Monsanto Hide And Seek?

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?


10 thoughts on “Monsanto Hide And Seek?

  1. Hello Nathan… you have finally hit the nail on the head! It can be done if we share information promote seed houses that specialize in heirlooms/non GMO verities and ban together to see that Monsanto and it affiliates stand accountable. To me it’s also bringing awareness to the decades old problem of Toxic Green Waste being sold as organic compost (yes, it’s organic) it’s just not toxic free! But consumers have been sold on organic being healthy… This is were we all need to come together with an understand of what’s healthy and then share that information so the consumer understands. It does no good to raise heirloom or non-GMO seeds if you are growing them in toxic soil…. I look forward to following you on your journey of discovery and I am here if you have any questions Annie Haven

    • Thanks, Annie. I agree – we, as consumers, are often very misinformed or not told the whole story. I would love to hear more about the organic compost. Thanks for bringing this to light, and thanks for your support!

  2. Great post, chef! I’d love to run it on one of the food online publications i manage ( Let me know if i have your OK to do so.
    Besos, Fernanda

  3. Buy from local farmers who get their seeds from either seed banks or companies that are not supplied by Seminis. AND, for those of us who grow our own food, the best way is to save your seeds from year to year. Most are pretty easy to save and as long as they are not hybrids, that is open pollinated, you’ll get the same great quality from non-GMO seeds from your own crops.

  4. I’m glad to have discovered you, via a post a friend made with this link in it. She and I are both members of a local county Facebook network of small farmers (me the smallest of all I think, since I’m “farming” in containers on the balcony of my small one-bedroom apartment). Thank you for sharing your findings here. I’m always glad to know there are concerned chefs who feel the same concerns about the environment and about issues like GMOs. Sometimes it seems like one more part of some cosmic battle between good and evil, but I try to remember that even if some nice guys finish last, good eventually prevails. My hope in this case is that the human race prevails! Thank you again for sharing, and kudos to you for being concerned enough to find out!

  5. Ok, this is going to sound bad, but I swear it’s a compliment. I, umm, kinda figured that if you had hair, it would be blonde. Glad to see that I had misjudged you. My bad. Thank you for an enlightening and interesting article. Love the Greener world show, Keep up the good work.

  6. Glad to see you investigating the insidious reach Monsanto has in our food supply chain. Complete transparency would mean even knowing which seeds your farm has planted. That’s a bit intimidating but we didn’t get into this mess overnight, so we need to understand it will take time for us to get out. Education is the cornerstone so thank you for this, Chef!

  7. Exactly Nathan! Scary, right?!

    Listen, there is a great big push to label GMO’s. Here is a website with some info:

    And here is blog post on the subject thru Baker Seeds:

    And you should definitely watch the movie: The Future of Our Food

    This is something we all need to be talking about. Thanks for posting on it.

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