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The Seed Underground: A Growing Revolution to Save Food    by Janisse Ray order for
Seed Underground
by Janisse Ray
Order:  USA  Can
Chelsea Green, 2012 (2012)
Softcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Carrol Wolverton

Saving the Planet One Seed at a Time ...

In the lyrical writing only Janisse Ray produces, she alternately tells the tales of the seeds she saves and slashes at those seeking to end such practices and destroy our heritage produce. We stand with her in the fields as she writes.

Hard as it may seem to believe, the owners of genetically modified (GM) seeds have patented their products and use those patents to eliminate competition. Seed savers propagate open seeds, meaning seeds that will produce viable plants. Harvested GM seeds produce nothing.

I remember early on in my planting career wondering why I couldn't save seeds from the peppers I purchased and grow peppers on my own. 'They won't grow,' I was told. That didn't make sense. How did farmers in past centuries grow plants? Why couldn't I? I never suspected that commercial producers genetically modified seeds NOT to reproduce. That protects their product and market. Farmers must buy their seeds and matching herbicides. A litigious nature from commercial seed producers also proves no match for the average farmer who dares border their fields.

Janisse says she is one of the quiet revolutionaries who will not be held back. She recommends the reader do likewise and explains in detail the sex lives of plants and how to propagate seeds and properly save them. Bees will actually force open a female bloom to get to the nectar. This is not good for the seed saver who is hand pollinating to promote desired plant characteristics. The blooms must be taped shut, hand pollinated, and retaped. Bees already have enough problems without encountering chastity belts, but this is an exception.

Imagine a twelve-foot tall corn plant that produces only one ear of corn. That ear is nineteen to twenty inches long, however, and produces the best corn meal ever. It's called Kerner Corn and has been grown by the Kerner family for generations. Sounds good.

Through universities, workshops, lectures, The Seed Exchange, and various plant festivals around the country, word goes out, and magnificent historical seeds are rescued, saved, and promoted. It's working, per Janisse, and the organic produce movement helps. Seed saving is now her calling. She hopes it will become yours as well. A good place to start is

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