25 Sep Why Heirloom Seeds Ensure Our Survival
Modern technology has in many ways brought us conveniences that improve our quality of life. But there are some ways in which commercial interests of large companies have become a threat to our natural way of life that raise some concerns.
We need to become aware of natural laws and our inherent right to personally maintain our access to the bounty of Mother Nature, as well as the dangers involved with tampering with nature in ways that may jeopardize our future food security, as well as our health.
Genetically Modified Organisms
Genetically Modified Organisms or GMO seeds have been genetically altered by inserting DNA from completely different species and organisms. This is done to create certain characteristics such as having an inbuilt pesticide ability or to make them more receptive to chemical fertilizers. These other species can be as diverse as fish, frogs and bacteria. Common crops for genetic modification are corn, cotton, soybeans and wheat. These seeds are flooding the global seed market at the moment.
This becomes a thorny issue when these patented, often sterile seeds infiltrate other crops by natural dispersion, or are heavily pushed by multinationals who seek to control our food supply for purely monetary reasons. Apart from the ethical questions about altering Nature’s design so drastically and then owning the result, there is also a big question mark over the effects of food from GMO plants on our health. There have been some worrying studies that show modified foods can interact with our bodies in ways we have not yet fully come to understand. There have been links made between GMO foods and illness such as cancer and gut stresses such as gluten intolerance (you can read more here).
If something goes wrong with major crops, it can have a devastating effect. Biodiversity is what protects us from disease or plague in the sense that the more variety there is, the more options we have to fall back on if there is a decimation of our main supplies. Genetic variety allows for a vigorous and vital reservoir of seeds we can access when necessary. Not only that, but when plants have been growing in the same area for generations and their seeds collected and re-sown, they have been shown to adapt to their environment and develop more flavour and genetic robustness.
South Africa has many rural communities that rely extensively on subsistence farming. This is where GMO’s are starting to really hit the hardest. We have a heritage of a variety of subsistence crops, especially crops such as mielies. Seed saving has been a living tradition, a part of the natural cycle of life and connection to the earth. These seeds that have been passed down through generations are naturally adapted to their specific environments. These are our precious heirlooms. Now GMO’s are being aggressively pushed and are seriously endangering the propagation of heirloom seeds for our future generations. If heirloom seeds die out, or are infiltrated with unknown GMO factors, all that will be left will be GMO seeds that are owned by huge companies, that have to be bought each new growing season.
That’s where Heirloom seeds come in.
The Best Are Passed Down
The very name heirloom says it all. Heirloom seeds are considered valuable because they are a heritage. They have evolved naturally with the land and under the loving cultivation of their growers. Heirlooms are passed down because they have certain valuable qualities, such as hardiness, superior nutrition or tastiness, often a combination of all three!
Weak or unpalatable varieties wouldn’t make it down this far, so over a long cycle of time, the best seeds have naturally been selected. They can often be traced back for hundreds of years. Heirlooms are not only about food freedom, they are about history and a sense of continuity and value – and also superior, delicious food!
Nobody “Owns” Them
Heirloom seeds aren’t subject to plant breeders rights and patents so you are free to sell, barter, exchange or plant them at your own discretion.
Heirloom seeds are always open pollinated, which means that you can replant the seeds every year to grow a new crop. Open pollinated doesn’t necessarily mean heirloom though, as there are now new varieties of seeds that have been developed that haven’t necessarily been passed down through generations. These are finer points in the heirloom debate though that most breeders agree are open to discussion.
This is what heirloom seeds are about. An important aspect of the GMO debate is that of self-sustainability. The ideal is that it is possible to create your own piece of Eden in the web of life and live in harmony with the natural cycles. Buying new seeds every season because your seeds are sterile has never before been a natural part of the cycle of life. Living in touch with the land means you reap what you sow, and so have seeds for next year’s crop, or can barter, exchange or sell seeds amongst your community.
It’s not about whether you should sell seeds or not, but about the seeds you sell being viable so that people have the choice to keep propagating the seeds if they choose – that’s what seeds are for after all – they grow plants!
It’s also about having the right to choose whether or not you are willing to take your chances with the health of you and your loved ones with modified food that has not really been properly understood yet in terms of human nutrition and its interaction with our bodies.
More than that, growing your on food is a way to become less dependent on store bought foods, whose prices are skyrocketing all the time.
The more you support those trying to preserve this precious resource and keep the heritage alive, the more you get involved with growing, exchanging, spreading awareness, the more chance we have of keeping and passing this generational love from the earth on.
This way we can play our part in ensuring our food freedom and security, as well as nourish future generations with an exciting, romantic variety of real, authentic, quality food.
We have just brought in an exciting range of Heirloom Seeds for sprouting and microgreens from a Proudly South African supplier, so that you can enjoy the benefit of growing Heirlooms in your very own kitchen, to serve healthy greens at your table that have been passed down to you as a gift through time.