Scottish crofters saving traditional foodstuffs from extinction

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Scottish crofters have succeeded in adding traditional Scottish crofter fare onto Ark of Taste, the Slow Food movement’s international catalogue of threatened produce.

The Slow Food movement promotes artisan produce and livestock breeds threatened with extinction as well as the cultural traditions they represent – foodstuffs must be traditionally produced and historically linked to a specific area to qualify.

Among such exotically named products as Albenga violet asparagus from Liguria in Italy and Sarteau pears from France will be found the Shetland cabbage, North Ronaldsay sheep, Shetland kye (cattle), reestit mutton and the Shetland black potato.  A sixth product, native lamb from the breed Shetland sheep, is likely to be added by the Slow Food movement ‘s international committee of experts to the Ark of Taste catalogue very soon.

Intensive farming methods coupled to supermarket chain driven consumer buying habits have resulted in many traditional foodsuffs disappearing.  Over the past 100 years, about 75 per cent of varieties in Scotland have been lost permanently.

Delegates from the Scottish Crofting Federation (SCF) first began their efforts to add Scottish crofting fare to the Ark of Taste list after attending a Slow Food conference in Turin.

Carol Anne Stewart, SCF projects co-ordinator, said: “People don’t realise that crofters are the indigenous people of the Highlands and Islands and have been using some of the same farming and growing methods for hundreds of years.  We thought Slow Food would be a great vehicle for promoting our food and reaching an international audience.”