Documentary plants seeds of agricultural reform

Whitney Clum

While some people go out for food on Saturday nights, the Washburn theatre airs movies about food. 

In an effort to raise awareness about the plummeting variety of seeds available in the world, the 2016 documentary “Seed: The Untold Story” was aired in the Andrew J and Georgia Neese Gray Theatre Feb. 24. The film rounded out a trilogy of films directed by Taggart Siegel that explores the relationships between food, culture and Mother Earth. After a brief introduction about the importance of the subject matter, the film was off and running. 

“It was something that I subscribe to, and I got it online and they offered the movie, you know and I thought, this would be so nice to show at Washburn,” said Lynn Wilson, who arranged for the movie to be shown. “I’m very interested in our seed supply, and being healthy and living. Seeds are the root of all our life.” 

Screened to a small audience, “Seed: The Untold Story” spent its hour and a half runtime threading together separate stories about how different cultures preserved their seeds and farming traditions, problems that have cropped up in communities due to the biotechnology industry, and short clips of seed banks. 

“It’s incredibly interesting that we have only four percent of what we started out with our food supply, and that, like, humans are so focused on money and profit instead of saving diversity,” said sophomore human services major Rheagan Hageman. “I thought it was interesting, they touched on different cultures.” 

The movie began by reeling off statistics regarding how the diversity of seeds has diminished over the years, and how individuals are rushing to save what we have. Some, such the members of the Hopi tribe shown in the movie, are motivated by both practical and cultural reasons, some focus on planting what they have to generate more seeds, while other’s main concern is storing warehouses of the different types of seeds, called seed banks. 

After that, the tone of the movie shifts from having a conservation focus to highlighting current day issues that native populations in Hawaii and members of India’s suicide belt have with Monsanto. 

“Kind of an interesting example is, originally there were 544 cabbage varieties, and now only 28 remain. I’m so bummed about all that,” said Wison. “People need to eat and live, and that’s so important to have good food, and to have diverse seeds.” 

The documentary, mainly advertised to the biology department, indicated the possibility of individual departments in conjunction with the theatre department airing documentaries relevant to their interests in Garvey on a more regular basis. Documentaries about major-specific topics and issues open to the entire university could be a way to show students from other disciplines important topics in areas they would normally not have anything to do with, hopefully giving students interesting questions or points as take-away’s. 

“I think what I’d like people to get out of the movie is that it’s really important for people not to buy hybrid seeds,” said Wilson. “Save your seeds from year to year.”