Sunday, May 4, 2014

Seeds, heritage vs. hybrid, seed companies and GMOs

I spend a fair amount of time on social media, most of it on Facebook and it always seems like there is a lot of discussion and I think confusion when it comes to choices about good eating and seed selection. I raise heirloom vegetables mainly because I want to give customers that are looking for the best taste their moneys worth. Being able to save seeds to replant is another plus for heirloom vegetables but the way I look at it any catastrophe big enough to wipe out the seed supply is probably going to put a serious dent into farming anyway.

A lot of people think that going to a farmers market to buy their produce is the best way to get healthy food and for the most part it is grown locally so it shouldn't be treated with chemicals so it can be shipped across the country anyway so it should be. In reality though, with a few exceptions your probably buying the same hybrid vegetables that are grown to look good after a day sitting out in the air and sunshine at the farmers market instead of to be healthy and taste good like heirloom vegetables are.

So what is a person to do? It's always better to seek out the roadside farm stand where you should be able to talk to the guy that actually grows the crops he's selling or if there just aren't that many choices in your area then the farmers market is an ok alternative. There is one other option if you have some space and that is to grow your own. But now you have to decide on seed, I'll be perfectly honest with you, my seed selection is based mostly on whether or not I can get the seeds that I want off of a store shelf and how many seeds there are in a pack. This is another place where you are usually better off to buy heirloom, hybrid seeds usually only have between 25 and 50 seeds in a pack compaired to as many as 150 in a pack of heirloom. So how do you know that what your buying is heirloom? Most hybrids will be marked that they are,it doesn't hurt to do a little research either but there really are only so many varieties of heirloom seeds available and a lot of companies have the same ones, the differences are in some of the odd shaped and colored varieties and I really don't know much about them because most people that are buying vegetables from me want it to look like they picture that it should.

So now you decided to try planting your own vegetables and you know what seeds you want so where do you find them? I'm fortunate enough to have a store a few miles down the road where I can buy some seeds in bulk and I usually can find  better quality peas, beans,potatoes, onions and even things like strawberries, asparagus and a few others much cheaper than the box stores. They also have bulk packs of seed with as much as a quarter pound of seed in them for about the price of a small pack in the box stores. I'm not against shopping at Walmart, Kmart or TSC for my other seeds though, I do also order a few things that I can't get at the box stores but most of my peppers, tomatoes, lettuce, radishes, broccoli, cabbage and such come right off of the store shelves.

So aren't I concerned about GMOs in those seeds? There are no genetically modified vegetable seeds unless you consider hybids genetically modified and they are actually crossbred not modified but I don't grow them anyway. There are a lot of companies selling seeds and there are a lot of outlandish insinuations if not outright lies told when they are trying to sell you seeds, now hopefully this will help clear up some of the confusion and help you to make the choices that you need to eat better or better yet, grow your own.

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