* The Story of Seeds: From Mendel’s Garden to Your Plate, and How There’s More of Less to Eat around the World.
Feb 2016. 144 p. HMH, hardcover, $17.99. (9780544320239
Just like a seed, this deceptively small book is packed with potent life. While the requisite overview of seed biology is included, Castaldo’s discussion of how seeds—and subsequently worldwide food sources, biodiversity, and sustainability—are involved in international politics, economic history, genetic research, and many other areas makes this especially unique and fascinating from many perspectives. Her brief chapters read like well-researched, conversational magazine articles, which will likely appeal not only to students but also environmentally conscious adults. Meanwhile, substantive sidebars and plentiful, well- reproduced color photos feature seeds and plants, of course, but also a wide variety of notable people and places. Her scope is significant, spanning history and geography, and multidisciplinary, focusing not only on botany but also the complex technology used in safeguarding heritage species and plant viability. Pinpointing an important human element, she also features “seed warriors,” who work in science, public policy, and activism, as well as public library seed programs, all of which add to the mix of rich and intellectually delicious nutritional information here. This stellar interdisciplinary resource may need hand- selling to get readers beyond its plain package, but be prepared to satisfy readers’ thirst for more information about, for instance, protecting Russia’s international seed vaults during WWII, finding Glass Gem corn, and fighting biopiracy. A terrific, engrossing resource.
— Francisca Goldsmith