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The Seed Detective

"This fascinating must-read for gardeners, growers and sustainability-minded food-lovers digs into the intriguing secret histories of vegetables."

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£18.99 £17.09

This title will be released on 29/09/2022. Pre-order now.

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LoveReading Says

LoveReading Says

An avid gardener since childhood, author Adam Alexander here shares his deep passion for, and knowledge of, the history of endangered “heritage vegetables”, enthusiastically explaining why we need to keep growing them, and revealing how vegetables are inextricably bound to the political landscape. The Seed Detective resounds with the zest of personal anecdotes, and has fascinating anthropological scope.

The author’s calling as a seed detective came during a 1988 film-making project in Ukraine when he became smitten by a fruit that “literally changed my life”. The fruit in question was Capsicum annuum, a “sweet pepper with a fiery heart” that set him off growing and sharing its seeds back home.

After contextualising why we need to save seeds, and highlighting problems brought by the industrial revolution, urbanisation and globalisation, and the need for a Green Revolution, the author shares details on the global histories of particular vegetables, among them peas, broad beans, and asparagus. The chapter on the Welsh leek is particularly fascinating as it explores the leek’s connections to Wales, but also traces its history back to Egypt and Mesopotamia some 4500 years ago.

The book ends with a rousing chapter on “seeds of hope”, outlining the positive shift to “re-learning traditional ways to produce food”. At the same time, Alexander points out a need for greater food equality, observing an “increasing divergence between those who can afford to eat organic and sustainably produced healthy food and those who can only afford the very cheapest and poorest quality [food]”.

Alexander’s storytelling skills from his work as a film and television producer are on radiant display here, making The Seed Detective an engaging, rewarding must-read for gardeners, growers, food-lovers, and those fascinated by the history and politics of food.

Joanne Owen

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