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Bad Ass Farmers Vol. 6

Alex Ekins

Nikolai Ivanovich Vavilov

Nikolai Ivanovich Vavilov wanted to solve world hunger. As a botanist and geneticist he is best known for finding the centers of origin of cultivated plants. 

Think of it like this, where did tomatoes come from?  How about carrots? We eat vegetables every day.  Or we should be.  But did you ever wonder how they came to be?

Over the last 10,000 years humans have domesticated plants.  From foraging and rather unintentional selection, to early cultivation, then domestication, humans now have intensified production of these plants.  

Of the nearly 200,000 vegetables in the world, humans really only use around 3,000 of these, and cultivate only 200 of those.  Of those 200 cultivated vegetables only 25 make up most of our diets. 

The centers of origin are: China, India, Meso America,  the Andes, the Mediterranean, Ethiopia,  South America and the Middle East.

All apples come from Kazakhstan.  That means that there are more kinds of apples there naturally than any other place in the universe. I love apples. 

So Vavilov found out where all our vegetables come from.  That was an amazing accomplishment. 

Vavilov = bad ass. 

Oh and he only happened to create the world's largest seed bank in Leningrad. During WWII nine attendants of the institution starved to death protecting the seeds, only to have the Nazi'z pillage the bank.

Fucking Nazi's. 

And in another terrible twist, Vavilov was arrested by Stalin and sent to a death camp.  

He died of starvation.

Fucking Stalin man. 

Vavilov was an example of a good man who pushed the potential of humanity forward. He didn't want money, patents or stock options. He selflessly gave his life in the pursuit of science to benefit all mankind.

Nikolai Ivanovich Vavilov, Bad Ass Farmer!