SEED: The Untold Story

Rated: Not Rated

        As I mentioned in my review of the 2014 film Fed Up, I’ve long been interested in learning about where my food comes from, what’s in it, and what I can do to both feed my family, and protect the environment and its many gifts. At times this seems like a futile uphill battle. I struggle with the cliché thought of “can one person REALLY make a difference?” and often feel like the answer is no.
        But just when I’ve decided things are hopeless and my personal efforts are pointless, someone releases a documentary that renews my strength and resolve to do better. In 2008 it was
Food Inc., in 2014 it was Fed Up, and this year it’s SEED: The Untold Story. SEED: The Untold Story tells the stories of a few of the world’s seed collectors and keepers, and their efforts to protect our biodiversity, food supply and 12,000 year old history of agriculture.
        Over the years I’ve watched so many documentaries pertaining to these subjects that I tend to avoid them now. I’ve found that many of them just rehash the same information as the rest, and so I don’t learn very much. I was skeptical of
SEED for this reason, but after watching the trailer I was intrigued none the less.
Vandana Shiva in SEED: The Untold Story (Photo courtesy of Collective Eye Films)

Vandana Shiva in SEED: The Untold Story (Photo courtesy of Collective Eye Films)

         It turns out that my skepticism was totally unfounded. I took notes as I watched, and ended up filling three full pages with information I hadn’t known before. For example: Since 1903 we’ve lost 94% of our seed diversity worldwide. There are over 30,000 edible plants on earth, but people only regularly consume 120 of them, with a mere 10 subsisting most of humanity. These 10 include wheat, corn, potatoes and rice, among a few others. 
        As Gary Paul Nabhan says in the film, “Many of our seeds today are as endangered as a panda or polar bear.” I don’t think the direness of this issue could’ve been explained more beautifully. People tend to care more about polar bears or pandas because they’re seen as cute and cuddly, but people don’t eat polar bears or pandas. There are plenty of omnivores the world over, but everyone eats at least some plants, whether they admit it or not, making this loss in diversity a major issue on many fronts.
        Often times in documentaries the time seems to drag a bit, no matter the actual length, or the subject. That wasn’t the case with
SEED. Co-directors Jon Betz and Taggart Siegel presented the information contained within the film in such a way as to make the time fly by, to the point that you don’t realize how much you’ve learned until the end.
        The film is like a visual song. Betz and Siegel take things that most people see as mundane (seeds, fruits and vegetables and small-scale farming) and make them sensuous, dazzling and stunning. It’s hard to make an imperfect thing that has come from the ground look as precious as the rarest of gems, but that’s what this film does, through imagery, animation and interviews.
RoundUp Ready GMO Corn in SEED: The Untold Story (Photo courtesy of Collective Eye Films)

RoundUp Ready GMO Corn in SEED: The Untold Story (Photo courtesy of Collective Eye Films)

        Whether or not you’re “into” the farm to table movement, organic gardening, or truly knowing where your food comes from,
Seed: The Untold Story is not to be missed. It presents important information that should be paid attention to by city and country dweller alike, in a way that is ultimately bipartisan and uplifting, despite its seriousness. It urges us all to care a little more, both about the tallest trees, and about the smallest and rarest of seeds. They say in the film that our entire history is contained within some of these seeds; shouldn’t we all work harder to ensure that that history isn’t lost forever?

SEED: The Untold Story is not rated, was written and directed by Jon Betz and Taggart Siegel. It includes interviews with Jane Goodall, Andrew Kimbrell, Vandana Shiva and many more. It will be in theaters beginning September 23, 2016. For more information about the film and where to catch a screening visit