Archive for the ‘survival seed bank’ Tag

ZPrepared.com- Preparing for the Zombie Apocalypse

I recently came upon this website while reading up in my favorite survivalist blogs. ZPrepared, it’s called. And according to the website,

Zprepared is a group of like-minded individuals who feel that it’s hard enough to survive the endless hordes of the walking dead, so people should have the option to do so with the coolest gear available. We find all kinds of gear that will not only help you survive, but to survive in style. Make the zombie apocalypse more comfortable and stylish…ZPrepared.

So I got a kick out of browsing through a variety of their different products. I must say, some of them are quite clever. Like this bacon in a can, which has is already fully cooked, required no preparation, and has a 10 year shelf life. Then there’s the Mayday Emergency Food Ration, which is a small bar of food that contains a total of 3,600 calories. That could sustain you for several days, and could fit right in your pocket.

Then, as I was browsing, low and behold, what did I find there listed right between Zombie caution signs and a Zombie-proof bunker that is for sale in the UK? None other than the reliable Survival Seed Bank. On the site, Hudson Steele writes,

If you’re anything like us, you’re preparing for the long haul. That means a fortified shelter, lots of supplies, and a plan to sustain yourself once the dust settles a little. When your food stores run out you’re going to need a way to sustain yourself, and other survivors you’ve collected along the way. When the going gets tough, the though get GROWING. Most people don’t realize that the Produce you buy in the grocery store are of a Hybrid variety, meaning you can’t just plant the seeds from a Golden Delicious and expect to grow an apple tree. We recommend having your own supply of self germinating, survival ready seeds to grow your own crops. The Survival Seed Bank fits the bill perfectly. This kit comes with all the basics for starting your own renewable food source. It features 22 varieties of Open Pollinated “Super Seeds” that yield a full acre of nutrient-dense food crop. They’re individually vacuum packed for maximum shelf life; up to 20 years at 70 degrees, and up to 100 years when frozen so they’ll be ready to plant when you are. The kit also includes a nifty bottle of “Nitro Seed Starter Solution” to help jump-start your crop and a handy manual for rookies. All you need to supply is the land, water, ample light, and the manpower to make it happen. While the rest of the world is scrounging for leftover cans of baked beans, you’ll be feasting on fresh healthy veggies grown with your own hands.

Hudson, I really don’t think I could have put it any better myself. Regardless of whether you think an impending Zombie attack is fact or fiction, doesn’t this product description hit home?

Look at all the good, fine folks in Japan now, for example. Grocery store shelves are, for the most part, empty. There is scarcely any gas available, so it is not reasonable to expect food to be transported to stores in the near future. More than 160,000 people have been evacuated from a 12-mile zone in an attempt to avoid the fallout from an impending nuclear disaster. Really, the situation there is heartbreaking. Because how many of these people do you think abandoned their homes with a supply of survival food in tow? How many of these families could turn to the harvest of their crisis gardens when the earthquake struck, and they faced rolling blackouts and empty grocery store shelves? Probably not many.

The message here is clear. If it’s not Zombies, it will be an earthquake. Or a tsunami. Or a tornado. Or a flood. We must all be prepared for these occurrences, which can happen at any time. It is spring now, and the ideal time to plant. So go get busy in your crisis garden.

Planning for the Spring Planting Season, Part 2: Taking Seed Inventory

I derive a great satisfaction from saving my own seeds from my garden every year. Perhaps it is because some giant monopolizing seeds companies (ahem, Monsanto) will have us believe that we shouldn’t be doing it. Or perhaps it is because it symbolizes just how self-renewing and self-sustaining gardens really are. But either way, saving seeds is a simple task from which I receive great pleasure. So if you’re reading this blog, hopefully that means you’re a seed saver, too. With spring on the way, it’s time to start taking inventory of your saved seeds. It is wise to not let your seeds get too old, and to track just how long you’ve been storing them.

Each time I save seeds from an item from my garden, I dry them out completely, place them in paper envelopes, then file them inside a plastic file box or glass jar. (For full details, you can read my tips on saving seeds here.) This storage system helps to keep the seeds from being exposed to extreme heat or cold and moisture, which is very important.

