Endangered fruits and vegetables are any fruits or vegetables that are either losing their natural habitat or are no longer being widely cultivated due to a lack of commercial viability. People who are working to save endangered foods believe in growing and eating these foods to keep them from obsolescence. They see food diversity disappearing quickly due to globalization and current monocrop agriculture practices; they believe that paying a little more for food from a small or local farm, planted in smaller crops, is worth it. Haling from all over the U.S. and the world, endangered fruits and vegetables are gaining in popularity at farmers' markets.
Custardy and thin-skinned, pawpaw fruit is a native to eastern U.S. temperate forests. Pawpaw is endangered because it doesn't pollinate easily, it's habitat is being destroyed and it is not able to be shipped long distances for commercial sales.
Cultivated originally by the Tohono O'Odham people of the Southwestern U.S. and Northern Mexico, the yellow-meated watermelon can withstand the searing temperatures of the Arizona desert. However, it is not available seedless and doesn't have the red flesh consumers expect, so it is becoming endangered.
Originating in California, the fuerte avocado is tasty, easy to peel, and has a smooth skin. It is not as popular an avocado because, unlike the dark-skinned Haas, it cannot be produced year round and it doesn't ship as well.
Growing wild from West Texas to Arizona, the chiltepin pepper is the only wild, native pepper of the U.S. Chiltepins are smoky in flavor and very spicy. They can be fermented, pickled or dried. They are endangered because they are not cultivated as widely as the jalepeno or other peppers, and their natural habitat is threatened.
Relatively dry but still meaty, the Algonquin squash is originally from the area of the U.S. now called New England. This squash, historically grown by some of the native Abenaki people, is sweet, rich and flavorful. However, it is not familiar to consumers, and so is usually only carried by specialty stores or at farmer's markets.
Juicy and meaty, speckled lettuce hails from Holland. Its flavor is comparable to that of watercress. It is much less popular than green leaf or iceberg lettuces, partly because some people mistake its brown speckles for rotten spots.
- Slow Food USA: Ark of Taste
- Local Harvest: Ark Project
- California Rare Fruit Growers: Pawpaw
endangered, fruit, meaty
About this Author
Sophia Sola has been a writer and editor for four years. She co-owns Sirius Prose Editing & Writing Service and has experience ranging from authoring magazine articles to editing graduate theses. She has been published in the "Earth First! Journal" and on Tivix.com and eHow.