“Everyone thinks that the principal thing to the tree is the fruit, but in fact the principal thing to it is the seed.” Friedrich Nietzsche
One company now controls the genetics of nearly 90 percent of corn, soybeans, cotton, canola and sugar beets. That same company owns 70 percent of traditional seeds.
Seeds. The building blocks of our food system.
For most of us, seeds are refuse. They are what we caution our kids not to choke on. The parts we scoop out, cut out and spit out. When we think of the origins of our food, our thoughts float from pigs packed into confined feedlots to cows grazing on grass, from undocumented workers picking grapes to grandfathers casting fishing lines. We think of top chefs, iron chefs and master chefs; slow food and fast. But, rarely, do we think of the seed.
That has to change.
Of the roughly 2,600 calories Americans consume each day, 1,700 of them come directly from seeds. Nearly one-fourth of these calories show up on our plates (not to mention our thighs and bellies) in the form of grains at rates that are 30-50 percent higher than USDA federal dietary recommendations. Fats and sugars—from the butter on our bread to the icing on our cake—are our next greatest caloric hurdles, followed by vegetables, nuts and fruit. Our remaining 900 calories come from seeds buried a bit deeper into our food chain: the animals that comprise our meat, poultry, eggs, dairy products and additional fats that are raised on grains, legumes (soy) and grasses. Our fish, the most popular varieties of which are now raised on farms instead of caught in the ocean, are fattened up and made Omega-6 rich on corn and soy meal.
We focus on what we see on our plate—the bread, the bacon, the eggs, and the side of fruit—but it is the seed, no bigger than a dot on the page, that is the buried foundation of our food system and the critical building block of every meal we eat.