When I saw the title of this book, I thought Never Out Of Season meant the main point of the book was that our desire to eat food like strawberries and asparagus every day of the year isn’t good for us or the supply of food.
We need to eat foods when they come into season, not those forced by greenhouses or grown in places that aren’t indigenous.
Instead, it’s an interesting book about an evolutionary arms race between our food crops verse their pests and diseases.
The author, Rob Dunn, also describes the heroic efforts made by scientists in desperate times (like war) to save seed collections to retain genetic diversity in our essential crops.
In some cases, scientists and those that cared for these seed collections died of starvation while surrounded by grain seeds that would’ve sustained them.
Instead, they sacrificed their lives so others could plant grain seeds after the war.
He includes the scientists’ personal stories and political strife that save many of the plants we rely on for food and economic gain. As well as the efforts and hardships they endured to find and breed plant strains resistant to pests and diseases.
Jack Harlan (1917-1998)
” The Destruction of genetic resources is caused primarily by the very success of modern plant breeding programs.”
Dunn explains how monoculture farming depends on chemicals to maintain production and fight off disease and pests.
He does this by explaining how historical famines and crop failures of potatoes, bananas, cacao, coffee, rubber trees, rice, and wheat started, spread, and in many cases, how social and political issues added to the troubles.
All the stories about the scientists who have worked to save seeds and those who study pests and diseases that affect the various food crops are interesting and fascinating!
As most of us can believe, the world’s food supply is too dependent on big agriculture and chemical manufacturers and the decreasing number of major seed producers.
Not so many years ago, every town (in some cases, every farm) grew plants with unique genetics matched to the local environment by saving their seeds.
Now, not only are there fewer farmers, but new seeds are bought each year from the same few seed producers. This decreases genetic variation and doesn’t allow natural selection to work locally.
On a small, local, and personal scale, we all should be searching out the plants that grow best in our area, whether growing them ourselves or buying from the farmer at local markets and farm stands.
Two Cool Educational Websites
Dunn is involved in two organizations dedicated to providing students and teachers with educational science projects.
How Does It Rate
I rate Never Out of Season a 4 out of 5 ratings.
It’s a four because the title misled me. However, I’m glad I read the book.
The book was very interesting. I learned a lot about how close we really are to major worldwide famine because we don’t know as much about the plants we eat, the pests and diseases that affect them, or the organisms that protect our food plants by preying on the harmful pests and diseases.
We need to increase research efforts and funding to investigate pest and disease cycles, improve genetic diversity in the main food crops, and decrease our reliance on only a few main food crops.
More Personal Gardens
Remember victory gardens in wartime?
I think we should go back to growing more of our food. Make more of an effort to replace a section of our lawns or join a community garden.
At the very least, purchase food from local growers or farm markets that don’t resell imported foods.
Change our diets by reducing our dependence on the three or four main grain crops and eating fresh food grown and stored locally.
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