decolonise earth relations food learning reviews

the seed thief resources + study list – afrikan reads book review

I have begun doing Youtube book reviews in a new series titled “Afrikan Reads”. Check out the first video on my Youtube channel, a review of the book “The Seed Thief” by Jacqui L’Ange.

Let me know how you like it, subscribe for more, and here is an accompanying resource and reading list on many things seed.

various indigenous seeds and seed accoutrements in Tharaka-land.

on seed – a resource and study list

“Many familiar foods—millet, sorghum, coffee, okra, watermelon, and the “Asian” long bean, for example—are native to Africa, while commercial products such as Coca Cola, Worcestershire Sauce, and Palmolive Soap rely on African plants that were brought to the Americas on slave ships as provisions, medicines, cordage, and bedding.”

“A major argument of the book is that multiple innovators – rural communities, healers, scientists and drug companies – contributed to the shaping of scientific knowledge concerning therapeutic plants, but they benefited differently. The six plants in question were used medicinally by healers and by lay communities. However, the patents developed from the plants recognised only the intellectual efforts of the colonial and postcolonial scientists.”

“Reviving seeds as commons, through a telling of seeds as story, we move from seed as object to seed as relation, making visible that which has been concealed and hidden from sovereignty.”

Streetscape in Salavador da Bahia, Brazil where much of the action in the book The Seed Thief takes place


“Synthetic nitrogen use, they argue, creates a kind of treadmill effect. As organic matter dissipates, soil’s ability to store organic nitrogen declines. A large amount of nitrogen then leaches away, fouling ground water in the form of nitrates, and entering the atmosphere as nitrous oxide (N2O), a greenhouse gas with some 300 times the heat-trapping power of carbon dioxide. In turn, with its ability to store organic nitrogen compromised, only one thing can help heavily fertilized farmland keep cranking out monster yields: more additions of synthetic N.”

“seeds in a seed bank are locked away, not reproducing, waiting for plant scientists or a planetary food emergency to call them into action. This is why, to their proponents, seed libraries occupy an important (if still small) role in that bigger story: They actually bring plants into circulation, town by town, encouraging local variety and even potentially developing new strains. “The more seeds you can get out into the field, the broader the base of conservation… In the gene bank, evolution is frozen, there’s no more natural crossing.”

  • Utviklingsfondet, ‘Banking for the Future: Savings, Security and Seeds. A short study of community seed banks in Bangladesh, Costa Rica, Ethiopia, Honduras, India, Nepal, Thailand, Zambia and Zimbabwe’ [report]
  • On the history of the state of global patenting and seed breeding: Carolan, ‘A sharing economy for plants’ [article]

“As a result, the majority of commercial crops and garden plants in use today were developed by agricultural companies, to the point that three companies – Bayer Monsanto, DuPont and Syngenta – account for roughly 50 percent of all global seed sales.”

Let me know what you think about this new series on the video or in the comments below 🙂



Talk to me