The Politics of Backyard Vegetables

I’m going to take a break from the glories of spring here for a minute (since nature seems to be doing its best to skip spring anyway and to jump straight into summer this year without passing “Go” and collecting its $200) to talk about a hot button topic that I touched on last month in seed starting but I really didn’t have time to cover fully.

Lots of other bloggers are covering this topic and even food writers and bloggers are beginning to get into the discussion as they wonder “where is my food coming from?”

Many of us have decided to grow our own vegetables to be free of the worries of pesticide contamination and the dangers that come when food is imported–as a commodity–from other countries. Just last week it was reported that 17 food-borne illnesses were attributable to imported foods, 11 to fish and 6 to spices.  There’s a great reason to grow your own herbs!

If, however, you are buying many of the commercially popular seeds ( the “name brands” ) of vegetables, you may be unwittingly getting seeds that may be contaminated with GMOs or genetically modified organisms.   Why is this?  Because all of the seeds for all of the patented varieties of many of our best known vegetables are sold by a company called Seminis.  And who owns Seminis?  Monsanto, king of the GMO seed.

In many cases, you might not care–after all, Monsanto has been arguing for years that there has never been a case of anything attributable to GMO food.

If you, like me, however, are growing your own backyard food to avoid just such issues of “what if,” though,  here’s how you can avoid those vegetables.  Go to the Seminis web site.  There you will find a link to all the vegetable seeds they sell to every seed supplier on just about every continent.  Click on the vegetable you are trying to research.  For me, it’s all about the tomato–that’s my holy grail.

There you will find a list of 29 different tomatoes that Seminis supplies to the world–including such favorites as Better Boy, Roma VF, Patio, and Jetsetter.  Want cucumbers? Salad Bush and Marketmore 76 are theirs. Peppers? California Wonder, Chocolate Beauty and Cubanelle are among the names they own in sweet peppers. In hot peppers, they own Mucho Nacho, Caribbean,  Garden Salsa and Hungarian Hot Wax.  And the list goes on.

If you’d prefer not to go through this tedious inquiry, you can of course buy from companies that sell only non-GMO seeds.  There are several including one right here in Connecticut–our own Comstock, Ferre & Co.   It is owned by the same owners who own Baker Creek Heirloom seeds.  They put out a fabulous catalog (as well as a great heirloom magazine and they have written a wonderful book on growing a raising heirloom vegetables as well).

And no, I get nothing from talking about this wonderful company–I’ve just been a happy customer for years.

3 thoughts on “The Politics of Backyard Vegetables

  1. Bridget Foy March 27, 2012 / 6:30 am

    I think I would prefer to buy only from organic seed companies and home save as many seeds as possible.

  2. gardendaze March 27, 2012 / 8:59 am

    Hi Bridget,
    That’s always another option. Believe it or not, there aren’t that many organic seed companies I can think of–just a couple come to mind. Of course, a couple may be enough depending on what you want to grow. But having seen what you’re growing, you might have a tough time getting enough seed over here. All of Europe has always been so much more progressive than America when it comes to health, I’m afraid!


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