bake on the middle shelf for 30 minutes. Drizzle the remaining honey over the fruit and pastry and reduce the heat to 350 degrees. Bake another 15 to 30 minutes, or until the pastry is golden brown and the fruit is soft. Serve warm or at room temperature.


This segment aired on December 30, 2014.


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