of cultivars, human tenacity, and madness

the common bean, which, contrary to popular belief, does not outlive us, has been cultivated for centuries by humans. as a result, it cannot survive in the wild. human intention is required for its preservation and continuance. we once preserved dozens of varieties, but today’s supermarkets present only one or two.

the so-called supermarket, where monocropping supply meets mass demand, is not really a market at all but the invention of corporations. it serves corporate requirements first, human need as an afterthought. what happens when a blight cripples the monocrop supply? prices go up and shortages appear, possibly even famine. ask cubans what happened when the soviet union collapsed.

but there exists a solution. it requires community and effort, it’s called diversity. but to stand up to corporations, to preserve the varieties of the common bean, you have to be a little mad. in the anonymous madness of a few, then, rests the fate of all.

[after reading ‘enduring seeds–the sacred lotus and the common bean’ by gary nabhan in the nature reader, 140-147]


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