Now you’ll notice that in the above article, I recommended planting seeds within a year. This is the best case scenario- to plant seeds the year after you save them. But of course this is not always possible. So if this is the case, it is very important to rotate your seeds storage. As with any survival food that you store, you should be rotating the oldest seeds forward and using them first. The newest seeds should be rotated to the back of your storage.

Not all seeds have the same shelf life, so you can actually safely and effectively save some seeds longer than others:

  1. Short Lived– Short lived seeds are ones for which the one-year rule applies. I generally do not recommend keeping corn, leek, onion, parsnip, or spinach seeds for longer than one year. Try to plant your seeds the next planting season after you save them. These items all are a high priority in my garden- I’ll pull these seeds out of storage first.
  2. Medium-Lived- These include beans, carrot, celery, chard, eggplant, parsley, peas, pumpkin, and squash. Medium-lived seeds should be planted within 2 to 3 seasons. So if you have pea seeds from last season that you don’t intend to plant this year, that’s okay. You can rotate them to the back and plan to keep them for another year or two.
  3. Long-Lived- Here’s some good news- lots of seeds that you can easily store are long-lived seeds. These include include beets, all brassicas (such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage, collards, and kohlrabi), chicory, endive, escarole, radicchio, cucumber, kale, lettuce, melons, mustard, peppers, radish, rutabaga, sunflower, tomato, and turnip. Whew! So for long-lived seeds, you should rotate your oldest ones to the front. If you have cucumber seeds that are 5 years old, you can still plant them this year. And the newest ones can go to the back. You can store long-lived seeds for 5-6 years.

Would Your Children Survive a Crisis?

As a parent myself, I know that this is something that none of us like to think about. But the sad truth is that when a crisis occurs, it is really the children who suffer the most.

What got me really thinking about this was when I was watching the news this week, and saw reports on the 1-year anniversary of the disastrous earthquake in Haiti. Rubble still stands in great piles. Thousands of people are still living in tent cities. President Bill Clinton was quoted as saying that a great amount of progress has been made there. But to the naked eye, everything remains completely in ruins. One woman who was interviewed tearfully stated that she has literally nothing. Anything that she has, she said, is something that was begged for, or that she was given by friends.

All of these images are painful and disturbing. But of course the most painful images are those of the children. Many children have no choice but to fend for themselves, as they or orphaned, or their parents are too weak and sick to care for them. The same thing happened in Argentina recently after their economic collapse- children literally wandered the streets scrounging for food and digging through garbage to simply survive. We also saw the same image after the 2004 tsunami in Indonesia, India, Sri Lanka and Thailand. Really, these natural disasters can happen anywhere at any time.

With the reality of economic and weather-related disasters all around us, we should ask ourselves, have we equipped our children to survive these crises? If we were injured or incapacitated, could our kids fend for themselves? If they were on their own, would they know what to do? This is an essential part of survival. Our kids must be taught self-sufficiency, they must not rely on us entirely for survival.

A good starting point for teaching your children survival skills is to remember to make it fun for them, not scary. Try making it game-like. Tell them that you are going to take them camping and teach them how to build a fire, not that they need to learn to survive in the wilderness. Invite a neighbor or relative along so that your children can build trust with another adult. Definitely don’t tell your kids that they may be orphans one day and they need to learn how to survive by themselves. There is no need to frighten your kids like this.

Another great beginning point for teaching your children survival skills is to practice gender neutrality. Do not teach your daughter skills that you think a girl should know, and your son skills you think a boy should know. Teach them both equally with no regard to gender. There are plenty of people out their who think that only women know how to sew and only men can handle a pocket knife. But these are skills that both boys and girls should learn and be comfortable with. All kids should learn basic gardening, hunting, and safety skills (staying away from downed power lines, stop-drop-and-roll, etc).

As you garden in your survival garden, pull your kids away from their video games and get them out in the garden with you. You may think they will not be interested, but I’ll bet you that they will be. Gardens are full of all sorts of creepy, crawly, smelly, dirty, and cool things. Teach children the names of fruits and vegetables, and what nutrients they have that are good for us. Also make sure to teach children what plants they should not eat- those that may be poisonous or harmful. My kids were always fascinated with my herb garden- they knew it as the “medicine garden” because it contained everything I needed to cure their tummy aches, bumps, and bruises. From a very early age, my children knew that they could rely on the earth and its fruits to care for them. This is an important lesson.

