Viroqua Food Co+op Blog

Why Organic Seeds?

Posted by Charlene Elderkin on Mon, Mar 12, 2012 @ 11:15 AM

Arwyn Wildingway, 

Assistant Produce Manager

High Mowing SeedsSpring circles around again, and as we have for thousands of years, we plant seeds of hope for our future. The seed is the beginning of the cycle and also the end. These days, as we vote with our dollars, we can choose to continue supporting the return to a clean planet by buying seed that was grown organically.

Organic Seed is Better for the Environment

Whether or not seed crops are grown organically has a significant impact on the environment and health of the surrounding communities.

Most crops grown for seed take longer to mature than food crops – the plant must go through its entire life cycle before seeds are mature, and even then there is often a period of curing or drying before seeds are ready to harvest. This lengthy process results in a greater window of time during which any number of pests and diseases can destroy the seed crop.

In conventional seed production, pesticides and fungicides are applied, often at much higher levels than are allowable for food crops. As the Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association asks: “Is it fair for those of us in organic agriculture to want our own farms and environments to be as free of toxins as possible, but expect seed production communities to carry a heavy toxic load so that we can plant cheap conventional seed?”

Organic Seed is Better Suited to Organic Growing Conditions

In the last 50 years the majority of breeding work and development of new varieties has been done with conventional farming practices in mind.

For example, in a conventional system, plants receive infusions of fertilizer delivered directly to the roots and are sprayed with a range of chemicals to protect from pests and diseases. While some conventional breeding programs do consider flavor, more often selections are based on traits like how fast it grows and how well it ships.

In organic farming systems, on the other hand, nutrients come from complex fertilizers such as compost, so plants need vigorous roots to seek out dispersed nutrients in the soil. Organic growers use less and milder applications for pest and disease protection, so plants are required to provide more of their own defense. And, in organic variety selection programs, flavor and appearance consistently top the list of traits to evaluate.

In recent years, more research has gone towards developing and evaluating varieties for organic farmers. High quality organic seed comes from varieties that have proven themselves under organic conditions.

Organic Seed Supports Organic Research

As more people use organic seed, the increased demand encourages more companies and universities to devote resources to research and development of organic varieties, and allows continued improvement of current organic varieties. When you buy organic seed, not only are you getting a “safe seed” and one that is grown in organic conditions like your own farm or garden, but you are supporting the future of organics.

So be thoughtful in all your actions and purchase your seeds at the Viroqua Food Co-op where we have organic choices! We’re here to help you grow.

Tags: Local, Food, Farm, Produce, Plants & Seeds, Organic, Sustainability