Janisse Ray writes, “The Seed Underground” is a love letter to the quiet revolutionaries who are saving our food heritage.
"Ray begins The Seed Underground: A Growing Revolution to Save Food by explaining how we lost our seeds. Feeding ourselves has always been a burden for humans, she explains. “So when somebody came along and said, ‘I’ll do that cultivating for you. I’ll save the seeds. You do something else,’ most of us jumped at the chance to be free.”
But, according to Ray, when the dwindling number of farmers who stayed on the land gave up on saving seeds and embraced hybridization, genetically modified organisms, and seed patents in order to make money, we became slaves to multinational corporations like Monsanto and Syngenta, which now control our food supply.
In 2007, 10 companies owned 67 percent of the seed market. These corporations control the playing field, because they influence the government regulators. They’ve been known to snatch up little-known varieties of seeds, patent them, and demand royalties from farmers whose ancestors have grown the crops for centuries. The result is that our seeds are disappearing, and we miss out on the exquisite tastes and smells of an enormous variety of fruits and vegetables. More alarmingly, “we strip our crops of the ability to adapt to change and we put the entire food supply at risk,” Ray writes. “The more varieties we lose, the closer we slide to the tipping point of disaster.”
However, The Seed Underground is not a grim story. It’s a story about seeds, after all, which Ray calls “the most hopeful thing in the world.” Moreover, it’s a story about a handful of quirky, charismatic, “quiet, under-the-radar” revolutionaries, who harvest and stow seeds in the back of refrigerators and freezers across America."