Again, I know it is not pleasant to think about your kids needing to survive on their own. But with the real possibility that in a crisis you may not be able to care for them, teaching your children to be self sufficient is a truly valuable lesson.

Can I Plant Anything During the Winter?

When you see the term “winter crops,” what this refers to is actually crops that can be harvested, not sown, in the winter. I realize this terminology can be a bit misleading. If you were to google “winter crops” in hopes of finding some things that you can plant right now, your search would actually reveal a list of things that you probably should have planted 3 months ago.

Depending on where you live, there are some things that you can actually plant during the winter. Now if you live in Wyoming, obviously your ground is frozen rock hard right now and you’ll need to stay inside with some hot tea before you are able to get your hands dirty out in your garden. If you live in a cold climate and wish to grow food during the winter, you may want to explore indoor container gardening, or gardening in a greenhouse. A row of herbs in pots on a windowsill can grow well, even in the winter. But if you live in a warm climate, such as zone 9 or 10, you have a good variety of options.

Check out this graph at Digital Gardener, for example. It reveals that there are several different crops that can be planted in Southern California in December, such as beets, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, radishes, rutabaga, spinach, and turnips.

Now if you do not live in a warm climate, now is the time to let your garden hibernate, and perhaps focus on different activities within your garden other than sowing seeds. One that I particularly enjoy is filling all of my bird feeders and watching birds flock to my garden. For the winter I like to use nyjer seeds, which are high in calories and help birds to stay full during these times when food is scarce.

Winter is also the time when I concentrate on maintenance. I will take the time to make sure that all of my tools are clean and oiled. I will continue to check my garden for rotted plants and pests. I will also continue to add compost to my compost heap, and turn it regularly.

The first winter planting that I will do will be around February, and that will be when I plant lettuce. Now I now you are thinking, “didn’t you just plant lettuce in August?” Yes, I did. But that is the great thing about lettuce. Alth0ugh you cannot can or pickle it, it is a cool season crop. So if you plan it correctly, you can have fresh lettuce practically all year. Lettuce seedlings cannot handle a hard freeze, but they can handle a light frost. Ideally, high temps should be around 60 and low temps should be around 40 when you plant lettuce seeds. So depending on where you live, this could be as early as January or as late as March.

Regardless of the climate in which you live, December is a great time of year to start planning for spring planting. Take inventory of your seeds. Organize an heirloom seed swap with other local gardeners. Map out your spring garden, and decide what you want to plant where. Make lists of any new tools you will need to purchase before prime planting season begins, such as a rain barrel or a new hose. Start preparing to plant any bulbs you have that must go through a cold germination process. This way, you will be well prepared and ready to begin when prime planting season begins.

Winter Is Upon Us

 

With the first official day of winter quickly creeping up on us, I am reminded of the conditions that arrived with winter just one year ago. Remember seeing lots of newspaper titles such as Florida Freeze To Push Up Produce Prices, Florida Freeze Cuts Produce Supply, Sends Prices Higher and Bad Weather Causes Wholesale Prices… To Shoot Up?

On February 14, 2010, a total of 49 states in the United States received some measure of snow. The only one that did not is Hawaii. It seems crazy, but it did happen. And of course, many areas of the country that grow winter crops such as lettuce, tomatoes, citrus, and berries were entirely unprepared for this.

If you don’t remember the news about the terrible weather last year, perhaps you remember the strain on your wallet that was caused by high fruit and vegetable costs. Or the fact that restaurants all over the country found themselves rearranging their menus to exclude tomatoes, one of the most effected crops, from their menus. This is just one example of how vulnerable food and food prices are to inclement weather. Sure, it doesn’t snow that often in Florida. But as we learned last year, that doesn’t mean that it won’t.

This month, we’ve already seen a major cold snap all across the country. Here in Norfolk, we’ve been fortunate. The average temperatures lately have been highs in the 30s and 40s, and lows in the 20s- nothing extreme. But interestingly, many areas south of us, such as North Carolina, South Carolina, and Florida, have all experienced unusually cold weather lately. And yes, you are bound to see this reflected in your food prices.

