The Future of Food Lies in These Old Seeds

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The 20th century saw the rise of a consolidated agriculture sector that demanded volume and efficiency. That led to a drop in the number of varieties available to farmers from commercial seed companies and the resulting handful of mass-produced vegetable varieties in our grocery stores. But farmer-entrepreneurs have joined with plant-breeding scientists and even high-profile chefs to remake food from the seed up.

Such collaborations could serve as a model for others around the country seeking good organic varieties for their own fields and kitchens. Already, Stephen S. Jones, a wheat breeder and professor at Washington State University, says he’s contacted at least three times a week by farmers in other states, seeking new varieties or wheat tailored for their region and needs.

If successful, they’ll soon be providing more of us with fruits, vegetables, and grains bred to thrive in the various microclimates around the country — suiting the needs of small farmers, artisan bakers and brewers, and chefs — and with correspondingly greater flavor, texture, and nutrient density.

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