Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Safe Seeds

It is always around this time, during the early rise from the dead of winter, that gardeners (and yard-dabblers, like me, who just dabble in the yard and make more of a mess of it than a thing of stunning beauty or bounty) begin to drool over seed catalogs, plot out their grow plans, and begin ordering greenhouse replacement parts.

Me?  I haven't even looked at a seed catalog.  Other than ooohing and aaahing over the pretty pictures, I'm not sure I'd have any clue what to order or why.

Oh, I try to grow a few things, mainly herbs because we use them often in the kitchen, and landscape plants and flowers to make my massive and unruly yard look at little less like wild overgrowth.  But, aiming for a particular type of tomato or apple tree?  Hmmmm...I'm not sure it would do me any good.

I do appreciate the people who DO, though.  And I certainly envy those with greener thumbs than mine (which are sort of an olive drab).

So, to make it even more complicated...if you are really trying to stay green, simply growing plants and fruits, herbs, and veggies might not qualify...if you aren't making sure the seeds you buy are safe.

What?!!!  Fruits and veggies not safe?  Especially those you have cultivated from seed to sprout to blossoming and productive cornucopias of sweetness and savory spice?  Well...much like our beautiful green lawns and perfectly round and brightly colored grocery store produce - beauty is not always the most natural form of good and nutritious food.  To our prejudiced eye, it seems to make psychological sense that a pretty and shiny apple is better than one that is a bit bruised and dull in color...maybe even a little lopsided or uneven in texture or shape.  The unexpected (at least to some) truth is that "ugly" fruit and veggies are oftentimes better for us.  Why?  Well, think about what makes produce "pretty":  pesticides, wax, and other unwanted chemicals to give them a longer shelf life.  "Ugly" produce is usually the stuff that comes from organic farms that use natural deterrents for pests and avoid chemicals and waxes.  Their products don't last as long once removed from the plant, as a result.  And since they lack a protective coating, they tend to show wear and tear more easily.

I, personally, take comfort in clumps of dirt on my potatoes and the odd bee corpse found smooshed between the leaves of lettuce.  And I'm willing to pay more for the privilege of washing my veggies and fruits thoroughly.  I'm cool with waiting until a particular type of produce is in season, so I know what I am buying is as local as possible.  Those strawberries might look tempting in January...but where on earth are they from, how long did they travel, how much did it cost, and is all the pollution it caused worth it?  Not to me.  I'll take my strawberries in the summer.  The same goes for pretty much all other types of produce.

So why wouldn't I want my seeds to be the same.  Free from from contamination...

If you agree...check out Earthly Pursuits - a listing of seed companies that have signed the "safe seed" pledge.


No comments: