Where Our Food Comes From: Retracing Nikolay Vavilov's Quest to End Famine

Where Our Food Comes From: Retracing Nikolay Vavilov's Quest to End Famine

by Gary Paul Nabhan
     
 

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ISBN-10: 1610910036

ISBN-13: 9781610910033

Pub. Date: 03/16/2011

Publisher: Island Press

The future of our food depends on tiny seeds in orchards and fields the world over. In 1943, one of the first to recognize this fact, the great botanist Nikolay Vavilov, lay dying of starvation in a Soviet prison. But in the years before Stalin jailed him as a scapegoat for the country’s famines, Vavilov had traveled over five continents, collecting hundreds

Overview

The future of our food depends on tiny seeds in orchards and fields the world over. In 1943, one of the first to recognize this fact, the great botanist Nikolay Vavilov, lay dying of starvation in a Soviet prison. But in the years before Stalin jailed him as a scapegoat for the country’s famines, Vavilov had traveled over five continents, collecting hundreds of thousands of seeds in an effort to outline the ancient centers of agricultural diversity and guard against widespread hunger. Now, another remarkable scientist—and vivid storyteller—has retraced his footsteps.
 
In Where Our Food Comes From, Gary Paul Nabhan weaves together Vavilov’s extraordinary story with his own expeditions to Earth’s richest agricultural landscapes and the cultures that tend them. Retracing Vavilov’s path from Mexico and the Colombian Amazon to the glaciers of the Pamirs in Tajikistan, he draws a vibrant portrait of changes that have occurred since Vavilov’s time and why they matter.
 
In his travels, Nabhan shows how climate change, free trade policies, genetic engineering, and loss of traditional knowledge are threatening our food supply. Through discussions with local farmers, visits to local outdoor markets, and comparison of his own observations in eleven countries to those recorded in Vavilov’s journals and photos, Nabhan reveals just how much diversity has
already been lost. But he also shows what resilient farmers and scientists in many regions are doing to save the remaining living riches of our world.
 
It is a cruel irony that Vavilov, a man who spent his life working to foster nutrition, ultimately died from lack of it. In telling his story, Where Our Food Comes From brings to life the intricate relationships among culture, politics, the land, and the future of the world’s food.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781610910033
Publisher:
Island Press
Publication date:
03/16/2011
Edition description:
1
Pages:
264
Sales rank:
234,673
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.80(d)

Table of Contents

Foreword Ken Wilson xi

Chapter 1 The Art Museum and the Seed Bank 1

Chapter 2 The Hunger Artist and the Horn of Plenty 22

Chapter 3 Melting Glaciers and Waves of Grain: The Pamirs 45

Chapter 4 Drought and the Decline of Variety: The Po Valley 65

Chapter 5 From Breadbasket to Basket Case: The Levant 74

Chapter 6 Date Palm Oases and Desert Crops: The Maghreb 84

Chapter 7 Finding Food in Famine's Wake: Ethiopia 93

Chapter 8 Apples and Boomtown Growth: Kazakhstan 113

Chapter 9 Rediscovering America and Surviving the Dust Bowl: The U.S. Southwest 125

Chapter 10 Logged Forests and Lost Seeds: The Sierra Madre 139

Chapter 11 Deep into the Tropical Forests of the Amazon 162

Chapter 12 The Last Expedition 175

Epilogue 191

Bibliography 199

Acknowledgments 211

About the Author 213

Index 215

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