This Season Two episode was chosen for a special Encore Broadcast in Season Three.
As heirloom seeds continue to lose ground to modern hybrids, habitat destruction and careless stewardship, many of these diverse and treasured varieties of the past are lost forever.
Prior to the 1940’s, vegetables were grown closer to home and breeding focused on things like flavor, texture, and disease resistance. Seed and sharing seed was common, and favorite varieties were protected and passed down through generations.
In the 1940’s we also began breeding and hybridizing crops for agriculture, specifically for ease of transport hundreds or thousands of miles to the grocery store and still look pretty in the produce bin once it gets there. In some cases, flavor took a back seat to traits like shelf life, thicker skins for transport, or consistent size. Even for future F1 hybridization, the parent stock must be kept true.
With the new threat of cross-pollination from GM (genetically modified) plants, preserving true, untainted heirloom seed varieties is not only important, it’s vital to ensuring the ongoing supply of non-altered plants and a critical link to preserving our past. In this episode, we get a hands-on lesson in saving seeds and learn more about how to preserve the integrity of true organic seed stock.
For more information:
- Chef Nathan’s Spicy Watermelon Gazpacho
- Organic Seed Alliance
- Sow True Seed
- Dwindling Food/Seed Variety on NationalGeographic.com