So you've taken the sustainable food pledge. You buy local and organic, and you're feeling good about it. Now you want take the natural next step and start growing your own veggies. First you need some seeds, those tiny plant embryos that will transform into the most local, environmentally friendly dishes your table has ever seen. Right?
Seeds, as author Margaret Roach explains in a recent New York Times op-ed, are often not as innocent as they seem. In fact, growing vegetables for their seed usually involves more chemical inputs than growing those same crops for food. That's because plants harvested for their seed have to be in the ground longer than plants harvested for food. And more time in the ground means more exposure to pests and pathogens:
Certain pests and pathogens don’t even show up until a plant’s sexual maturity, meaning seed farmers have their own bonus set of possible invaders to grapple with. In recognition, regulatory agencies may permit greater applications of petroleum-based synthetic pesticides, fertilizers and fungicides for farmers who have planted specifically to produce seeds for later planting, rather than crops for immediate consumption.
That's not to say that all seeds on the market will have come from a "high input" system. But you may have to dig a little deeper to uncover the story behind the seeds you buy. And why not? Food begins with seeds:
In our locavore-centric society, we increasingly ask where every bite of food came from. Since our food (or what our food was fed) comes from seeds, isn’t it time to ask where those all-important embryos, innocent or otherwise, come from, too?
Margaret Roach is the author of “The Backyard Parables: Lessons on Gardening, and Life.”
(via The New York Times)
Photo via The Nest