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Original Essays | April 11, 2014

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I was sitting in a British and Irish romantic drama class my last semester in college when the idea for Shit Rough Drafts hit me. I was working... Continue »
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Hybrid: The History & Science of Plant Breeding

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Hybrid: The History & Science of Plant Breeding Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Disheartened by the shrink-wrapped, Styrofoam-packed state of contemporary supermarket fruits and vegetables, many shoppers hark back to a more innocent time, to visions of succulent red tomatoes plucked straight from the vine, gleaming orange carrots pulled from loamy brown soil, swirling heads of green lettuce basking in the sun.

 

With Hybrid, Noel Kingsbury reveals that even those imaginary perfect foods are themselves far from anything that could properly be called natural; rather, they represent the end of a millennia-long history of selective breeding and hybridization. Starting his story at the birth of agriculture, Kingsbury traces the history of human attempts to make plants more reliable, productive, and nutritious—a story that owes as much to accident and error as to innovation and experiment. Drawing on historical and scientific accounts, as well as a rich trove of anecdotes, Kingsbury shows how scientists, amateur breeders, and countless anonymous farmers and gardeners slowly caused the evolutionary pressures of nature to be supplanted by those of human needs—and thus led us from sparse wild grasses to succulent corn cobs, and from mealy, white wild carrots to the juicy vegetables we enjoy today. At the same time, Kingsbury reminds us that contemporary controversies over the Green Revolution and genetically modified crops are not new; plant breeding has always had a political dimension.

 

A powerful reminder of the complicated and ever-evolving relationship between humans and the natural world, Hybrid will give readers a thoughtful new perspective on—and a renewed appreciation of—the cereal crops, vegetables, fruits, and flowers that are central to our way of life.

About the Author

Noel Kingsbury is a horticulturalist and writer, and the author of many books, including Designing with Plants and Natural Gardening in Small Spaces, and coeditor of Vista: The Culture and Politics of Gardens.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments

A Note on Names

 

Introduction

 

Part One

From the Birth of Agriculture to the Birth of Genetics

 

One. Origins: The Domestication of Plants

 

Two. Landraces: Bedrock of Traditional Agriculture

 

Three. “Improvement”: The Agricultural Revolution

 

Four. Vegetable Mules: The Beginnings of Deliberate Breeding

 

Five. Empire: Globalization in Earnest

 

Six. Breakthrough: Gregor Mendel

 

Seven. Germination: Mendelism and Plant Breeding in the Early Twentieth Century

 

Eight. Luther Burbank: Miracle Worker or Charlatan?

 

Nine. “Let History Judge”: Plant Breeding and Politics in the USSR

 

Part Two

Flowering of a Technology

 

Ten. Hybrid! Corn and the Brave New World of F1­ Hybridization

 

Eleven. Cornucopia: Genetics Opens up the Horn of Plenty

 

Twelve. Green Revolution: Can Plant Breeding Feed the World?

 

Thirteen. Ornament: Furnishing Our Gardens

 

Fourteen. Ownership and Diversity: Issues of Property Rights over Plant Genetic Resources

 

Fifteen. Conclusions

 

Technical Notes

Bibliographic Essay

Works Cited and Consulted

Index

Product Details

ISBN:
9780226437132
Author:
Kingsbury, Noel
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
Subject:
History
Subject:
Agriculture - Crop Science
Edition Description:
Paperback
Publication Date:
20111131
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Language:
English
Pages:
512
Dimensions:
9 x 6 in

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