The Seed Detective: Uncovering the Secret Histories of Remarkable Vegetables

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Meet the Indiana Jones of vegetables and join him on his quest to save our heritage produce.

*Named BBC Radio 4's The Food Programme "Book of the Year"

*2023 GardenComm Media Awards Silver Laurel Medal of Achievement

*Shortlisted for the Garden Media Guild’s Garden Book of the Year Award 2023

*Longlisted for The Art of Eating Prize 2023

"[This book] is a clarion call to think about our food in new ways and carefully consider where it comes from."―New Scientist

Did you ever wonder how peas, kale, asparagus, beans, squash, and corn have ended up on our plates? Well, so did Adam Alexander.

Adam Alexander is The Seed Detective. His passion for vegetables was ignited when he tasted an unusual sweet pepper with a fiery heart while on a filmmaking project in Ukraine. Smitten by its flavor, Adam began to seek out local growers of endangered heritage and heirloom varieties in a mission to bring home seeds to grow, share, and return so that he could enjoy their delicious taste―and save them from being lost forever.

In The Seed Detective, Adam shares his own stories of seed hunting, with the origin stories behind many of our everyday food heroes. Taking us on a journey that began when we left the life of the hunter-gatherer to become farmers, he tells tales of globalization, political intrigue, colonization, and serendipity―describing how these vegetables and their travels have become embedded in our food cultures.

“We are a nation of vegetable growers and this book explores the wonderful world of rare and endangered heritage and heirloom vegetables – and why we must keep growing them and saving their seed, not only for our gardening and culinary pleasure, but to pass these stories on – vegetables are truly our history on a plate.”―The Seed Detective

"Copious but thoroughly engaging research . . . Alexander shares his excitement over the potential for rescuing this lost heritage. . . All of which makes this title worth a serious look."―Booklist (starred)

"[The Seed Detective] traces the origins and evolution of vegetables that have shaped human civilization."―Atlas Obscura

“[A] spirited introduction to the contemporary seed-saving movement. . . . With entertaining anecdotes that feature Syrian fava beans, Ukrainian sweet peppers and broad beans from Myanmar, Alexander's horticultural adventures will surely stimulate and unleash readers' inner gardeners.”―Shelf Awareness

"For Adam Alexander seeds are more than just a job, hobby or passion. They’re a lifeline."―Modern Farmer