Today, sweaty from the gym, I wasn’t quite in the mood to cook just yet, so after ordering a simple meal at my local Thai restaurant with my sous-chef, we began to wonder about where all of the vegetables came from. Not just what supplier or farmer, but where the seeds originate: from the rice to the veggies to the soy sauce.
Before we even finished our meal, we began doing some research on the topic, which included internet research as well as asking my master gardener and farmer friends, and (although we are still researching), our findings are quite unsettling.
Turns out, a company Seminis, (established in 1994 – a conglomeration of a number of Dutch seed companies) sells over 3,500 seed varietals and controls about 40% of the US vegetable market and 20% of the world market. In the US, they supply 55% of the lettuce, 75% of the tomatoes, and 85% of the peppers supplied in supermarkets. Basically, if you have ever eaten a salad, you are eating the produce from Seminis seeds.
The unsettling part? Monsanto bought this company for 1.4 billion dollars (cash!) in 2005. Now that’s a lot of Lattes…
I am a big supporter of small farms, family farms, organics, non-GMO’s. It has been easy for me to stay away from the Monsanto GMO crops like corn and wheat since I buy organic flours and corn and stay away from processed food which contains things like GMO canola oil and high fructose corn syrup. However, this new discovery made me realize that by the mere fact that Monsanto controls so many seeds (albeit non-GMO), that through the simple act of enjoying a meal (in fact most meals) – I have probably still been supporting Monsanto!
Are there ways to farm conventionally without using these seeds that have been bred and grafted for conventional farming? Do farmers really have options? Do consumers who garden have options? And, how will consumers ever really know what they are eating or not if GMO labeling is not mandated and varietals are not labelled?
For a list of Monsanto/Seminis varietals, you can look at their website. As I teach people, farmers markets are so great because you can ask your farmers all about their produce. I know I’ll be asking my farmer friends about varietals this Sunday when I visit the Hollywood Farmers Market.
I’m on the search to find out. With Monsanto buying up world seed companies… is Monsanto really avoidable?