|Heirloom tomato varieties from Restoration Seeds.|
I've rationalized using Monsanto-owned easily available commercial seeds in the past- they're easy to find at all the local big box stores and nurseries, and they're cheap. It's okay, because I'm using them to grow my own food. Etc and etc.
But there's no way to rationalize handing my money to Monsanto and their subsidiaries when I don't agree with their ethics or business practices. So it's time to stop making excuses.
Why avoid Monsanto? They have all of those pretty "we're all about the farmers" commercials out, they must be okay, right? Well, all I can say is it's a very personal decision- do their practices bother you or not? Personally the more I read (and read I have) about the health of GMO's, a technology they spearheaded, the more I want to vomit. But besides the health of it (which I encourage you to research for yourself) I don't like their business practices. They develop patented seeds (which, btw, is some of the first plant matter to be patented), designed to tolerate more of certain chemicals, then they sell you the chemicals. They make it damn near impossible for farmers to save seed for the following season, something farmers have always done, so that they have to buy new seed each year. Monsanto has systematically forced other seed companies out of business, then hiked up the prices of their own seed. Not to mention they poured millions of dollars into the anti Prop 37 GMO labeling campaign. If they're so safe for us, why were they willing to spend so much money to defeat a bill that wouldn't ban or even regulate them, but would simply require them to be labeled.
But let's be clear- I'm not avoiding these seeds because they themselves are GMO. The only GMO vegetables approved in the US are some strains of zucchini. I just want to make this clear, because I hate when people spread misinformation.
Still, I strongly encourage you to buy your vegetable seeds from sellers not owned or supplied by Monsanto. Their desire to monopolize the seed industry alone is enough justification for that. Not only will their owning a majority of the seed industry give them license to drive up prices as they wish, it will also give them control over what is planted, and this could have devastating affects the biodiversity of our gardens... not to mention potentially forcing us to use GMO seeds, as they are ostensibly doing to the American farmer.
Where to find non-Monsanto seeds? Here are some of my favorite sources:
- Johnny's Select Seeds- Johnny's is a company owned seed company, and they have an ENORMOUS selection of seeds and starts. They do sell a few hybrid varieties that they buy from Semanis (a company that was bought out by Monsanto a few years ago), but I am okay with that in this instance because 1) they are completely upfront about it (email them and they will gladly send you a list), 2) the number of seeds they offer from Semanis is being decreased every year, not increased, and 3) the percentage is so small... there are about 15-20 varieties of extremely popular vegetable varieties that they sell from Semanis, out of their catalog of thousands of varieties.
- Bountiful Gardens
- Baker Creek Seeds
- Restoration Seeds (Bonus- good selection of perennial vegetable seeds!)
- Territorial Seeds- Last year I took a little flack for using Territorial Seeds, because they also buy from Semanis. But like Johnny's, above, they are decreasing the number of Semanis seeds they sell every year and will email you a list of varieties to avoid. They also report that Semanis is actually offering fewer and fewer varieties every year, which is worrisome- it shows that Monsanto is buying out seed companies to eventually put them out of business. So lets support these other seed companies and not give Monsanto the chance!
- Renee's Garden- This is a seed brand I can buy locally, which is nice- look out for it at hardware stores and nurseries.