Where Our Food Comes From traces the path of Nikolay Vavilov, a Russian scientist who embarked on a mission to collect and store seeds from around the world. According to Nabhan, Vavilov was the first to fully articulate the connections between food diversity, health and food security–all of which are hot topics in agriculture and nutrition (23). Vavilov’s journey and contribution to science and agriculture was certainly profound.
The book follows Vavilov’s path, a small part of which was recently retraced by Nabhan himself. Entwined in the story is that of the WWII era communist government of the Soviet Union, which was ultimately responsible for Vavilov’s premature death, despite his extraordinary and successful efforts to preserve plants for future generations.
A clear picture of Vavilov’s life is painted, but the book reads a bit like a history lesson. Hopefully the book inspires others to continue Vavilov’s life work, however it is unlikely to provide much in the way of entertainment.
- “Today, America educates its rural youth to aspire to be anything but a farmer” (137).
- “[Vavilov is] the man who more than anyone else in history helped humankind appreciate where our food has come from” (190).