Other areas of the country, such as Cleveland Ohio, have already received inches of snow. Some people were stranded in the cars on the highway for hours when a whiteout occurred. This is a powerful reminder that we are very vulnerable to weather. There is quite literally nothing we can do to stop or change a snowstorm when it is headed our way.

So what is the point that I am trying to make here? The point is preparation, of course. If the entire tomato crop of Florida is ruined again this year, and you have a stock of home grown canned tomatoes in your basement, then clearly this will not affect you. If you experience a terrible blizzard that leaves you and your family housebound for 4 days, don’t you want to have a fully stocked pantry of fresh, healthy foods? A survival food supply is crucial at any time of the year. This is simply a seasonal reminder that we, as humble human beings on this earth, are very vulnerable. The best thing we can do to protect ourselves is to be prepared.

How to Correctly Store Your Food, Food Storage Part I

If you have planted your survival seed bank and begun harvesting your own food, then you are well on your way to self-sufficiency and long-term survival. But obviously, your garden is not going to produce at all times of the year. And when disaster strikes, the garden itself may be destroyed. So if you are not putting food in storage correctly, then you are missing a huge element of emergency planning and survival.

Before I begin to give you the basics, please allow me to say that today I will cover just that: the bare minimum basics. In order for you to learn the right way to store your food, you should definitely consider ordering the DVD set Food Storage Secrets. These 2 DVDs contain everything that you need to know in terms of survival food storage. The information contained in these DVDs will allow you to not only store food to keep your family alive in a crisis situation, but it will allow you to store food that tastes good. Really good. When you can vegetables, fruits, and meats using the methods described in these DVDs, they will taste even better than store-bought products. So these DVDs are a really valuable guide. Again, I would encourage you to order Food Storage Secrets today.

Now, on to the basics.

How to Store Food

*Plastic buckets- Generally speaking, I use food grade plastic buckets to store all my dry goods. There is some controversy over whether plastic can be used to store food long-term. Before purchasing a supply of buckets, contact the manufacturer to ensure that they are intended for food storage and not chemicals or solvents. Restaurants use plastic buckets for food storage all the time, so if you’d like you can even contact a local restaurant to see if you can get some used ones for cheap or free. When filling a plastic bucket with dry goods, such as wheat, rice, or beans, stop periodically and gently shake the bucket to get the contents to settle. Fill it all the way up to within 1/2 inch of the top of the bucket. This will reduce the amount of air that stays in the bucket, and reduce your chances of spoilage.

*Oxygen absorbers- Before you start storing food, you should definitely order some oxygen absorbers. You can get 500 of them for just about 15 bucks. I place 3 or 4 of these in each 5-gallon plastic bucket that I use for dry goods. These are extremely useful, since foods that are stored without oxygen last much longer. The trick in to place the oxygen absorbers in the bucket on top of the food, then quickly nail on the lid with a rubber mallet to create a tight, leak-free seal and a partial vacuum. This leaves the food in an atmosphere of 99% pure nitrogen. A tip to getting your oxygen absorbers to last a long time before using them is to store them appropriately. Remember that once you open the package, they will start to absorb oxygen around them right away. Keep your unused oxygen absorbers in a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid.

*Glass jars- For fruits and vegetables, you really can’t beat old fashioned canning in glass jars. Glass jars are cheap to buy, and easy to use and sterilize. You can refer to my blog A Good Reason To Can Your Own Vegetables  for links to sites that will guide you through your first canning experience. Once you have done it a few times, you will have committed the process to memory. You may find instructions online for refrigerator pickles, such as in my Lacto-Fermentation blog. It is important to note that these methods are for quick consumption, not long-term storage. Fruits and vegetables that you will to store for long periods of time must be canned using a heat process, or dried and vacuum packed.

A Good Reason to Can Your Own Vegetables

Consuming vegetables today is certainly not as simple as it should be, or it once was. By selecting conventionally produced canned, frozen, or fresh vegetables, you must wonder: Do these contain pesticides? Were they imported? Were they grown using GMO seeds? Now, unfortunately there is a new concern to add to the list: Do these vegetables contain BPA?

