What is the Ark of Taste?

The Ark of Taste is a living catalog of delicious and distinctive foods facing extinction. By identifying and championing these foods we keep them in production and on our plates.

Since 1996, more than 1,100 products from over 50 countries have been added to the International Ark of Taste. Over 200 of these foods are from the USA, and we are always seeking more edible treasures to include.

The Ark of Taste is a tool for farmers, ranchers, fishers, chefs, grocers, educators and consumers to seek out and celebrate our country's diverse biological, cultural and culinary heritage.

Ark of Taste in the Midwest

There are over 65 Ark of Taste products grown in the Midwest. Learn more about them and their unique histories on the Slow Food USA Ark of Taste catalogue.

The Ark of Taste is a priority for Slow Food Chicago. Here's how we incorporate the Ark of Taste into our work:

  • Educate chefs and encourage them to cook with Ark of Taste products at our Farm to Table dinners and events
  • Incorporate Ark of Taste ingredients into every dish at our annual Farm Roast 
  • Engage in tabling at outreach efforts at Whole Foods, the Good Food Festival, Farmers Markets and other events
  • Slow Food Chicago board members serve on the regional Midwestern Ark of Taste committee to discuss and vote on products to be nominated for the Ark of Taste
  • Grow Ark of Taste varieites at our preSERVE Garden in North Lawndale, such as Amish Deer Tongue Lettuce, Beaver Dam Peppers, Christmas Lima Beans, Crowder Cowpeas, Sheepnose Pimientos, and more
  • Slow Food Chicago board members work with Seed Savers Exchange in Iowa to incorporate Ark of Taste seeds into our programming, and educate ourselves about seed biodiversity

How Can I Support the Ark of Taste?

When it comes to the Ark of Taste, our motto is "Eat It To Save It!" The more people who grow, buy and cook with Ark of Taste products, the more aware we all are of our food biodiversity -- and the more likely we are to preserve the rich variety of our food system. Check out Slow Food USA's resources for how you can be a champion of the Ark of Taste. 

If you want to learn more about the Ark of Taste in the Midwest and stay up to date with the latest news - there's a Facebook page just for you!


The great thing about the Ark of Taste is that anyone can nominate something to be on the Ark!  If you know of a product that satisfies these categories, nominate it today! 

Questions about the process? Email Megan at Slow Food USA at megan@slowfoodusa.org or Jennifer Casey, chair of the Midwest Ark of Taste Committee at aotmidwest@slowfoodusa.org. 

Here’s a quick look at what it takes to be on the Ark of Taste:


Produced in limited quantities, these foods will not be around in another generation or two without immediate action. Risk factors may be biological, commercial, or cultural.


Whether an animal breed, baked treat, fruit, spice, grain, or beverage these foods are prized by those who eat them for their special taste.


No engineered foods here. These foods are linked to the place and the community that protects them. Everything on the Ark of Taste has the potential to be grown, raised or produced without harm to the environment.


To keep these foods’ traditions alive takes many hands. No commercial or trademarked items are allowed on to the Ark of Taste, only foods that anyone may champion, produce, share or sell.


Gorgeous header image by Ryan Kimura