📺 Seed: The Untold Story | Independent Lens (PBS), S18 E13

Seed: The Untold Story by Taggart Siegel and Jon Betz (Independent Lens | PBS)
Worshiped and treasured since the dawn of humankind, few things on Earth are as miraculous and vital as seeds. SEED: The Untold Story follows passionate seed keepers intent on protecting our 12,000 year-old food legacy. In the last century, 94% of our seed varieties have disappeared. This once abundant seed diversity — painstakingly created by ancient farmers and gardeners over countless millennia — has been drastically winnowed down to a handful of mass-produced varieties. Under the spell of industrial "progress" and corporate profits, family farmsteads have given way to mechanized agribusinesses sowing genetically identical crops on a massive scale. But without seed diversity, crop diseases rise and empires fall. More than a cautionary tale of "man against nature," SEED reveals the work of farmers, scientists, lawyers, and indigenous seed keepers who are fighting a David versus Goliath battle to defend the future of our food. In a story both harrowing and heartening, we meet a wide variety of reluctant heroes working to rekindle a lost connection to our most treasured resource, from the pueblos of New Mexico to a seed bunker in Norway, from India to America’s heartland, from Peru to Hawaii. Among the dozens of people featured are Will Bonsall of the Scatterseed Project, Dr. Jane Goodall, environmental lawyer Claire Hope Cummings, ethnobotanist Gary Paul Nabhan, botanical explorer Joseph Simcox, Andrew Kimbrell of the Center for Food Safety, and physicist/activist Dr. Vandana Shiva. SEED explores the hidden fabric of our food and the people that painstakingly and meticulously curate its diversity, in an era of climate uncertainty and immense corporate power.

This was an interesting documentary on seed which people obviously take heavily for granted.

I think I preferred the shorter podcasts I recently listened to: Why Save Seeds and Seed Law on the fantastic Eat This Podcast [1][2] mostly because they were a bit more scientific and policy-minded. This documentary was interesting, told some great personal stories, but could be viewed as not the most balanced of presentations. It obviously went for a more uplifting and poignant stance surrounding the people and the communities as well as their stories.

It could easily have spent 20-30 minutes delving into more of the science and the policy portions of the story to better underpin the overall arc of the story and simply had a longer 90 minute running time instead of just an hour spent primarily focused on trying to pull simply at our heartstrings.

I agree that the decrease in diversity of our seed stores is an appalling travesty, but the topic deserves better coverage and a more nuanced viewpoint of the relevant science and policy could have done far more to get people interested in the subject. I certainly would have appreciated it.

References

[1]
J. Cherfas, “Why save seeds?,” Eat This Podcast, 07-Oct-2013. [Online]. Available: http://www.eatthispodcast.com/why-save-seeds/. [Accessed: 25-Apr-2017]
[2]
J. Cherfas, “Seed Law,” Eat This Podcast, 27-May-2013. [Online]. Available: http://www.eatthispodcast.com/seed-law/. [Accessed: 25-Apr-2017]
Syndicated copies to:

📺 Divided States of America, Part 2 | Frontline

Divided States of America, Part 2 (FRONTLINE | PBS, aired January 18, 2017)
FRONTLINE investigates the partisanship of the Obama era, and the polarized America that Donald Trump inherits as president.

The second part of this wasn’t as fraught as the first half, but both are simply scintillating and well worth watching.

📺 Divided States of America, Part 1 | Frontline

Divided States of America, Part 1 (FRONTLINE | PBS, aired January 17, 2017)
FRONTLINE investigates the partisanship of the Obama era, and the polarized America that Donald Trump inherits as president.

Ahead of Donald Trump's inauguration, "Divided States of America" looks back at events during President Barack Obama's years in office that revealed deep divisions in our country. The documentary offers an in-depth view of the partisan gridlock in Washington, the rise of populist anger on both sides of the aisle, and the racial tensions that erupted throughout the country.

What a stunning overview of the last eight years of partisan politics. In particular I had forgotten about a lot of the rancor and racism stemming from the far right when Obama took office. This two part documentary does a terrific job of reminding us where we’ve all been and puts a lot of our current situation into perspective. The first part here was particularly brutal in its coverage. It seems almost too balanced to the point that the subtext of the documentary is that politicians need to find a better way to get along to do more good for their constituents.

Syndicated copies to: