The Seed Detective


Author: Adam Alexander
ISBN: 9781915294241
Format: B-Format Paperback
Publisher: Chelsea Green

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Radio 4’s The Food Programme Book of the Year, chosen by Dan Saladino

Longlisted for The Art of Eating Prize 2023

‘If you’re a vegetable growing addict or just curious about their origins, there’s something for everyone in Adam’s new book.’ Rob Smith, TV presenter

‘The writing is rich . . . [This book] is a clarion call to think about our food in new ways and carefully consider where it comes from.’ New Scientist

Meet the Indiana Jones of vegetables on his quest to save our heritage produce. Have you ever wondered how everyday staples such as peas, kale, asparagus, beans, squash and sweetcorn ended up on our plates? Well, so did Adam Alexander. Adam’s passion for heritage vegetables was ignited when he tasted an unusual, sweet and fiery pepper while on a filmmaking project in Ukraine.

Smitten by its flavour, he began to seek out local growers of old and near-forgotten varieties in a mission to bring home seeds to grow and share – saving them from being lost forever. In The Seed Detective, Adam tells of his far flung (and closer to home) seed-hunting adventures and reveals the stories behind many of our everyday vegetable heroes. How the common garden pea was domesticated from three wild species over 8,500 years ago, that the first carrots originated in Afghanistan (and were actually purple or red in colour), how Egyptian priests considered it a crime to look at a fava bean and that the Romans were fanatical about asparagus.

Join The Seed Detective as he takes us on a journey that began when we left the life of hunter-gatherers to become farmers. Sharing storiesof globalisation, political intrigue, colonisation and serendipity, Adam shows us the vital part vegetables have played in our food story – and how they are the key to our future. ‘Informative, enlightening and entertaining but also important.’ Mark Diacono’One of the most inspirational books I have encountered.’ Darina Allen

Additional information


Adam Alexander


B-Format Paperback


Chelsea Green