Today we have an excellent guest post from Nick at Whiteside Seed! There are a lot of misconceptions about organic seeds out there. Today Nick is going to shed some light on some of the most common myths of organic seeds.
Over the course of the last couple of decades we’ve been faced with a new choice. Not that the choice wasn’t available to make before that, but for thirty years we didn’t even consider the impact of hybrid vegetables being a staple at the supermarket. With the advent of genetically modified crops, people are suddenly starting to have some pretty strong opinions. Things are changing now. We see things that we haven’t seen before. We want to save our own seeds and we don’t want to be persecuted for it. We want tomatoes that don’t taste like Styrofoam and don’t have the texture of raw potato. We want staple vegetables that aren’t saturated in petroleum based fertilizers and pesticides.
The powers that be would have us think differently. They cite statistics heralding hybrid and GMO crops as the way to save the starving masses. What many of these overly-educated politicians don’t understand is that these crops are significantly less nutritious than their predecessors. Not to mention their bathing in petroleum-based fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides can cause multiple problems within the human physiology… and within the ecosystem. And there are plenty of independent studies that have been done to prove it.
After the Second World War we took on a posture of arrogance. We stopped the Nazis. We ended terror. We were responsible for the bulk of the world’s manufacturing. For some unknown reason we still think we’re better than every other country on the planet. But we haven’t even called for GMO labeling practices when other countries (countries we’re much better than, by the way) have adopted such policies. Even Russia has a non-GMO policy. And we’ve expanded our debt exponentially. Jefferson would be so proud. By the way, he was an avid gardener at his beloved Monticello and he never had a complaint about the production of his favorite heirloom crops.
But let’s talk semantics for a moment. Just because something is Certified Organic does not mean that it is heirloom. You can grow hybrids “organically”. You can also grow GMOs “organically”. Being “Certified Organic” only means that you have paid the USDA or your state extension of the USDA some money to tell you that your crops are “organic”. When, really, you’re only sticking to their chemically based rules. You can find this info here. And just because your favorite heirloom seed company isn’t “Certified Organic” doesn’t mean that your seeds aren’t organically grown. I know of many heirloom seed companies that are barely scraping by to keep these seeds in circulation and simply can’t afford to have the government tell them their seeds pass their ridiculous standards by way of their technical “organic” blackmail. And most of these companies grow organically… authentically.
You can be assured of this, however: People that sell heirloom seeds aren’t pulling your leg. Hybrid seeds are too expensive to sell at heirloom prices. GMO seeds are even more expensive than hybrids and would be light-years beyond availability for these, as yet, small companies. They fill your orders with minimal staff and profit margins. And they’re entirely dedicated to heirloom seeds. After all, why would you work for an heirloom seed company for twelve dollars an hour when you could work for a hybrid or GMO supplier for twice that?
I only mention this because heirloom seeds are my business. We’ve been questioned numerous times (too many to count) about the “organic” status of the nearly extinct varieties we’ve been increasing for release in my company. And we’re making excellent progress on some of these rare varieties that people haven’t eaten for decades. For the last nine years my partner and I have done this without compensation and we could not be happier with the response we’ve been getting from our supporters. But with this new fad of “organics” I felt I needed to clear up some of the blurred lines between heirlooms, hybrids and GMOs.
So, I’d like to leave a few links to some great heirloom seed websites. These are people that I know and have worked with extensively. And I can vouch for their seeds. Maybe they consider me their competition, but I figure we’re all in this together.