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Bad Seed

Hgraves's picture

Yumi was often seen as the rebel. She was the girl who ran away and left her family and the girl who had an affair and got pregnant by her teacher. She was branded the bad seed. On wikitionary, being a bad seed is a genetic source of bad behavior or other results. Therefore, calling Yumi the "bad seed" would imply that Lloyd also had some bad inside of him but he was just a regular Idaho farmer. Yumi wasn't a bad seed, she was just an organically grown potato in a field full of GMOs.

Yumi started off as an innocent spud. On the outside she looked and interacted like the other GMOs. She was thrilled to go to school and she loved teaching her parents about everything her teachers had taught her. But just like actual GMO potatoes and organic potatoes, the long term effects or in this case the personalities of the potatoes are very different. Yumi could not be a GMO even if she wanted. Unlike Cass, who had two white Idaho native farming parents, who she could be directly cloned after because they were both GMOs, Yumi's parents weren't the same. She had one GMO and one exotic fruit that cross breeded. Therefore making her into the genetically identical potato that everyone else was, was impossible. With an organic type of potato, you never know what you're going to get. The potato may come out too small, a little lumpy, maybe even out of the ordinary, just like Yumi.

Yumi knew she wasn't like the other potatoes. On page 4 she described the feeling of growing up by saying , "That's what it felt like when I was growing up, like I was a random fruit in a field of genetically identical potatoes." She also described how unlike the other GMOs, she actually didn't like potatoes either. And, growing up in a town where potatoes were everyone's livelihood,  and she being the only one that didn't like it, was another indication that she wasn't the same, "Honestly, I never liked potatoes much. I preferred rice, a taste I inherited from my mother, Momoko, and which, in a state of spuds, was tantamount to treason" (4).

Not only was Yumi's taste or liking different, but so was her personality. As stated above, when a potato is organically grown, you never know what the outcome of the potato may be. But one thing that the organic potato does have is it's own distinct shape and look, just like Yumi had her own personality. When meeting Mr. Rhoades, Yumi became very interested in zen. She was intrigued by the questioning of beliefs,  the spirituality, the ability to reach enlightenment and most importantly Mr. Rhoades. Granted he did start her interest in the Japanese culture, he wasn't the one who made her question her father's religion. She decided to not believe in organized religion and she decided to stand up to her dad and tell her that she doesn't agree with his Methodist beliefs. Cass, a GMO, wouldn't have done that. In fact, she still lives the life of a typical GMO even into adulthood when one would assume that she would gain some autonomy and go against what she is expected to do. Yumi also kept people on edge. You never knew what you would get out of her or what her next move would be.

It is also important to keep in mind that the person who referred to Yumi as the "bad seed" was a GMO himself. Carl Unger, a very religious, non-gambling farmer who believes in hitting his child often described Yumi as the bad seed. On page 201, he says, "... She's a bad seed,  Fuller." As an any society when someone is seen as different, they are often described as being bad or out of the ordinary, and Yumi faced this a lot. Unfortunately her organic spirit was appreciated in a town full of GMOs.

Yumi wasn't a bad seed, she was just a different seed. She was organically unique while all the others were clones. When being an organic fruit, there is no guarantee as to what one would turn out to be. So when Yumi came about, no one knew how to handle this difference.


Anne Dalke's picture

I’m grinning @ the creative energy of this piece, which comes from your taking the risk of really pushing the analogy between ‘bad seeds’ and unique human beings. And/but I’m also wanting you to slow down a little and EXPLAIN—really unpack—those analogies. You never say (for starters) what a “GMO” is—either agriculturally or metaphorically, when applied to human beings. What makes a person a “GMO”? You say that Cass “lived the life of a typical GMO”—what is that? You seem to use the term to reference those who follow normative patterns, those who are “clones”…. but of course in traditional farming methods, all potatoes are clones, and GMOs are “modified,” re-scripted… You call Lloyd both “just a regular Idaho farmer,” and a GMO; you say that Yumi was “crossbred,” while Cass was not (but biologically, no human being is a clone…) Sometimes you call Yumi an “organic fruit,” sometimes a potato…are the differences between a fruit and a vegetable not important here, in this farming story? You call her “organically unique,” but even organic potatoes are clones…

You’ve taken a wonderful first step here, in thinking metaphorically; the next step is also to think analytically, to really really excavate this whole range of possible associations, and examine how well they hold up, and where they break down.