Archive for genetically modified food

Industrialized Food

Posted in Problems with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 12, 2010 by PickMeYard

A friend asked me  recently why I would go through so much trouble to grow our own fruits and vegetables when I could just buy them in the grocery store.  My answer is that I don’t consider it “trouble” to garden in our yard and I have more control over the food my family is eating.  My post today is only one reason we are backyard gardeners, but it is a big one. 

Grayson eating breakfast in our garden


My biggest concern is genetically modified (GM) food.  There is a lot of talk about it in the media lately that can be confusing.  There is a huge amount of information to sort through, but it is absolutely crucial that we all understand what is happening.  We are all part of a huge biological experiment. We are the guinea pigs.  


Food is being industrialized.  Genetically modified foods have been engineered for many reasons, but the bottom line is that food is being genetically modified for bigger profits.  Genetic engineering is done by splicing genes through molecular cloning and transformation to alter the organism’s genes.  

This is a new thing for scientists so they are making many mistakes while they try to figure it out.  The problem is not that scientists are advancing technology, it’s that they have already let out their genetically modified seeds for economic reasons and the seeds are wreaking havoc on a global scale.  The responsibility lies mostly with a company called Monsanto. 

Monsanto was founded in St. Louis, Missouri in 1901.  They are credited with products such as saccharin, aspartame, DDT, Agent Orange, Round-Up, bovine growth hormone, PCB’s, and many, many others.  Monsanto has genetically modified thousands of seeds. They own these seeds because they have them patented.  They have over 11,000 patented GMO seeds.  

In 2003, the Washington Post did a front-page article on the environmental damage that Monsanto did to a small town in Alabama.  They had a factory there that was knowingly dumping PCB and mercury waste into local creeks for 40 years.  They paid out over $700 million in settlements for this case.  

There are others like this one.  Monsanto has been sued and settled many times for poisoning its employees.  In January of 2010, Monsanto was named company of the year in Forbes.  So…do you feel comfortable with them making the food you feed your children?  I don’t want them anywhere near our food. 

The research that has been done on the effects of consuming GM food is questionable.  There is a serious conflict of interest between the lobbyists and the FDA.  The facts that are coming out speak volumes.  My opinion is that this experiment needs to come to an end and we need to let nature do what she does best…be nature. Do we need to improve nature?  

These huge food companies seem to rule the world.  They are extremely powerful and have a dangerous amount of control over our food supply.  Our only defense is knowledge.  These powerful companies do not want us to be informed and they don’t want us to question what they are doing.  To them it is about money and to us it is about safety.  

I want to have a choice about whether I choose to buy GM food.  If the food isn’t labeled as GM, then there is no way to know.  The only way to know if you are eating GM food is from a website called  I urge you to visit this website.  It is very informative.  They also have a free app for the iPhone called ShopNoGMO.  

High fructose corn syrup is on the GM list and so is sugar.  Apparently, if the label doesn’t say cane sugar or dehydrated cane sugar then it is probably sugar from beets.  There is a 90% chance that it is GM beet sugar.  After you visit the website, you will realize that you are probably eating a lot more GM food than you thought. 

Genetically modified organisms (GMO’s) have been linked to thousands of allergic reactions, sick, sterile, and dead livestock and damage to virtually every organ and system studied in lab animals.  Almost every safety study on animals that has been carried out independently has shown adverse or unexplained effects.  

Switzerland has put a moratorium on GM food until 2012. 

The European Union has GM foods, but they require that it be labeled as such. Europe is showing a lot of resistance toward GM food. 

The Consumers Union of Japan are very against GM foods.  They say that independent research is being blocked by the GM corporations that own  the GM seeds and reference material. 

A subsidiary of Monsanto in India is allegedly employing children for $.50 a day to handle poisonous pesticides.  More than 4,500 farmers have committed suicide because of the debt the GM seeds have caused them.   The suicide rate is increasing. 

The United States has no regulations on GM food.  There is no labeling requirement.  The concern over GM foods hasn’t been high in the U.S. and we haven’t shown much concern about it.  

A really good documentary was released in 2005 called The Future of Food.  Click here  to watch it for free.  I highly recommend this film.  You won’t be able to stop watching it.  It is very easy to follow and you will be glad that you watched it.  The movie answers a lot of questions. 

