Tag Archives: biodiversity

Why Quality Seeds Matter

These days many gardeners are concerned about the quality of the seeds they use in their gardens.  There are a few reasons why it matters:

  1. Local — Seeds that are cultivated in your local geography are adapted to meet the soil and weather conditions of your local geography. That means they need less outside interference to thrive. Hmmm, seems a little obvious when you say like that, doesn’t it?
  2. Biodiversity — With an estimated 80% of all seeds worldwide being provided by only a couple of companies who can limit the variety of seeds  available, the world is in danger of losing many plant varieties that were adapted to micro geographies.
  3. Nutritional quality — Poor quality seeds produce poor quality food. With all the effort put into gardening, you want to be growing nutritionally rich food. Plus, it tastes better.
  4. Organic — If you want truly organic vegetables, doesn’t it make sense to use organically produced seeds, as well as ensuring you’re cultivating it in an organic environment?

The question of whether to choose heirloom or heritage seeds, rather than random seeds which pretty much all come from the same Monsanto bin, is an important one to consider.

Related Topics:

Gina Mallet‘s book, Last Chance to Eat is an easy to read story of how food has changed as a result of the post- WWII environment. What I found especially interesting was the many unique local varieties of any given food over very short distances. Who knew?!

Food Labels: Heirloom or Heritage

Food Label Tag GreenThere’s lots of talk about the higher nutritional quality of heirloom or heritage produce, which hasn’t been genetically modified and is often naturally adapted to a particular growing region. In recent years, many heirloom or heritage products have become more readily available.

<b>Heirloom Tomatoes, GBE Organic</b>

Heirloom Tomatoes, GBE Organic

One of the most common heirloom produce I’ve encountered is tomatoes. ‘Tis the season to check out your local organic and a farmers markets and see the fabulous variety of colours, textures, shapes, and sizes on hand.

Excerpt from Ecoholic

“Did you know that three-quarters of the world’s edible crops have disappeared over the last century? Yep, that’s according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), which also says we used to eat about 10,000 different species of food plants and now 90% of the world’s diet is down to 120. It seems the food biz didn’t like all that variety and whittled it down to a few hardy, easily harvested types with a uniform appearance that could be patented and sold. Heirloom or heritage fruits, vegetables, herbs, and even turkeys are those that have been revived from our history. These strains have been around for at least 50 years, and their seeds are pollinated by nature, not man. The term is not regulated.”

Excerpt from SustainableTable.org

“Traditionally, farmers throughout the world have raised thousands of different animal breeds and plant varieties. However, since today’s industrial farms rely upon only a few specialized types of livestock and crops, thousands of non-commercial animal breeds and crop varieties have disappeared, along with the valuable genetic diversity they possessed. Fortunately, a growing number of sustainable farmers are preserving agricultural variety and protecting biodiversity by raising “heritage” or “heirloom” animal breeds and crops.”

“Heritage vs. Heirloom: They both mean the same thing, though “heritage” is usually used to describe animals, while “heirloom” refers generally to kinds of plants. These terms describe varieties of animals and crops that have unique genetic traits, were grown or raised many years ago, and are typically produced in a sustainable manner.”

Saving Seeds Project

As Jonathan Drori reminds us in his Why We’re Storing Billions of Seeds TED Talk, the world and every facet of our existence on it, relies on plant life. Think that’s overstating the case? Try breathing without oxygen.

Drori’s presentation is a brief but powerful reminder that we are losing our biodiversity very quickly and that projects such as the Millennium Seed Bank are a must if we expect to one day undo some of the damage we’ve done to this planet.

Current financial crises are affecting initiatives worldwide, and the Millennium Seed Bank is no exception. The Reuters report headline Seed bank for the world threatened by financial crisis from earlier this year sums it up.

“A third of the planet’s plants are categorized as threatened with extinction, which could have dramatic effects on human life, trade and the environment.”