Nature has its own checks and balances system that relies on genetic variety. Our focus on softness, whiteness, staple length, and strength has put many older breeds at risk of extinction. What remains—highly bred finewool Merinos—has an increasingly limited genetic base lacking untold traits for everything from disease resistance to adaptability to changing climate conditions. As with heirloom versus genetically modified seeds, we risk not knowing what we've lost until it's too late. Knitters can slow the trend by seeking out and supporting other breeds. If we keep going for the white flour, we'll lose the other grains entirely. But if we open our minds and hands to variety, who knows where it may lead us?
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