Growing organic vegetables is the hottest craze in gardening this year. Although home vegetable gardening has become increasingly popular over the last few years, the organic gardening movement has been blooming profusely because Americans are eating healthier. But, with the growing concern over genetically modified foods (GMOs), organic gardening has taken center stage and has forced Americans to get their hands dirty. Beginner and avid gardeners alike are getting down to earth, planting organic seeds, and buying organically grown vegetables, but not all seeds and vegetables are created equal; there is good seed and bad seed.
Philadelphia’s Organic Food Stores are seeing "green" due to the rising alarm about GMO's (genetically modified organisms). A GMO seed is a brand of gene-modified seed that make plants resistant against the herbicide Roundup, made by Monsanto. Monsanto is well known for poisoning the planet with very controversial products such as the insecticides DDT, PCBs, and Agent Orange, and now they are genetically engineering plants that have genes from bacteria and viruses and developing genes that make plants resistant to toxic chemicals like their own herbicide Round Up. GMO seeds are genetically modified to withstand being destroyed from pesticides that will kill everything around it, including insects and weeds; and we’re buying those seeds to plant in our gardens and feed to our families. Monsanto is also the maker of Recombinant bovine somatotropin (rBGH). (1) RBGH is an artificial growth hormone, a synthetic hormone that increases milk production by 11-16% when injected into cows. (2) GMO seeds are a hot topic in today’s gardening, environmental, agricultural, and farming industries; it’s also a very controversial and extremely important issue that affects all Americans because 70 percent or more of the food we eat is grown from genetically modified seed. (3)
Need proof that GMO’s are harmful to humans? Bad Seed reports the following: “Genetically engineered plants have had either genes from bacteria or viruses, or genes that make plants resistant to toxic chemicals like the herbicide Roundup — spliced into their DNA. These genes were never part of the human diet until the first GMO plant was created in 1996.” (4) The dangers of the human consumption of GMO foods are alarming. In an online article entitled 50 Harmful Effects of Genetically Modified (GM) Foods, author Nathan Batalion Pakalert stated, “…much of GM technology is directed at eliminating surrounding biological environment – competing animals and plants by soaking them with lethal toxins." (5) In conclusion, seventy percent of our food is genetically engineered and Monsanto makes 90 percent of the genetically engineered seeds. (6) Monsanto is the leader, the author, and the finisher of our food fate; unless you buy from seed companies that do not sell GMO seed, and then grow your own food.
The cost of organically grown produce is rising at an alarming rate, so growing your own veggies will not only keep you healthy, but save you lots of green. You don’t need lots of money or a green thumb to begin your own organic vegetable garden. The Philadelphia based Burpee Seed Company’s Chairman and CEO, George Ball, Jr. in an interview in 2011, “Right now, medium-sized tomatoes at my local grocers are priced from 80 cents to $1.20. A single tomato plant in your home garden will, at a conservative estimate, produce 40 to 50 medium to large fruit in a summer—a bounty that would set you back anywhere from 32 to 48 dollars at the supermarket. It gets better. A seed packet contains 25 guaranteed seeds out of 30 total….Your little tomato patch yields you a thousand dollars’ worth of store bought tomatoes from a seed packet that costs you three or four dollars. Your return on investment is 250 to 1, or 25,000 percent." Ball also stated, "Interest in herbs has been growing steadily the last few years, but this year, herbs are all the rage.” As for urban gardeners; not only can you plant vegetables in a garden, but in the flower bed at the steps, raised beds, or in garden containers, and hanging baskets.
Buying organic seeds can keep your family healthy, save you money, and support growers who do not use toxic pesticides and fertilizers. The most commonly grown GMO crops are sugar cane, sweet peppers, tomatoes, bananas, strawberries, corn, soy bean, potatoes, pineapples, cocoa beans, yellow squash, and zucchini. Eighty to Ninety-give percent of corn, canola, soybean, and sugar beets grown in the US are genetically modified. (7) More and more GMO crops are being developed every day. If you can’t grow your own organic vegetables, you can buy local organically grown vegetables at your local organic food store.
Until the growing season begins in March, you can enjoy a few perennial-favorite gardening trends that take place every year right here in the Philadelphia area, where the gardening season in the Northeast begins. The Philadelphia 2013 gardening season begins with the upcoming 2013 Orchid Extravaganza at Longwood Gardens beginning January 19 through March 24. Then, take a stroll through the largest indoor garden display in the world, the 2013 Philadelphia Flower Show, opening March 2 – 10. And finally, return to your own back yard and order your non-GMO seeds from seed companies who have taken the safe seed pledge. There are also other seed companies who claim their seed is non-GMO.
Hop on the garden wagon and get your garden growing this year! Subscribe to this column by clicking the subscribe button above. It's free! If you want to find the latest and up-to-date news on what's happening in your neighborhood, the Philadelphia Gardening Examiner column is the place to start. You'll find all the information you need to start an organic spring, summer and fall vegetable garden.