Ever wondered where seeds come from? Or what is the difference between industrial and rural seeds? Or which seeds you should use in your garden? Slow Food, an international movement supporting good, clean and fair food for all, has created a comprehensive guide covering everything you could possibly want to know about the foundation of our food: seeds.

Despite being an integral part of every meal we eat, many of us don’t give a second thought to the seeds that are used to produce our food. But an understanding of seeds is crucial when thinking about the issues facing our food system. Of the 80,000 edible species available for food production, only 150 are currently grown by farmers. This can have serious implications for both our health and our food security, as diversity in the species of crops we cultivate allows us to be more resilient when it comes to climate shocks, such as drought. 

Seeds According to Slow Food has been written with consumers and home growers in mind. For consumers, it emphasises the connection between seeds and the food we buy, whether that’s fruit, vegetables, bread, pasta or even meat. Farming communities around the world have always selected, saved and shared seeds among themselves. However, today, more than 50% of the global seed market is controlled by three seed companies, which could have far-reaching effects on farmers and growers everywhere. As the guide explains:

For farmers, seeds are much more than an instrument of production: they are a language, a series of rituals or gastronomic heritage, and an expression of a culture that has consolidated itself over time, deeply rooted in the land.

If industry standards that impose the use of only a few patented seeds take hold, farmers may lose the right to reproduce, save and sow seeds from their own land. This could impact food sovereignty and the freedom to choose what to eat. Who would have thought that a tiny seed could hold so much power?!

For gardening enthusiasts, the guide contains practical advice on how to choose the right seeds, how to store and save seeds, the importance of using local varieties and how to avoid less reliable seeds or those that have been treated with chemicals and fungicides.

To download the guide, visit www.slowfood.com/sloweurope, where you can also learn more about the organisation’s campaign to protect and preserve seeds in order to safeguard their diverse biological and cultural heritage.

Photograph: USDA

Sign up to our Newsletter

Stay up to date with the latest SFT views and news