Recently, the website change.org reported that Del Monte canned foods were found to contain BPA, or Bisphenol-A, a dangerous hormone-disrupting chemical. This chemical has been linked to a number of ailments- everything from heart disease, to obesity, and even to cancer. Scientists have also found that BPA causes the early onset of puberty. BPA is toxic enough that some countries, such as Japan, have banned it entirely. Yet in America it may still be found in a number of products; specifically in hard, shiny plastics such as the interior coating of aluminum cans, toddler sippy cups, dental sealants, and baby bottles.

The important information here in this case is that the toxin is not coming from the vegetables themselves, as in the case of chemical pesticides. The toxin is leaching from the packaging into the canned food. Unfortunately, this means that it is fairly likely that BPAs have leeched into other conventionally packaged products you have bought, too. In fact, a recent study at the University of Texas School of Public Health found that of 105 conventional food items purchased at a Dallas grocery store, 63 of them contained “quantifiable levels” of BPA. That is more than half of the products they tested. BPAs were found in many different items, including canned tuna and canned pet food. But the highest levels of BPAs were found in Del Monte’s fresh cut green beans.

This does not affect me personally. I have not purchased canned vegetables in many years, because I have more than enough vegetables in my survival garden to can several batches every year. But this information does make me concerned for all those who rely on canned vegetables to feed their families. I would like to highly encourage you to begin canning your own home-grown vegetables. It is the best way to avoid dangerous chemicals like BPAs.

For some very helpful information on how to can your own veggies, check out some of these links:

The Ubiquitous Autumn Pumpkin

For the week of Halloween, how could I possibly pass up the chance to write about pumpkins? This symbol of October is so lasting, so cherished, so well loved. When my children were young they used to go crazy with anticipation until it was time to harvest our pumpkins. Then the entire month of October was spent experimenting with different culinary uses for them. Now if your children aren’t great about eating their fruits and veggies, I can promise you this: they will devour foods with pumpkin in them. For some reason, kids don’t seem to even associate pumpkins with the nutritional goodness that they pack. Instead, they are focused on the brilliant orange skin, and the plethora of goop and seeds inside. I suppose that to kids, pumpkins just seem like too much fun to be healthy.

Many people refer to pumpkins as vegetables, which is perhaps because they are closely associated with other types of squash and gourds. Technically, though, pumpkins are a fruit because they contain seeds. I am sure that you commonly hear pumpkins referred to as vegetables, right? Same thing goes for tomatoes. But the thing that makes both pumpkins and tomatoes technically fruits is that they contain seeds. Therefore, bell peppers are technically fruits as well, despite the fact that we very commonly refer to them as vegetables. Pumpkins are part of the cucurbita species of plants, which includes squash, watermelons, and cucumbers- all technically fruits. Here’s where an easy argument comes in, though: The term “vegetable” is actually just a culinary term, and many people argue that its definition is subjective and has no scientific value. So, let’s just say that whether you call a pumpkin a fruit or a vegetable is up to you, shall we? (And next time the conversation goes flat at a dinner party, just bring this up and see which side people take.)

In my garden, I have experimented with different types of heirloom pumpkins over the years. I have harvested pumpkins in blue-grey shades, funky oblong twisty shapes, and even some that are warty. But none of the ones I have grown have looked like your average, run-of-the-mill grocery store pumpkin. Like many other types of fruits and vegetables, what you’re used to seeing in the store is a hybridized pumpkin that has been bred to have smooth skin and a long, broad carving surface. When you open your garden to heirloom pumpkin varieties, you have a huge range of colors, textures, shapes, and sizes to choose from.

My daughter’s favorite has always been the Rouge Vif D’Etampes pumpkin, or what she used to call the Cinderella pumpkin. This pumpkin makes an excellent fall decoration because it is slightly squat and wide, and develops a very deep, rich red orange color. This variety of pumpkin is excellent for cooking and baking as well, since its flesh is firm and sweet. Isn’t it a beauty?

