The Importance of Seeds
What is the difference between heirloom, GMO's, hybrid and open pollinated seeds and what is happening to our food supply? Modern-day farming and food production looks very different from models of the past. With all the negative talk on GMOs and globalization, more and more people are turning to home gardening and growing their own edibles. Growing from seed in your home garden can be confusing. To make it a little easier I’ve defined the different types of seeds available on the market today.
Different Seeds and Descriptions
A GMO seed is a hybrid seed that has been produced in a lab using high-tech methods. These seeds have been injected with animal DNA, plant DNA, bacteria and viruses, in order to make these seeds drought and disease resistant. The process crosses biological kingdoms, which has never been done before to our food. The seeds are owned by the company that produces them and can not be pollinated to use again the following year. They are not available for sale to the general public.
HYBRID seeds are 2 different varieties of the same plant, cross-pollinated usually out in the field, using low-tech methods. A seed cross of one male and one female plant are chosen to make the best offspring. The objective to procure significant traits from both parents, such as disease resistance, height, color and flavor. Hybrids also randomly happen out in nature. Usually, hybrids are one-hit wonders, they do well the first year but not so well in subsequent years.
OPEN - POLLINATED seeds
OPEN - POLLINATED seeds are made out in nature by the birds, the bees and the wind. They’re Mother Nature's way, wild and free. They perpetuate bio-diversity and natural selection, and are true to type, genetically the same as the parent plant. For example, a basil plant grows, flowers and is left to go to seed, the flower head is full of open pollinated seeds.
HEIRLOOM seeds are passed down from generation to generation in a family or community, and technically are over 50 years old. They are always open-pollinated seeds, chosen for their superior quality and flavor. Their real magic is in the stories behind them. Full of nostalgia, they take us back to yesteryear and teach us about the history of our food from cultivation, from harvest, to table. Like a good piece of furniture, clothing or jewellery, they can stay in a family for decades. They are the gift that keeps on giving.
List of GMO crops
- Following are the approved GMO crops grown in the US.
- Zucchini/ Yellow Summer Squash
- Sugar Beet
WAITING FOR APPROVAL
GMO's in Foods
When buying fresh produce, check where it was grown that way you can gauge how clean it is. For example, strawberries grown in California, are the most highly pesticide sprayed fruit. They're not worth eating if not organic. When it comes to processed, packaged food, anything labelled to contain high fructose corn syrup, or fructose, is code for GMO corn syrup. 70% of honey sold is mainly high fructose corn syrup, unless it is organic wild honey.
Soybean or soy is used as a thickener, in so many products. 94% of soybean crops in the US are genetically modified. Canola oil is used in many vegan "meat" products as well as in hummus, dips and crackers. Make your own dips and stay away from synthetic fake processed meats. I hope this list helps you in deciding what to grow yourself and what to buy from reputable organic growers, farmers markets or mindfully from supermarkets.
GMO's and Their Issues
GMO's are a problem. The agricultural techniques used to cultivate these crops wreak havoc on the environment. Along with the GMO ‘superseed’ grows a ‘superweed’ that has become resistant to the herbicide 'Roundup' which contains glyphosate was developed and is used to suppress them. It has been reported that the resistant weeds can grow an inch a day, reproduce quickly and grow stems thick enough to damage farm machinery. They have successfully grown and multiplied in the corn belt, middle America region and are quickly moving across to the East Coast.
You would think that to wage war on these ‘superweeds’ a different approach would be incorporated back into the modern agriculture model. It appears, though, that most farmers are trying to deal with this weed plague by adding more synthetic herbicides to the crops to control the weeds. Science has proven that using good ole fashioned, ecological methods such as crop rotation, cover crops, mulch and compost livestock manure, would reduce the amount of weeds effectively and the use of herbicides by 90 percent.
Monsanto now Bayer’s Empty Promises
Monsanto now owned by Bayer, after a long drawn out 63 billion dollar deal, promised farmers cheaper methods for a better crop yield. Huh, really? They over promised and under delivered BIG TIME. So much so, that the final cost of GMOs and the destruction that comes with them, is going to cost us a lot more than just a few dollars. A wildlife genocide has taken place quietly in the background from the over use of herbicides and pesticides. Colony Collapse Disorder is a prime example. Human health is being affected by the synthetics used in our food production.
The environment has taken a beating, with some irreversible harm done to our lands and our oceans. Animal welfare is at stake and has not been taken into consideration at all. Using GMO seeds and the chemical support that comes with them, do not align with the good of mankind or Mother Nature. In short, sustainable ecological practices protect the environment, humans, wildlife, and the community, something for all of us to think about. Awareness is key, we must cease to support multi -conglomerates like Bayer, who are attempting to control our food source. This is vital to our planet's future.
Growing from seed at home
Planning your edible garden is exciting and full of promise, so take your time with the details as you will reap what you sow. The quality of your seeds is conducive to cultivating a bountiful crop. I have tried a few different seed suppliers and found that both Baker Creek Heirloom Rareseeds and JohnnySeeds, have an expensive catalogue full of proven seed winners.
If you are solely growing indoors, consider dwarf varietals and micro greens that take up much less space vertically and horizontally. To learn more about growing edibles indoors, checkout an article I wrote for the online publication - Her Own Mind.
When growing from seed in or outdoors, either way it’s vitally important to cultivate your seeds using only organic mediums. Use a mix of organic compost and soil. Further more, once your crops start growing about 8 - 10 weeks in, top up the soil with nutrients by applying soil minerals and organic fertilizers such as coffee grounds and tea leaves. If growing indoors, find a compost unit designed to break down food for indoor use.
One tip to get you started outdoors is, when planning your home edible garden add a top layer of compost in the fall and leave it. Don’t turn it or move it, let it naturally decompress and the freeze, thaw cycles over the winter months, accelerate the breakdown of an open air compost pile. Allow microbial activity beneath the surface work it's magic to enrich your soil. Wiggle does the worm who casts it's golden poo poo! Your soil will be ready for planting the minute the weather is right without you having to till or enrich the soil.
Growing an organic garden made with your hands makes you a Garden Artisan!
Pollinators need us to bring balance back into our local ecosystems. Find out what grows wildly and freely in your area and cultivate these plants. Encourage your community to plant local wildflowers in public parks, green spaces, schools and community gardens.The seeds we plant today, make the world of tomorrow. Be inspired by gardens locally and globally. There's always a little something you can learn and incorporate from other cultures and terrains, into your own local landscape.