Using Organic Seed
Organic gardening is rooted (pun intended) in our ability to obtain organic seed. Certified organic seed is produced by certified organic growers. It’s important to understand that plants from which organic seed is harvested are guaranteed not to have been exposed to toxic chemicals while growing in the field, nor during the harvesting and processing of their seed.
Why all the fuss? Why should we worry about where the seed we use comes from? The reasons are numerous and fairly straight forward:
- Seed crops are very heavy users of whatever is in the soil they’re grown in, especially given the fact that they must be in the ground for a longer period of time then their veggie producing counterparts (in order for them to go through their entire life cycle and produce seed);
- Organically grown seed is better for the soil in which it grows and the community in which it thrives, especially given the fact that use of synthetic agricultural chemicals like pesticides and fungicides during “conventional” production of seed are often used in much higher quantities than would be allowed in the production of food crops;
- The use of organic seed is especially important when dealing with “young” crops (for instance, micro-greens, baby-greens, or sprouts) due to the fact that chemicals in a non-organic seed may not have sufficient time to get diluted out;
- The selection of plant traits performed by organic seed producers are more in line with those wishing to grow and eat healthy produce, which is to say most “conventional” breeding programs make selections based on traits like how fast a plant produces, the expected shelf life of the produce, or how well the produce ships, whereas the organic gardener and/or healthy eater tends to be more interested in the flavor and appearance of the produce;
- Seed grown organically will yield plants that are better adapted to, and more likely to thrive under, organic growing conditions; in addition, high quality organic seed comes from plant varieties that have proven themselves over time to grow and produce well under organic conditions;
- Support of organic seed suppliers helps increase the research and development of organic varieties, which in turn results in continued improvement of existing organic varieties;
- Using seed produced by suppliers from nearby farms offers the added benefit of generating plants that may already be somewhat adapted to local growing conditions;
- Organic seed suppliers make use of sustainable farming methods, so supporting them ends up supporting the methods they make use of in their operations;
We think this list is compelling. But why rely on our reasons? Listen to what recognized expert Dr. John Navazio of the Organic Seed Alliance has to say on the subject, in a video interview entitled What’s So Special about Organic Seeds.
Labels to Look For
When seeking out quality organic products free of genetic modifications, be on the lookout for the following labels: