Monday, January 7, 2013

Don't Feed The Beast

They are just beginning to arrive:
the 2013 seed catalogs!
Let's face it:  the cards are stacked against anyone who does not want to grow genetically engineered foods. The Obama administration, the only administration to even throw a nod the non-GMO way (in a speech way back in the 2008 campaign), has turned it's back on everyone who is concerned about American agriculture and on the wishes of over 90% of the American people even to simply label products containing GMOs.

Prop 37 went down to defeat in the face of millions of dollars spent spewing lies - and where there wasn't a lie, creating lies (the 'research' that gave them their much-ballyhooed food price raise was bought by the 'No on 37' forces money) and almost monthly there is a new approval of a GMO - the freak du jour in January is GMO salmon, which poses risks to wild populations.  But salmon is out of my field. Really.  More than 'so to speak'.  I'm a gardener.

Many folks are excited about boycotts as a method to register their complaint against the companies that paid for the no on 37's lies.  I'm fine with that, but I find I often have never purchased the products I'm supposed to boycott in the first place.  I think that means my boycotting dollars won't really be missed.  

I don't even like the idea of a boycott because it implies when you get your way, you'll purchase their products in the future. I will not.  These companies are dead to me - I didn't need them before and I'll never need them again.  (I have one great confession to make:  the huge exception to this 'I never buy those products anyway' was my daily - yes, DAILY - chocolate bar fix on my way home from work. I had become aware years ago that my chocolate bars were using GMO soy lecithin but I pretended I didn't know because I wanted my chocolate/sugar fix.  I stopped somewhere in the beginning of October 2012 because I couldn't ignore the truth anymore and I've not had a chocolate bar since - Snickers was my favorite. I'm probably much healthier now as a side benefit.)  

However,I do buy seeds and I've made it a point to not buy from companies that carry GMO seeds and I'd very much like you to make the same commitment. Hybrids today are patented, a process that has given rise to the dubious practice of creating GMOs (if they couldn't patent them, they couldn't recoup their enormous research expenses).  Purchasing hybrid seed opens you up to helping GMO companies make a profit.  

Get on over to a seed library and learn to share in that process!  But when you must buy seeds that perhaps are not available in the seed library, don't buy hybrid seeds.  A quick check at the Seminis web site, a Monsanto company, netted me lists of the patented hybrids they own.  These are NOT GMO seeds.  They are only hybrids, but any profit from them does fee the GMO creator beast, Monsanto.  

I'll list a few I actually had purchased in the past, before i knew about GMOs: 
   Tomatoes - Beefmaster, Burpee's Big Boy,Celebrity Golden Boy and Viva Italia 
   Sweet Peppers - Big Bertha, Giant Marconi 
   Broccoli - Packman 
   Squash - Gold Rush, Greyzini, Lolita

To name but a few.  When I first saw these varieties, I was shocked.  I had purchased some of them even as little as five years ago!  All of these are listed on the Seminis web site; check it out if you want.

Another tab on that site, lists garden seed suppliers where you can purchase Seminis seeds - I suggest you avoid those companies.  It is sad to see Ball Horticultural Company there - they are the owners of Burpee Seeds, a catalog I grew up with and began my love affair with seeds.  So, no more Burpee for me.  

It is quicker and more portable to simply make sure the seed company you're about to buy from has signed the Safe Seed Pledge (found here for one of many places).  If they've signed it, they are OK to buy from - if they've not signed it, they are suspect; make sure you are not buying any hybrids (F1's).  The seeds that will not feed the beast are 'open pollinated' of which 'heirloom' is a sub-class - both are OK (it can be open pollinated and not heirloom, but it it's heirloom it is open pollinated - if this isn't clear, draw a big circle and label it 'Open Pollinated,' then draw a smaller circle inside the big circle; you can label that one 'Heirlooms' - now you can see the difference).  

Come to the Seed Library of Los Angeles meeting on January 19th at 2:30.  Membership is still only $10 for a life time and seeds are free to check out if you bring some back- don't worry, we'll teach you how!  And if you don't, we'll only charge you a nominal fee - much less than a packet of seed from a seed house.  Such a deal!  

Happy New Seed Saving Year everyone!