The Walking Dead, and Gardening in a Post−Factory Food Landscape

October 18, 2012
By Holly Jennings

If you are running for your life in a landscape infested with zombies, aka “walkers,” and devoid of a modern food distribution system, would you grab your guns or seeds?

In “Seed,” the first episode of this season’s apocolypic zombie series The Walking Dead, Hershel, one-time-farmer now “walker” killer, muses that the caged bit of open green the show’s characters find themselves in could be a planting field for tomatoes, cucumbers, and soy beans.

In this temporary oasis, they have land, symbolized by the dirt Hershel allows to run through his fingers as his imaginary vegetable garden takes shape. But oops! No seeds.

Even if Hershel had the presence of mind to grab seeds as he and the other survivors made a narrow escape from his farm, they’d still be screwed if they were modern, hybrid seeds.

Without heirloom seeds, Hershel’s dream garden would provide vegetables for just one season. Only heirloom open-pollinated seeds can be self-sustaining, saved back and replanted year after year.

Hershel’s go-to soybean crop reflects his conventional farmer mind. In the West, soybeans are largely of value in an industrialized food system with a structure in place for utilizing them in factory-made foods. Unless you’re planning to consume soybeans and soybean products as vegetarians or Asians do, in the form of tofu, soy milk, or edamame, for example, which is not I suspect what Hershel had in mind, soybeans only make sense as crop with industrialized food systems in place. Hershel hasn’t yet made the leap from conventional farmer to a self-sustaining, survivor farmer. And in world overrun with walkers, you’ve got to be the latter.

(Click here to learn more about heirloom seeds.)


0 Comments to “The Walking Dead, and Gardening in a Post−Factory Food Landscape”

  1. Wendy Forbes says:

    Great post, Holly! A new twist on “food security”. Actually does make me want to ensure I have a store of heirloom seeds just in case.



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