Changing Perspectives – A Brief History of Monsanto and Seed Houses Who Got Screwed

Territorial seeds catalogue

Last week I posted about what I discovered recently regarding the ownership of many of my favourite seed companies. This morning Bill Guerrant from White Flint Farm  sent me a link to this very helpful article at Northwest Edible Life which I decided to post as a follow up. All is not how it seems on the surface and we often need to keep our minds open and continue researching to help us have a realistic perspective. I must say this is a huge relief to me because I love Territorial Seeds not just because it is local to the Pacific NW but because its catalogue also contains great planting advice on a broad array of vegetables.

People are under the impression that Territorial Seeds and other beloved seedhouses are owned by or otherwise eager to peddle Monsanto seed onto unsuspecting home gardeners. While this story line has found a lot of play on various websites, it’s inaccurate and, I believe, does a lot of harm to very ethical seed houses who are doing everything they can to provide the best product to their customers while making business decisions that allow them to stay in business. Read the entire article.

 

Which Seed Catalogues Can I Trust?

Catalogues galore

Catalogues galore

I mentioned yesterday that the seed catalogues have started to arrive. This is a great time to curl up by the fire and drool over all those wonderful photos in the seed catalogues that in your saner moments you know won’t grow in your climate zone but which you just can’t resist when it is too cold to grow anything. This year I have done some research on who owns our seed companies and which we can trust to have organic non GM seed.

I always like to buy from those companies that specialize in heritage and organic seed like:

Seed Savers Exchange

Bountiful Gardens

Peaceful Valley Farm Supply 

or those that are based in the local Washington area

Territorial Seeds

Raintree Nursery

I also cannot resist a couple of big company catalogues like the English classic  Thompson and Morgan and Park Seeds which have products I can’t seem to find anywhere else.

Unfortunately I discovered recently that many of my favourite companies are owned by Monsanto or Mars.

Seeds of Change – I love their seeds but someone told me recently that they are owned by MARS  incorporated, one of the largest food conglomerates in the world. So though Seeds of Change itself provides ethical seed, non GM products, its parent company has a different philosophy. As Tim Stanton who alerted me to this commented: They present themselves as a warm, inviting, environmentally conscious company, but Seeds of Change has a money-hungry corporate core.  Tim goes on to say:

Even though Seeds of Change signed the safe seeds pledge (pledging to not sell genetically modified seed), Mars. Inc. spent almost 400k to defeat Prop 37 (which would have required the simple labeling of GM food so PEOPLE could make informed choices). Seeds of Change had been a New Mexico based company since the beginning (since it started out small and independent) but Mars uprooted it from original place of operations in New Mexico and moved it to Los Angeles, leaving almost their entire faithful New Mexico crew jobless. They even abandoned their warehouse cats in the process –

So if you want to get away from any seed company that is associated with Monsanto, here is a very helpful list that documents some of the companies owned by Monsanto who may be using GM food. Unfortunately I notice some of my other favourites (including ones listed above) are on the list. It also contains a list of those that sell safe seed even though they have not signed the safe seed pledge.

So you may also want to check out this link to where you can research seed companies that have signed the Safe Seed Pledge,

I would love to hear your comments on this. How do we decide which seeds to use? Should we be concerned about who owns the seed companies?

Earth Day To Do List from The Soulsby Farm

This may be a day late but it is so good that I could not resist reposting it -Thanks to the people at  Soulsby Farm – A Very Small Farm for posting it yesterday.

Earth Day to Do List

I had a big rant written but decided to make my Earth Day wish simple…. Let’s all put an end to GMO seeds and food. Here’s what you can do:

1) Urge the FDA to require the mandatory labeling of genetically engineered foods. You have a right to know about the food you eat and what you feed your family. Go to http://justlabelit.org/ and sign the petition.

2) Do not buy seeds from Companies that sell GMO seeds. Which is basically the majority of them. Here are a couple of links to companies not to buy from:http://myfolia.com/groups/250-life-wants-to-be-free/topics/2867-companies-that-sell-monsanto-products/posts and http://www.garden-of-eatin.com/how-to-avoid-monsanto/

3) Buy locally from Organic Farms – Even if they don’t have the ‘Organic’ label but believe in sustainable farming and do not use GMO’s. I buy from the Amish in my area. They aren’t certified by the government but they also don’t use pesticides.

