19 March 2010

The Problem with Seeds

Happy Friday!!!

My seed catalogue finally came!  Let's just say, it's very safe to say I'm in LOVE!  It's 117 pages of colorful, beautiful (mouthwatering) photographs of heirloom foods.  That have been grown by the few remaining farmers who refuse to simply give up and go with GMO's or Genetically Modified Organisms.

So, I bet your wondering what are heirloom foods and what is GMO and how does it effect me?

Well, I'm planning on edumacutin' ya on those questions.

But first just let me say: I want this blog to be about the perils, joys, problems, excitement, and pitfalls of farming and being a farmer/gardener/crazy chicken lady.  I never want to become a political writer to tout some line of propaganda, because lord knows there are many others better suited at doing that than this gal.  However, I feel it is important for myself, Wolf, and you, dear reader to understand exactly what is happening with our seeds and our food.  I do realize that in a society of divided labor, not everyone can make the choices Wolf and I have made; however, that doesn't mean you have to support what is happening to our food and our seeds.

So, onward we go!

What are GMOs?

I asked myself that question not too long ago.  I was under the impression, as you may be, that all seeds are the same and come from the same place.  And ideally, they all have happy little seed lives.  Well, I hate to burst your fatastical bubble, but that simply isn't true.

A genetically modified seed is a seed that has been altered to produce or look a certain way.  And sometimes, the genes of the plant are spliced with genes from a completely different plant, that nature didn't intend.  It would be like a soybean having Brazil nut genes.  Let's say someone with sever allergies to nuts (they'd definitely be allergic to me! ha!) eats a can of soybeans, has a severe reaction to the beans, and falls fatally ill.  All because the genes of the soybean were altered.

They are doing all sorts of crazy things with food genes! Like adding fish genes to tomatoes to make them frost resistant and adding the genes of a naturally occurring bacteria to corn to make it insect resistant.  Should we really be playing God with plant's genes?  It sounds like a good idea, until you start thinking about "super weeds"  and the affect GMOs could have on our health.

I don't know about you, but I've never wanted fish in my tomatoes.  When I eat a tomato, I want to eat just that.  A tomato.  Not fish genes, no extra anything.  Just a good old fashioned tomato.  If the plan geneticists can put fish into tomatoes, then what ELSE is going into our food?

The scariest part about this, to me, is that we aren't told which foods have what!  The "FDA does require the product to be labeled if the ingredient is a potential allergen, or somehow changes the nutritional properties of the food. To date, no approved biotech crop is either an allergen, or has any significant nutritional differences from non-GM counterparts" (Monesto, 2009).  

Seriously?!  Sorry, all you people with peanut, fish, or bacterial're screwed!  They also completely FAIL to mention that the bacteria they spliced into the corn flits in the wind and kills monarch butterfly caterpillars.  If it's killing caterpillars, then what's it doing to my lungs and my body?  My dogs?  My kids?

You can read on the website why the company called Monesto, outright refuses to label their products.  It's down right ridiculous.  Don't you want to know what is IN your food?  However, if you truly wanted to delve more deeply into that subject, I would suggest watching Food, Inc. to get a deeper and more in-depth picture of what's going on with GMOs and Monesto.

What is an heirloom seed?

An heirloom seed is a seed that has not been genetically modified in anyway, at all, ever.  It is a seed that has never been contaminated by GMOs (which is happening more and more unfortunately) and have been naturally pollinated.  So, if you get heirloom tomato seeds, grow them, pluck the tomato from the vine, and bite into the ripe red flesh.  You will be eating tomato. Not tomato plus fish plus whatever-the-hell-else-they-though-would-make-them-more-money.  No, just pure delicious tomato.

Personally, that's what I prefer.

Where do seeds come from?

Well, there's a stork....

The seeds come from farmers and (small) companies who oppose GMOs and seed savers.  All of which are interested in preserving heirloom seeds.

Where can you find heirloom seeds?

You can order heirloom seeds from these websites: (just like I did today!)
Seed Savers Exchange
Sand Hill Preservation Center Seeds & Poultry
The Great Pumpkin Patch
Seeds of Diversity Canada
Marianna's Seeds
Abundant Acres Heirloom Plants
Marianna's Seeds
Raintree Nursery
Slowfood USA

Support your local farmers market and Organic Consumers!  Look for local producers at Local Harvest or Green Peace.