Saving Seeds, Preserving Taste: Heirloom Seed Savers in Appalachia

Bill Best. Ohio Univ., $22.95 trade paper (212p) ISBN 978-0-8214-2049-2
Best, the “dean of beans,” exhorts Americans to reclaim the lost art of growing good seed the simple way: through bartering and sharing of family varieties. Throughout southern Appalachia, the area discussed by Best (who lives in Kentucky), the bean plays a mythical role. In making his modest and unflappable case for cultivating and disseminating “homegrown varieties,” Best cites the testimony of locals (including his mother), who preserved varieties that would otherwise have fallen prey to the commercial behemoth of genetic modification. Guess which state is well-known for the “Tarheel Bean”? Wrong. Not North Carolina but Washington state, because some devoted bean cultivators who migrated west from western North Carolina took their seeds with them. On it goes, with stories of apple seeds, corn, cucumbers, and candy roasters (winter squash), too. This animated narrative offers a glimpse into American folklore, migration patterns, and the glory of the family farm as it is known through its seeds, which live on season after season, offering distinctive local flavor. (May)
Reviewed on: 04/01/2013
Release date: 04/01/2013
Genre: Nonfiction
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