4) Spread the word. Tell your friends and family. Post it on Facebook. Write to your local congressman or state rep.

5) Don’t invest your money in biotech stock. Move it into something else.

  • Genetically engineered foods are required to be labeled in the 15 European Union nations, Russia, Japan, China, Australia, New Zealand, and many other countries around the world.
  • A recent poll released by ABC News found that 93 percent of the American public wants the federal government to require mandatory labeling of genetically engineered foods.

Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) results from a discipline called Genetic Engineering which involves taking genes from one species and inserting them into another. For example, genes from an arctic flounder which has “antifreeze” properties may be spliced into a tomato to prevent frost damage. It is impossible to guide the insertion of the new gene. This can lead to unpredictable effects. Also, genes do not work in isolation but in highly complex relationships which are still not fully understood. Any change to the DNA at any point will affect it throughout its length in ways scientists cannot predict. The claim by some that they can is both arrogant and untrue. – Baker Creek Seed Website

Using Homegrown Stevia

Last year I posted an article about how our food choices are manipulated by the global mall.  I talked about Stevia:

which is 10 times sweeter than sugar, easy to grow  and with virtually no calories.  However it was banned from the American market about the same time that Monsanto introduced its artificial sweetener aspartame because an “anonymous firm” lodged a complaint with the FDA  Read more

This year I have two stevia plants thriving in my backyard and enjoy getting our visitors to sample the incredibly sweet leaves.  So now I find myself needing to experiment with using it as a sweetener.  I harvest the leaves when the branches look as though they are about to flower and dry them in the microwave – it only takes a minute or two.  I usually start with 30 seconds then continue in 10 second increments until the leaves are just dry.  When they cool down they will be totally dry.

At this stage I use stevia mainly for beverages, though my friend Cheryl has found that adding 5 stevia leaves straight off the plant to a pot of pears before she cooks them is ample to sweeten home preserved fruit.

I make a Ginger Stevia syrup that I then add to different summer beverages.

GINGER STEVIA SYRUP

  • 2 cups water
  • 1 – 2 tablespoon dried stevia, crushed – I use a mortar and pestle
  • ¾ cup ginger root, finely chopped or grated
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla
  • ¼ cup lemon juice or 1/2 cup lemon verbena leaves chopped
  • 1 cup mint leaves (optional)

Bring water to boil. Add ginger & stevia, as well as the lemon verbena and mint if you are using them.  Boil for 10 minutes, strain into a heat resistant container. Add vanilla and lemon juice. This syrup will store in the refrigerator for several weeks.

Homemade Stevia ginger ale

I first started making this recipe when I discovered that most ginger ales have no ginger in them at all and were usually full of high fructose corn syrup.

Add 1-2 oz syrup to a glass depending on how sweet you like your drinks, top with 6 oz sparkling water and ice cubes. Enjoy.

Citrus/ Mint Iced tea punch

  • 8 teaspoons Loose Leaf red or black tea Or 8-10 Teabags
  • l cup Fresh Mint Leaves’
  • 8 cups Boiling Water
  • 1 cup Orange Juice
  • 1 Orange,Cut Into Thin Slices
  • 1 Lemon,Cut Into Thin Slices
  • 1 Lime,Cut Into Thin Slices
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup stevia syrup
  • 2 litre bottle sparkling mineral water or soda water.

This is a favourite for our summer BBQs & picnics. Put tea & mint in a heat resistant glass or ceramic pot. Pour in the boiling water & steep for 30 minutes. Strain & refrigerate. Pour into a large pitcher. Add orange juice. Add orange, lemon & lime rinds. Add ginger syrup & mineral water and serve with ice cubes.  If you prefer a more lemony flavour add 1/2 cup lemon juice or a cup of lemon verbena leaves to the tea mix.

For more stevia recipes visit sugarfreesteia.net