Dwindling Dietary Diversity a Growing Concern, Experts Say

Feb 1, 2023

Worldwide Production of Grain 2021-2022

A glance down a grocery store aisle may suggest that we have a dazzling variety of dietary options. A growing number of experts are warning that the opposite may be true. They warn there could be consequences as a result.  

Throughout time, humans have eaten 6,000 species of plant. Now, though, most of the world grows and eats only nine. Three of those (rice, wheat, and corn) provide about 50% of all calories humans eat. That's according to The Guardian. Food expert Polly Russell says that could be a problem. 

“(Modern varieties of rice, wheat, and corn) resulted in the miracle of feeding millions — but they also reduced biodiversity and resulted in … public health problems,” she told The Guardian. Those health problems include obesity as humans eat more sugary foods. It's the fifth-leading cause of death globally.

Another issue that could result from only eating a limited number of crops is a threat to food supplies. The most popular types of wheat and corn grow faster than strains of the past. That said, they're also more likely to get diseases. That could wipe out crops, which could cause a famine. That means there won't be enough food for everyone.

The solution, historians suggest, is looking for other foods. For example, traditional, ancient grains could be a good option. Those include bere, sorghum, and millet. 

“The diversity and resilience of traditional grains means they can’t just be a … niche thing. They need to be what … farmers are growing,” a British grain supplier told The Guardian.

Based on information in the infographic and the article, which ancient grain is produced more than rye and is a good option to use in place of wheat or corn? (Common Core RI.5.7; RI.6.7)
a. oats
b. rice
c. sorghum
d. barley
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