Growing your own food makes a lot of sense, given the rising costs of healthy foods, the increased nutrition that will be gained from your own fresh produce, and the sunlight that you will get in the process. However, most people do not know which seeds they should be buying. There are multiple brands selling what seem to be exactly the same seed products, and all of these companies use industry lingo which is misunderstood by the general public.

If a seed packet does not specify what type of seeds it contains, then you should assume the worst. The seeds will be clearly labeled if they are organic or heirloom.

Seed Types

Heirloom, Heritage You cannot find these seeds in most stores, because these seeds are not very profitable. You can buy them online, or at some farmers' markets. These seeds have been saved by farmers for generations to preserve their genetic integrity. They have strong, full flavors, and are virtually always organic. They are generally easier to grow than most seeds. They are never genetically modified, but they unfortunately cost about three times more than regular seeds. They are worth the price.
Organic The parent plant was not genetically modified, grown with synthetic pesticides, or fertilizers. These are usually a good option if heirloom seeds are not available. Try to buy from a small company if possible, because larger companies generally produce organic varieties that are less nutritious. This is because their soils are so depleted by synthetic fertilizers from previous years. There is also an elevated risk of cross-pollination contamination with the larger companies.
Open Pollinated These seeds can be dried out, and saved over winter, to be grown the next year. There are no guarantees about the use of pesticides or fertilizers in the parent plant, and there may be some chemical residue on the seeds themselves. It is unlikely that they are genetically modified, because genetic modifications usually hinders fertility.
Hybrid These seeds have been intentionally cross-pollinated to yield produce that does not bruise as easily, and ripens much faster. They have the drawback of having a diluted taste, significantly lower nutrition, and if the seeds do germinate the next year; they could have different characteristics. Often, these can not be saved for the next year. Most supermarket varieties are hybrids. The chance of these seeds being genetically modified is still fairly low, as groups like Monsanto, the leading provider of G.M.O. seeds, prefer to market to large scale farmers. It is not easy to convince the general public to grow genetically modified foods, and Monsanto wants to monitor those who do, in order to ensure that their customers do not save patented seeds. Just remember that hybrids are never a desirable crop.


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