Variation Matters: Selective Breeding is a Climate Change Adaptation Strategy

Small Farms Can Create Regionally Adapted Plants and Animals

Photo by Raquel Martínez on Unsplash

Walk into any grocery store, and your eye is met with a mind-boggling array of fruit and
vegetables. There are shapes and colors and sizes to suit our wildest cooking
experiences, right at our fingertips every day.

But look a little closer. Take a look at the apples, for example. Although there are
separate types, within any one bin the product is nearly uniform. All the Macintosh
apples look exactly the same. All the Granny Smiths. And so on.

Ask any farmer, and they will tell you that apples don’t exactly come off the tree this
way. Off any one tree, there are apples with bumps and bruises, insect damage, a slight
variation on the size or shape, or in their color patterns. But out of all the apples
produced, only the near perfect ones are shipped out to the store and put on display.

As consumers, these highly uniform displays have trained us to expect perfection. We forget that variation exists, that each apple is not created perfect.

But variation is more important now in the face of climate change than ever before.
Maintaining genetic diversity of our food crops is critical to the future of food around the
world. And the fundamental element of genetic diversity is variation in traits.

Genetic Variation Provides the Starting Point
Among all the plants and animals that we currently grow around . . . .

Continue reading on Medium in The Startup


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