Join a Call to Action in defense of biodiversity around the globe

Help us share the inspiring stories of underutilized and often forgotten foods that safeguard biodiversity.

Today, over half the world’s plant-based nutrition comes from just 3 crops: corn, wheat, and rice (it wasn’t always like that).

Since the 1900s, farmers worldwide have increasingly abandoned traditional crops in favor of more genetically uniform, higher-yield varieties. This disturbing trend toward the intensive production of select crops has come at a cost. Global biodiversity is threatened. People in many parts of the globe face malnourishment and the impacts of diet-related diseases. Can we change course before it’s too late?

Photo by Robert Deluvio

Today, over half the world’s plant-based nutrition comes from just 3 crops: corn, wheat, and rice (it wasn’t always like that).
Since the 1900s, farmers worldwide have increasingly abandoned traditional crops in favor of more genetically uniform, higher-yield varieties. This disturbing trend toward the intensive production of select crops has come at a cost. Global biodiversity is threatened. People in many parts of the globe face malnourishment and the impacts of diet-related diseases. Can we change course before it’s too late?

Photo by Robert Deluvio

Forgotten. Neglected. Minor. Underutilized. Orphans. Regardless of their names, farmers across the globe are “reawakening” traditionally undervalued crops.
Over the past half-century, many abandoned crops have been reappraised as communities worldwide rediscover their power to combat hunger, respond to climate change, promote greater biodiversity, provide women with livelihoods, and support healthier and more secure food systems.

The Lexicon asked food systems experts to select the best examples of Reawakened Crops from across the globe.

They started with 25.

An international group of experts—including agronomists, soil scientists, and food systems NGOs—selected 25 Reawakened crops that are transforming global food systems by providing nutrient security, enhancing biodiversity, supporting local economies, and increased resilience to climate change.

We’re crowdsourcing the powerful story of agrobiodiversity.

Join us by taking the Reawakened Global Storytelling Initiative.

With our support, filmmakers, artists, writers and photographers are joining food systems experts from across the globe to capture amazing stories of crops with the power to combat hunger, support indigenous cultures, respond to climate change, promote biodiversity, provide women with livelihoods, and support healthier and more secure food systems.

What is agrobiodiversity? The Lexicon is a member of the FACT Accelerator, which has developed 10 Principles to explain agrobiodiversity.

The FACT (Food, Agrobiodiversity, Clarity, and Transparency) Accelerator believes that the marketplace can accelerate change in our food systems by providing purchasers (and consumers) with more visibility into how food is grown, produced, and brought to market. Transparency and storytelling help buyers across the value chain make purchases aligned with their values and support the food system they’d like to see. In pursuit of this vision, international food and agriculture experts defined 10 Principles for Agrobiodiversity, conducted three transparent supply chain pilots—fonio in West Africa, small millets in India, and amaranth in Mexico—and built Supply Chain Self-Assessment Tools to encourage food companies to use more diverse ingredients.

10 Principles for Agrobiodiversity

  1. Build Healthier Soils
  2. Greater Resilience to Climate Change
  3. Improved Nutrient Security
  4. Enhanced Livelihoods for Women
  5. Increased Knowledge Sharing
  6. Resilient Land Use Practices
  7. Empowerment of Young Farmers
  8. More economic activity in the Value Chain
  9. Promotion of Responsible Conservation
  10. Preservation of Indigenous Cultures
25 crops. 10 principles. The Lexicon has already started documenting these reawakened crops. So far, the team has told the stories of breadfruit, teff, amaranth, small millets, and the tepary bean.
Teams on five continents are capturing stories that show what happens when agricultural systems turn away from growing only a few uniform commodity crops and return to the rich variety of foods that make up their traditional diets. When crops are grown to feed communities, more people gain livelihoods across the value chain, from makers of value added products to the shopkeepers that sell them. Recirculating money within a community triggers rapid economic growth. Greater food security, improved nutrition, and less reliance on petrochemical inputs are also benefits of a more agrobiodiverse system.
The Lexicon uses evidence-based storytelling, strategy, and mobilization to build movements that tackle our food systems’ greatest challenges.
Douglas Gayeton, Chief Lexicographer and Co-founder of The Lexicon, leads the Reawakened Global Storytelling Initiative. He is an award-winning information architect, filmmaker, photographer, and writer who has created work at the boundaries of traditional and emerging media since the early 90’s. He directed the KNOW YOUR FOOD series for PBS and GROWING ORGANIC for USDA, and has authored two books, SLOW: Life in a Tuscan Town, and LOCAL: The New Face of Food & Farming in America.