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Food 01 Dec 2021

BBVA and El Celler de Can Roca bring back extinct and forgotten foods in their latest documentary titled 'Seeds for the Future'

A conscientious and responsible diet plays a key role in slowing down crop extinction and protecting biodiversity. This marks the starting point of Seeds for the Future, a global movement driven by BBVA and El Celler de Can Roca to address the greatest disruption humanity has ever faced: climate change and the resulting loss of environmental diversity.

Rich and functional nature, with the right levels of biodiversity, is essential to ensuring the health of humanity (according to the United Nations, biodiversity plays a decisive role in preventing the risk of new pandemics such as COVID-19). In addition to safeguarding global food safety, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) states that biodiversity helps sustain healthy and nutritional diets, improves resources for rural subsistence, and makes people and communities more resilient. However, 86 percent of the planet’s species are currently at risk of extinction and 75 percent of agricultural varieties have disappeared in the last century.

At a time when only nine crops represent 66 percent of the total global production, ‘Seeds for the Future’ was created with the idea of encouraging people to consider the importance of biodiversity conservation and to help society adopt responsible eating habits that protect this wealth through a healthy gastronomy based on quality local ingredients (a journey that BBVA and El Celler de Can Roca have undertaken through their joint project ‘Sustainable gastronomy,’ which helps people transition to healthier lifestyles).

“We designed the sustainable challenge from a comprehensive perspective: climate change must be addressed with a social, inclusive and green strategy. This joint project is an example of how we can promote small initiatives that in turn create major transformations to guarantee new opportunities for everyone by making tools available to people. We are confident that many entities will join this movement, which aims to protect our flavors, culinary heritage and culture,” explained Antoni Ballabriga, Global Director of Responsible Business at BBVA, during the presentation.

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From left to the right: Josep Roca, sommelier and co-owner of El Celler de Can Roca, and Antoni Ballabriga, Global Director of Responsible Business at BBVA, during the presentation. - BBVA

A documentary project that highlights the extinction of our foods

To mark the starting point of this movement, BBVA and El Celler de Can Roca have released a documentary titled ‘Seeds for the Future’. The piece, which stars Joan, Josep and Jordi Roca, begins with the alarming extinction of crop diversity: a premise that the brothers discover in their local and personal surroundings, and that they continue to explore in other parts of the world (from Ecuador to Norway).

As they delve into the biodiversity conservation solutions offered by a series of different international experts (organizations such as FAO, Crop Trust, Slow Food and IFAD contributed to the documentary), the protagonists begin a journey aimed at safeguarding their culinary heritage and family legacy (a challenge linked to their mother, Monserrat Fontané, who has run the Can Roca family eatery for more than 50 years).

The two storylines ultimately come together in the form of a menu based on extinct or forgotten foods from the La Garrotxa region. This unique culinary concept invites people to reflect on the threat of biodiversity loss and also serves as proof of the solution for dealing with the progressive genetic erosion of crops: reintroducing and reclaiming these foods in our daily diet.

Produced by LLYC, ‘Seeds for the Future’ will be available on the BBVA corporate website and on streaming platforms starting December 1st. In the weeks that follow, viewers will be able to learn more about the documentary’s storylines through additional transmedia content involving the protagonists and some of the main settings.

A unique menu made from forgotten and extinct crops

Throughout the project, BBVA and the Roca brothers turned to local seed banks to retrieve extinct and marginalized crop varieties. The Agrifood Research and Technology Center of Aragon, the Carl Faust Foundation and the local farming community played an essential role in this initiative. In an effort to reclaim these foods, the Roca brothers designed a special menu aimed at raising awareness. White eggplants and purple potatoes from La Garrotxa, along with bitxo peppers and mongeta beans from L’ull Ros are just some of the varieties that the team at El Celler de Can Roca used to create this menu.

“Thanks to the ‘Seeds for the Future’ project in general and to this menu in particular, we have helped showcase biodiversity as a source of knowledge as well as of culinary and cultural inspiration. It is important to promote initiatives that help protect nature’s diversity and to reintroduce resources that would otherwise disappear forever, leaving a big hole in our legacy for future generations,” pointed out Josep Roca, sommelier and co-owner of El Celler de Can Roca.

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Frame of the documentary 'Seeds for the Future'. - BBVA

A movement aimed at including and inspiring chefs from all over the world

As part of the commitment shared by BBVA and El Celler de Can Roca, the two entities seek to inspire chefs throughout the world to work together in making greater contributions towards the biodiversity challenge. As a result, organizations interested in joining this movement can form part of the ‘Seeds for the Future’ community, agreeing to abide by the following principles:

  1. COLLABORATING: Fostering partnerships with local sustainable farmers, and tracking and bolstering environmentally-friendly networks that support social and economic balance.
  2. REINTRODUCING: Promoting the conscientious and varied use of local crops and foods in our cuisine, amassing a source of culinary knowledge and inspiration from biodiversity.
  3. GETTING INVOLVED: Positioning ourselves as active spokespeople for this sustainable commitment, guiding the conversation around solutions that can help social actors make decisions that bring them closer to a lifestyle in greater communion with nature.

Sustainable gastronomy and supporting small farmers: a pillar of the alliance between BBVA and El Celler de Can Roca

The adventure undertaken by El Celler de Can Roca and BBVA is a story of shared values: responsibility, innovation, commitment, totality, leadership and the pursuit of excellence. An alliance that began in 2013 and that has traveled all over the world, seeking the revitalisation of small farmers in every region and sharing the stories of those signature products.

In 2020, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, BBVA and El Celler de Can Roca further expanded their support of these farmers through ‘Sustainable Gastronomy. Supporting small farmers,’ a project that helps protect natural resources and recognizes the efforts of people who work on the land and in the sea. Months later, they announced the winners of the Most Sustainable Farmers. In their two editions, these awards have highlighted local farmers and ranchers whose operations combine a commitment to the environment, energy savings measures and healthy food.

This is not the only initiative that the financial institution has created to support these types of farmers in the current situation. BBVA also launched a loan in Spain that helps farmers and ranchers transform their conventional operations into eco-friendly ones, as well as a free professional training program for its Spanish clients to set up online sales, and the ‘Remote commerce’ platform in Mexico and Spain to help non-digitized small businesses fulfill remote orders due to the situation created by COVID-19. Thanks to these and other initiatives, BBVA is considered the most sustainable bank in Europe and the second most sustainable in the world, according to the Dow Jones Sustainability Index, published in November 2021.

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