One of my personal favorite types of pumpkin is the Jarrahdale, which originally hails from Australia. Isn’t this just an interesting, unusual looking pumpkin? I love the deeply ridged gray-green exterior. A major plus is that this is a downright delicious pumpkin, too. The flesh on the inside is unique in that it is not stringy at all, and it has a nice bright yellow color and sweet flavor. Another bonus is that Jarrahdales can be stored for quite a long time, as long as they are kept in an environment where they are not at risk of mold and mildew attack.

For the kids, it’s always fun to grow a classic, round and orange variety of pumpkin as well. One type that I have had success with is the Cheyenne Bush Pumpkin. Now if you have a limited amount of space to grow your pumpkins, this is a good option for you. Typically, the fruits will only grow to be about 7 pounds, whereas Jarrahdales will be somewhere in the 10-20 pound range, and Cinderella pumpkins can grow to be as large as 40 pounds. While this is not the first pumpkin I would recommend for taste, it has quite a bit of visual appeal.

For a small pumpkin that actually tastes good, try the New England Pie Pumpkin. You may also hear these called Sugar Pie pumpkins. This should be your #1 choice for canning, and of course for dessert baking. These pumpkins grow to be only about 5-8 pounds, which makes them easy to handle. Of course, the name is not just clever. These pumpkins have a naturally sweet flesh.

Now regardless of which variety you choose to grow, one thing that you will need is a little bit of patience. Most types of heirloom pumpkins take around 100 days from planting to harvest. Some giant varieties take a full 150 days. For jack o’lantern and cooking types of pumpkins, such as those I have listed above, it is best to start your seeds indoors in early May. Your pumpkin plants can then be sown outdoors between May 15 and June 15. If you are still at risk of frost- make sure to provide protecti0n. Young pumpkin plants are very delicate. Later when your plants blossom, and finally your fruits grow, you may need to place a fence around them to protect them. Turns out that not just humans are attracted to pumpkins- your neighborhood critters might try to get to them, too. After approximately 4 months, your patience will be rewarded.

So while it may be too late this year for you to grow your own heirloom pumpkins, it’s never too early to start planting next spring’s garden. I am confident that you will enjoy moving the tradition of pumpkin picking from your farmers’ market to your own backyard.

Hell No, G-M-O!

Let me begin this post by saying that since it is a blog, it contains my opinion. Let me also follow that up by saying that when it comes to the topic of GMOs, this should be your opinion, too.

Lately the FDA has been debating whether GMO salmon should be approved for human consumption. The fish have been produced by a company called Aqua Bounty Technologies. What this process of genetic modification entails is injecting the fish eggs with recombinant DNA in order to allow the fish to develop desirable traits.

Aqua Bounty Technologies’ salmon have been created by injecting fertilized salmon eggs with a growth gene, as well as the genetic material from a fish called an ocean pout, which is a large eel-like fish. This causes the recombined DNA from the eggs to later be present in the body of the adult fish. The ocean pout gene allows the salmon to grow and develop in the winter as well as in the summer. The growth gene allows the salmon to reach adulthood, an appropriate size for consumption, in half the normal time. The result is salmon meat that, to the naked eye, appears pretty much the darn same as normal, regular salmon meat.

So here is the thing that is most shocking to me about this. So far, the FDA seems to think that this GMO salmon should hit the market without any sort of label on it to establish that it is GMO salmon. There would be no way for you, the consumer, to tell if you were purchasing salmon that had been caught from the ocean or genetically altered and raised artificially on a fish farm. They have made a variety of claims stating that there is “no need” for a label, and that a label would simply “confuse consumers.”

Confuse consumers?? The only thing I am confused about is how the FDA thinks it is acceptable to approve this salmon for human consumption when there is absolutely no proof whatsoever as to how this will affect us, our health, and our well being in the long run. This makes the American people the subject of one of the most outrageous science experiments in all of history.

Additionally, if GMO salmon doesn’t need to be labeled, then clearly other GMO products don’t need to be labeled. If you purchase soy products at the grocery store, you may notice that they contain a label stating, “Made with non-GMO soy.” Because there is no law stating that GMO soy needs to be labeled, the companies that DON’T use it really have no choice but to label themselves, if they wish for their consumers to know that their soy is safe. Genetically altered soy, canola, and corn are already in heavy rotation in both food and non-food products.

