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3.01.2013

It's Time for Me to Take it Beyond the Kitchen

I have no love for Big Food.  That's no secret.  I would much rather hand over my family's hard earned money to local farmers and businesses who are transparent in their practices and who I can trust.  And I think the most revolutionary thing we can do is share this way of thinking and eating with everyone we know and continue to vote with our dollars- big food wouldn't exist if we weren't paying for it, so once we stop they have to change.  They are never going to do what's right because it's right, they'll only do it if we force them with our spending habits and continue to be educated about what we eat so we can keep them accountable.

Heirloom tomato varieties from Restoration Seeds.
It's time I take my passion further- all the way to the garden and the chicken yard.



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.
There are a LOT more reputable and Monsanto Free seed companies out there, but many many other people have compiled lists (here, here, and here) so I didn't feel the need to go to tall that work.   I strongly urge you to do the same- vote with your own dollars!

3 comments:

Clayful Creations by Becky said...

Hi,
I'm confused by your statement that "The only GMO vegetables approved in the US are some strains of zucchini." I read everywhere - blogs, newspapers, magazines, etc - that the majority of corn, soy, sugar beets and many other vegetables grown in the U.S. are GMO so I'm confused. I know there's a lot of misinformation out there but this seems like a pretty big discrepancy so I'm hoping you can clarify it for me. Thanks and I love your blog! :-)

Brandislee said...

I'm sorry, by "vegetable" I meant... well, vegetable. Corn, soy, and canola are not vegetables. The list of approved GMO crops in the US at this moment is this: Corn, Cotton, Canola, Zucchini, Papaya, alfalfa, soy, and sugar beets (sorry, I left out the sugar beets and the papaya before- I was aware of them, but they aren't at the forefront of my concern because I only use organic sugar and I don't like papaya, and both are far easier to avoid than corn, soy, and canola). Potatoes and tomatoes are technically approved but not on the market because past trials were commercial failures. There is a LOT of misinformation and confusion and poorly worded statements about this, not to mention a lot of conspiracy theories, but I don't report on conspiracy theories. The minute someone shows me documented proof of something, I'll let you know. I have heard some CRAZY claims about GMO's- all walnuts are GMO, all wheat is GMO, etc etc. While I do not at all support industrial farming or GMO's, spreading misinformation I feel does far more harm than good because I feel it makes us look like gullible wack jobs. Know your source, know your farmer, and don't spread information unless you know to the best of your ability that it is fact.

This is the best link I have found that gives good up to date information on what is GMO, what is currently being studied so is at risk, and what GMO's are no longer on the market (like the tomatoes and potatoes)- http://www.nongmoproject.org/learn-more/what-is-gmo/

Clayful Creations by Becky said...

Aaaaahhh!!! OK. Now that I kicked my brain into gear I see what you meant when you said "vegetable". I was thinking more along the line of "crops" and not paying attention so it was definitely my own confusion :-) Thanks for the additional info. I really appreciate you taking the time to provide it. My husband and I eat a Paleo/Primal diet and that's helped transition into a whole foods way of eating. Not easy all the time because even if you don't buy processed food it's pretty sad that you have to watch the types of fruits and veggies you buy because they don't even have to label what they've done to those. Oh well. We do the best we can and I read blogs like yours which helps tremendously! Thanks again and keep up the great work!

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