This article is taken from Garden Harvest Supply and is in response to a frequently asked question by their customers and I have had the same question from friends and colleagues. I believe this covers the bases well. You may choose to visit their site by using the link above. – Chef Bren Ankrum – Culinary Editor
Many of their customers have asked, “Why buy organic vegetable seeds when I grow my vegetables organically; isn’t “regular” seed just as good?”
The answer is “No, if you are growing your garden organically, it is best to start with organically produced vegetable seeds.”
- Pesticides and Fungicides are used on conventional seed crops. Seed production is not governed by the same
controls that apply to the food supply. Most seed crops take longer to mature than food crops do as the plant must go through a complete life cycle in order to produce those seeds. What this means is this: as there is more opportunity for pests and diseases to destroy a seed crop, seed crop farmers rely heavily on the use of synthetic agricultural chemicals in order to control the pests and diseases during conventional seed production. The residue from these chemicals can then be passed along to your family and into the environment.
- Organic seeds are more suited to being grown organically. Organic vegetable seed, produced without the synthetic pesticides and fungicides, produces plants that are more adapted to organic growing conditions, which means they will grow better than regular seeds under organic growing conditions. Doesn’t that make absolutely perfect sense? Doesn’t it also make sense that plants produced from commercial seeds will be more susceptible to pests and diseases as they develop a resistance to the most commonly used commercial applications? Organic plants are basically forced to develop stronger root systems in order to seek out the dispersed nutrients in the soil so that they can build their own more natural defenses, which are then passed along, through the genetics of the plant, to the seeds it produces.
- Supply and demand govern the future availability of organic vegetable seeds. The increased demand for organic vegetable seeds will lead to an overall increase in the production of organic seed, which also means a much bigger selection, and eventually, less cost associated with the production of that seed.
When Organic food consumption first became popular, most people were buying locally from farmers or “back yard” gardeners that they knew were growing without commercial fertilizers, pesticides and fungicides; but the demand for organic vegetables increased, and along with it, the need for a process by which the consumer, you, could be sure that you were actually eating organically produced foods. Enter the USDA’s National Organic Program (NOP), which certifies the certifiers, who work as an extension of the federal government in accordance with a strict set of guidelines that determines exactly “what” constitutes organic farming. These certification specialists ensure that every single regulation, guideline and rule is adhered to by anyone claiming to produce or grow organic food or produce organic seeds. There are more than 312 product standards for fruits, vegetables and specialty products, which includes organic vegetable seeds.
The consumer brochure for the USDA National Organics Program (NOP) states: “Organic food is produced by farmers who emphasize the use of renewable resources and the conservation of soil and water to enhance environmental quality for future generations. Organic meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products come from animals that are given no antibiotics or growth hormones. Organic food is produced without using most conventional pesticides; fertilizers made with synthetic ingredients or sewage sludge; bioengineering; or ionizing radiation. Before a product can be labeled ‘organic,’ a Government-approved certifier inspects the farm where the food is grown to make sure the farmer is following all the rules necessary to meet USDA organic standards. Companies that handle or process organic food before it gets to your local supermarket or restaurant must be certified, too.”
In short, every single process is monitored and inspected when organic vegetable seeds are coming to market. There are very hefty fines for claiming that your product is organic when it is not, so you can feel assured that when it says “organic”, it really is organic.
Now, the choice is yours. Yes, cheaper, regular seeds will most likely grow in your organic garden; but with the current evidence, for the best results and for the health and well-being of your family and the environment, if you choose to grow organically, you should start with organic vegetable seeds.