Another great documentary is The World According to Monsanto that was released in 2008.  Click here to watch it for free. 

A good website to visit for more information is Jeffrey M. Smith’s Institute for Responsible TechnologyHe also has a blog that is linked to the website. 

The future of genetically modified food lies in anything out of the ocean, livestock, poultry, insects, trees and etc..   The possibilities are endless.  The future is up to us.  We need to be educated, stand together, grow together and demand that they leave our genes alone. 

Leave our Genes Alone


Come grow with us!

Seedy Starts

Posted in Seeds with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 16, 2010 by PickMeYard

Seed Catalogs

We order our seeds from seed catalogs.  The above picture shows what we receive in the mail every year.  Most seed companies have a yearly catalog they will send you.  We love these catalogs.  My son and I sit for hours and take notes of the new and exciting seeds that we want to order.  We spread them all over the rug and say, “oooh…look at this one!”  Most catalogs will give lengthy descriptions about each seed they offer and it is quite educational.  Some of these catalogs have gorgeous pictures and read more like a book than a catalog.  Our favorite seed companies are Landreths, Baker Creek, Johnny’s,  and Horizon Herbs.

We used to buy our little vegetable plants at the big hardware stores such as Home Depot and Lowe’s.  It was easy, but expensive. I learned quickly that it is much better to grow your plants from seed. It definitely makes the extra effort worth it.  Also, there is a ton of controversy over genetically modified food (GMO’s) and growing from seed allows you to control what you grow…and eat.  If you save the seeds from the foods you grow then you have even more control. Saving your own seeds is easy and fun and everybody should do it. 

I highly recommend the documentary Food Inc. .  Our future depends on these issues and how they’re handled.  For someone who is new to gardening and just trying to get something started, I do recommend buying the small plants from Home Depot or Lowe’s.  If you keep them in full sun and water them, you will be bitten by the gardening bug.  It won’t be long before you are ordering and saving your own seeds too.

A great way to store your seeds is in an air tight container.  Ideally, they should be in an environment that has 50% humidity and at 50 degrees.  That can be tough to accomplish.  It’s important that they be kept dry and in a place where the temperature doesn’t fluctuate too much.  The cooler it is, the better.  Most seeds are viable for up to 3 years and some up to 10 years if stored correctly. 

One of my favorite authors, Steve Solomon, has a great idea for keeping his seeds stored.  He bought a pound of silica gel desiccant crystals (inexpensive) from a craft store and keeps them in a cloth sachet in the seed storage container.  The crystals are dark blue when they are dry and pink when they have soaked up all the moisture they can hold.

They can be reactivated by heating them in an oven at 212 degrees on a cookie sheet.  Don’t heat them any hotter than this.  They must be put into an airtight container after they have cooled for a little while. This is an important step so they don’t soak up moisture while they’re cooling off completely. You can do this reactivation as many times as necessary.  I bet these silica sachets would be great in the back of a humid closet as well.

Empty eggshells for planting seeds with labels

When I cook eggs I use a knife and lightly tap the top off the egg. After I cook the egg, I always rinse the inside out and I poke a hole in the bottom of the shell.  I let them dry in a bowl with a paper towel underneath to soak up the extra moisture.  When we plant the seeds in the eggshells we put the empty shells back into an egg carton.  When it’s time to put the seedling in the ground, we gently break off the bottom of the shell.  It helps to lightly crush the edges of the shell too.  It stays intact long enough to get it into the ground without disturbing our seedling and provides calcium to the young plant.

This week we planted some pumpkin seeds from Jamaica, pigeon peas from Echo, Hawaiian sunrise papaya, melocoton  cassabanana, garden berry naranjillo, Pandora striped rose eggplant,  jelly melon kiwano,  strawberry husk ground cherry, extra long dancer snake melon,  two types of bitter melon,  several unique eggplant varieties, Malabar spinach,  jicama (yam bean), New Zealand spinach, winged bean and two types of tomatillos. 

Summer in Southwest Florida can be extremely hot and humid.  Most vegetables and herbs the rest of the country are growing in the summer won’t grow in  south Florida during this time.  So, during the summer we grow lots of tropicals.

Seed packets

Come grow with us!