The Seed Detective: Uncovering the Secret Histories of Remarkable Vegetables, Adam Alexander's spirited introduction to the contemporary seed-saving movement and the relevance of vegetables to the human story, celebrates the hundreds of traditional, historically valuable crops rescued from extinction by a quiet cavalry of local farmers around the world.
Alexander, a film and television producer with a lifelong passion for growing food, is a seed guardian for the Heritage Seed Library in the U.K. He seeks indigenous varieties of key food seeds on his extensive global travels. Maintaining a library of 499 seed varieties, most no longer commercially available, Alexander is on a mission to promote the deliciousness, sustainability and biodiversity of locally grown crops over those that have been "industrialised, patented, corralled into tasteless cosmetic versions of goodness." He shares seed with gardeners much like himself--and with displaced people so that they can grow crops from their native lands.
The Seed Detective, Alexander's first book, uncovers the ancient provenance of 14 vegetable species and is organized into two parts: those whose origins are to the east of his garden in Wales and those to the west. Altogether, these species span the Mediterranean, the Middle East, Central and South America and Mexico. By sharing the historical journey of leeks, kale, radish and peas--from "wild parent to cultivated offspring"--he hopes readers will gain a new appreciation of "these Cinderellas of our food culture." With entertaining anecdotes that feature Syrian fava beans, Ukrainian sweet peppers and broad beans from Myanmar, Alexander's horticultural adventures will surely stimulate and unleash readers' inner gardeners. --Shahina Piyarali, reviewer