Disturbingly, Aqua Bounty has eluded that this technology is necessary to conquer the impending food crisis. Here in this Reuters article, he states that without it, “it’s hard to imagine how we will meet the protein needs of the developing population over the next 20 to 30 years.”

I’ve said it once and I’ve said it again, folks: The impending food crisis is not a “maybe.” The best thing that you can do in order to be prepared for it is plant your own survival garden. Do not put yourself in a position where you must consume GMO products for sustenance. Do not allow yourself to become a human science experiment.

A Lettuce By Any Other Name…

If you garden using conventional seeds, then you’ve probably experienced this problem that is described so eloquently here by Jerri Cook in Countryside. When choosing seeds from a catalog, you pick a lovely red leaf variety called Sheep’s Tongue in catalog A. A few days later, you see another red leaf variety in catalog B called Camel’s Tongue. You order this one, since you love experimenting with different types of vegetables, and you want your lettuce crop to last all summer. However, when you plant and begin to harvest your two types of lettuce, you notice that they grow, look, and taste exactly the same.  What’s up with that?

Well, here’s what probably happened. If catalog A has trademarked the name Sheep’s Tongue, then catalog B cannot call it the same thing. They can sell the exact same seeds, they simply have to call it a different name. So you, unknowingly, can buy and plant 2 sets of the exact same seeds. There’s not any way for us to detect that they are the same thing until we harvest our lettuce. Kind of tricky, right? If there are two of the exact same types of seed in two different companies, then obviously the original origin of the seeds is not one of these companies. This is confusing, I know, but unfortunately this is only the tip of the iceberg. 

No matter which conventional mail order catalog you choose to order your seeds, you are going to get the same ones. Catalog A, B, C, D, E, F, and so forth are likely all owned by the same parent company. The American nursery trade is a $39.6 billion a year industry. And Monsanto is now estimated to control between 85 and 90 percent of the U.S. nursery market, including fertilizer, pesticide, and herbicide markets. 85 to 90 percent! They hold over 11 thousand seed patents. So even though Sheep’s Tongue Lettuce and Camel’s Tongue Lettuce are called 2 different things and came from 2 different retailers, the truth of the matter is that they probably both came from Monsanto.

Even worse, in my opinion, is a little 3-letter abbreviation that you may see listed next to seed selections in seed catalogs. PVP stands for Plant Variety Protection. When you see this, it means that is is actually ILLEGAL for you to save seeds from this plant variety for propagation purposes.

This is the part that really steams me. How is it right for a company to force you to continuously purchase seeds from them? This FORCES you, if you wish to grow PVP varieties, to purchase seeds year after year instead of simply saving them from your harvest. How can you put a patent on a seed or plant? How can you force farmers to live a life that is dependent on the whim of a gigantic corporation? How can you prevent someone from living a sustainable lifestyle, where it is possible and logical to buy seeds only once? How is this happening in the U.S??

Regardless of these questions, the fact of the matter is that this IS happening in the United States right now. Many companies, such as Greenpeace, have spoken out against Monsanto, claiming, “Monsanto-no food shall be grown that we don’t own.” Monsanto rakes in BILLIONS of dollars every year from across the globe with its plant, seed, and chemical technology.

The next step in Monsanto technology is the introduction of chemicals that will allow farmers to control the genetic traits of their plants. So for example, if your tomato plants begin to develop powdery mildew, you can purchase a chemical that, when applied to your tomato plants, will kick on their powdery mildew resistance gene. Of course, both the plants and the chemicals are all owned by Monsanto. I know it sounds like something out of a science fiction movie, but it’s not. To learn more about it, just Google “Monsanto Traitor technology.” It will seriously blow your mind.

How can you avoid this evil monopoly that is Monsanto? You must buy heirloom seeds from a reputable source. Don’t purchase plants or seeds from your local garden store. And don’t purchase conventional seeds from mail order catalogs or internet sites. Plant heirloom seeds, save seeds from your harvest, and plant again the next year. Find other people in your community who are like-minded and hold an annual heirloom seed swap. This is an excellent way to be introduced to new varieties of fruits and vegetables, and increase the diversity of your own seed supply. Don’t bow down to Monsanto. As long as you have the right to purchase and plant heirloom seeds that are not controlled by this evil giant, you should exercise that right.