5 out of 5 stars

When we had an allotment many many years ago we would spend ages pouring over the seed catalogues trying to find the tastiest fruit and vegetable to buy. Often the ones that came top of the plate taste test were the heritage ones. These are often ignored by supermarkets as they don’t meet their very stringent and specific requirements.

Seed companies also ignored them as the cost of registering them was prohibitive. So to get these seeds we had to sign up to an organisation whose members could see that losing them was a disaster in the making.

This disaster is now almost on us. But there are people all around the world fighting back now. In Eating to Extinction, Dan Saladino crisscrosses the planet to talk to the farmers, cooks and individuals who have a vested interest in making sure that these rare food and drink are being kept alive. We learn about the original varieties of corn in South America, Lambic beers in Belgium and indigenous communities who have gone back to the wild rice that is resistant to the diseases affecting modern varieties. It is a fascinating journey.

I thought that this was an excellent book about the looming disaster that the global food industry has the potential to become. I did notice that there are people at the top of these big businesses that dominate the global food system who are starting to make a noise. But vested interests still hold sway – at the moment. I have seen some reviews that complained that he goes into too much detail about the various food and drinks that he has investigated. But for me, this is exactly what we need, someone who is prepared to dig in and find the details of that particular grain or drink.

Reading it I felt like I was hearing his voice on the programmes that he presents on the Food Programme on BBC Radio 4. I liked the short essays on each subject too. It is a book that could be returned to again and again. Mostly though it is a call to arms to ensure that governments start to put in place the necessary regulations to ensure that we have more diversity in the food chain. Otherwise, we are all doomed…

Very highly recommended

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