Imagine a food basket filled with cereals from a Saharan oasis, potatoes from 4 000 metres up the Peruvian Andes or from a remote Chilean archipelago, and rice from steep terraced hillsides in China or the Philippines. All these foods come from Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS). These are food systems that have evolved over millennia in harsh and remote landscapes – and in extreme climates – thanks to the knowledge of indigenous people. FAO has identified some 200 of these systems around the world, hailing them for their contributions over the millennia and supporting them to make sure this knowledge is passed on to future generations. These special food systems contribute to local food security, natural resource management and the conservation of genetic diversity. Unfortunately, their survival is at risk as a result of modernization. By designating them as GIAHS, FAO raises their visibility, confers greater respect and helps ensure their survival.