Forum - Beyond the news
home news forum careers events suppliers solutions markets resources directories advertise contacts search news site plan
SeedQuest presents
The University of Chicago Press
1427 E. 60th Street
Chicago, IL 60637

You may purchase this title
at University of Chicago Press
at these fine bookstores
or at Amazon

Hybrid: The History and Science of Plant Breeding
by Noel Kingsbury
Copyright © 2009 The University of Chicago Press
Published by The University of Chicago Press


Disheartened by the shrink-wrapped, Styrofoam-packed state of contemporary supermarket fruits and vegetables, many shoppers hark back to a more innocent time, to visions of succulent red tomatoes plucked straight from the vine, gleaming orange carrots pulled from loamy brown soil, swirling heads of green lettuce basking in the sun.

With Hybrid, Noel Kingsbury reveals that even those imaginary perfect foods are themselves far from anything that could properly be called natural; rather, they represent the end of a millennia-long history of selective breeding and hybridization. Starting his story at the birth of agriculture, Kingsbury traces the history of human attempts to make plants more reliable, productive, and nutritious—a story that owes as much to accident and error as to innovation and experiment. Drawing on historical and scientific accounts, as well as a rich trove of anecdotes, Kingsbury shows how scientists, amateur breeders, and countless anonymous farmers and gardeners slowly caused the evolutionary pressures of nature to be supplanted by those of human needs—and thus led us from sparse wild grasses to succulent corn cobs, and from mealy, white wild carrots to the juicy vegetables we enjoy today. At the same time, Kingsbury reminds us that contemporary controversies over the Green Revolution and genetically modified crops are not new; plant breeding has always had a political dimension.

A powerful reminder of the complicated and ever-evolving relationship between humans and the natural world, Hybrid will give readers a thoughtful new perspective on—and a renewed appreciation of—the cereal crops, vegetables, fruits, and flowers that are central to our way of life.


Noel Kingsbury is internationally known as a writer on gardening, both private and public – and has carved out a particular reputation for his promotion of an approach to planting design which is based on ecological science. At both home (in Britain) and in North America his magazine articles and books have done much to help shift garden fashion away from conventional notions of formality and ‘tidiness’ towards a more naturalistic aesthetic and sustainable management.  Recent completion of a research doctorate at the University of Sheffield with one of the world’s foremost department of landscape, indicates his belief that practice must be supported by research and evidence.

 Hybrid: The History and Science of Plant Breeding is copyright © 2009 The University of Chicago Press
Published by The University of Chicago Press
All rights reserved

Copyright © SeedQuest - All rights reserved