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Where Our Food Comes From: Retracing Nikolay Vavilov's Quest to End Famine Hardcover – September 12, 2008
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Top Customer Reviews
The author, Gary Paul Nabhan an ethnobotanist and nutritional ecologist, retraces some of the collection trips made by Vavilov to assess the current conditions of those areas to see if they are still practicing their local forms of agriculture, utilizing their native crops and if the natural ecosystems that harbor the wild ancestors of the crop species are still intact. Over and over, the author stresses the need to preserve these areas as sources for genetic diversity which might be needed to develop new cultivated varieties. He also stresses how the indigenous people need to be encouraged to continue their traditional forms of agriculture as means of preserving their culture, so they can continue to be stewards of the local biodiversity and as a means to protect their food supply.Read more ›
Reviewed by Rafael J. Routson, Department of Geography and Regional Development, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ.
In the Foodsteps of Giants:
In his latest scientific and cultural pursuit, Where Our Food Comes From, Dr. Gary Paul Nabhan tracks the footsteps of Russian seed scientist Nikolay Vavilov across five continents, tracing the centers of diversity of domesticated food crops. These two scientists, whose work reaches into three centuries, embarked upon their quests in the context of a critical race, for Vavilov a pursuit against famine in his own country and then the snarls of the communist government, and for Dr. Nabhan a race against the irreversible loss of the world's genetic food crop diversity. The stories of each scientist, spaced fifty to seventy years apart in their journeys provide a multi-tiered study of past and current tapestries of seeds, fruits, roots, and tubers, as well as the farms, farmers, seed collectors, and seed protectors in Europe, Asia, Africa, and North and South America. This book emerges at a pivotal time in agricultural history, as economic and political factors severely threaten the future of food diversity and food security around the globe. In the times of Nikolay Vavilov, nation-wide famines propelled the young scientist to seek strains of crops from around the world to locate genes resistant to pests, disease, and unpredictable weather conditions. Dr.Read more ›
Dr.Nabhan does an excellent job describing the importance of genetic diversity, and Vavilov's journeys to verify it. As an American, the most important chapters were of Vavilov's research in North America. America is home to nigh-unlimited varieties of potatoes, corn, sunflowers, beans, tomatoes, squash.
Also contains an interesting narrative about Guayule, a desert shrub that is a source of latex for rubber. The facts defy anything an Austrian School economist could conceive of.
In the end Vavilov was made a scapegoat for the failings of Soviet Policies he had nothing to do with. The Kulaks had been eliminated as a class, and Vavilov was eliminated as a source of continued progress for the scientific world.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Vavilov was a botanist who travelled the world collecting seed and studying the methods of farmers before his incarceration by Stalin and death by starvation in 1943. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Kate Vane
I already wrote one a couple of days ago. Valuable book for it's history of food/seed conservation and for understanding what's at stake with all the troubles in the Fertile... Read morePublished 9 months ago by carmelinasma
Book would be interesting to readers involved in food, plant history, biodiversity, etc. May not be a fast read for the general reader.Published 14 months ago by Lynne K.
This book was maybe long and seemed boring to follow all the places that he went, but the facts remain how dangerously close the world could become with an end to our food supply... Read morePublished on October 19, 2013 by Eileen Abers
This historical detailed analysis of Vavilov's record of centers of biodiversity explains why his quest was / is central to the future of food. Read morePublished on July 24, 2013 by Carol Thompson
I've read several of Nabhan's books and this one did not disappoint. Along with being a critical look at Vavilov's work, it was a real education in the origins our our food.Published on February 24, 2013 by VDG
The description of this book is much, much more exciting than the actual book. There is a reason this book is hard to locate. Read morePublished on July 30, 2012 by Kndl Fan