The Story of Seeds, Think Global, Act Local – Book Recommendation

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Title: The Story of Seeds, Think Global, Act Local; Our Food is in Crisis. What will you do to protect it?

Author: Nancy F. Castaldo

Photos (mainly) by: Nancy F. Castaldo

Genre: Nonfiction

 Publisher: Hougthon Mifflin Harcourt, 2016

Ages: 11+

Themes: seeds, agriculture, food, genetic modification, biodiversity, climate change, poverty, seed biology, environmental science


You spit a watermelon seed onto your plate, wishing your slice were seedless. You flick the black dots into the trash before loading the dishwasher. They’re garbage, right?


Something as small as a seed can have a worldwide impact. Did you know there are top-secret seed vaults hidden throughout the world? And once a seed disappears, that’s it—it’s gone forever? With the growth of genetically modified foods, the use of many seeds is dwindling—of 80,000 edible plants, only about 150 are being cultivated. With a global cast of men and women, scientists and laypeople, and photographic documentation, Nancy Castaldo chronicles where our food comes from, and where it is going as she digs deeper into the importance of seeds in our world

Why I like this book:

I am so happy to see this 2016 book is now out in paperback. If anything its pertinence sadly only increases with each year as corporations and governments do not heed this sort of wisdom. It is a very readable and succinct (but not lacking complexity) way to introduce younger (and adult) readers to seeds. Every page is chock full of eye-opening details, photos and information, with a very compelling call to action at the end.

It includes brief stories about the importance of seeds to humanity and individuals championing this knowledge, and includes fascinating information on: developing new varieties of seed, long-term storage in high-tech seed banks, the differences between traditional seed selection and GMO seeds, and the legal issues surrounds GMO crops. The book is also made more personal by the individual stories and impact of policies, such as suicide rates among Indian farmers.

This is a subject I have been interested in for twenty years when I started planting heirloom seeds in my own garden and understanding biodiversity more, and I highly recommend this book for middle and high school libraries with its great mix of science, history and advocacy.

 “Some 75 percent of plant genetic diversity has been lost since the 1900’s… Only 150 plant species are being grown for sale of the 12,000 plant species used for human food…Eight grains are traded throughout the world and rice, wheat, and maize are where half of our calories come from… One in five plants are threatened with extinction”. 


The book includes: color photos, pop out boxes, contents, index, glossary, timeline, sources, investigate further …

Curriculum Connections: Poverty, Agriculture, Culinary, Technology & Engineering, Environmental Science, Biodiversity, Seed Biology

Teachers can use this free guide from Nancy’s website.

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4 Responses to The Story of Seeds, Think Global, Act Local – Book Recommendation

  1. Thanks for taking another look at this book. I’m so happy that the paperback edition will be more accessible for readers! Food security is an important issue for all of us. Teachers can download a free guide on my website

  2. Jilanne Hoffmann says:

    I missed this book when it came out. Some of the legal issues around Corporations trying to put organic farmers out of business (I’m thinking corn, for examples.) make me fume. Actually, much about our current state of agriculture makes me fume. I do like how some places are trying to keep an inventory of “heirloom” seeds. It’s so difficult! I’ll be putting this on my TBR list. Thanks, Joanna!

  3. Patricia Nozell says:

    This looks like a terrific read for adult gardeners, too!

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