Organic farms and practices are the backbone of our path to a heathier planet. It is obvious to most that the use of harsh petrochemicals and carcinogenic herbicides has lead our agriculture into a dark place. The march to industrialize agriculture has sucked the life from many rural areas and has been the culprit of many social issues such as food insecurity, food deserts and overall unhealthy eating patterns of Americans.
We are now seeing this trend change. As consumers, we care more and more about what we eat, where our food comes from and what has been sprayed on it. So too are farmers caring more and more about where their seed comes from. This is no coincidence as organic farmers are required to be much more scrupulous when they need to problem solve issues in the field or the garden. Not only are farmers giving great care into the fertilizers and insecticides they are using but also what kind of seed they are using and where it comes from. To add to this shift from the use of conventional seed to organic seed, the national organic plan that is followed by all organically certified farmers requires that organically produced seed be used when possible. These changes in policy and practice have led to the increased production of organic seed in the United States. Just like produce, this seed must be grown in a way that is in compliance with organic regulation.
So, here is the million-dollar question: Why does this matter and why should you care? Organic seed production is incredibly important for several reasons. Firstly, seed production is a difficult and lengthy process. This means if conventionally produced, seed can be a target of many nasty chemicals. This seems logical to most. What is less clear is if the seed that is being produced organically is superior to its conventional counterpart. If the argument for being more plant friendly is not winning you over, perhaps this will.
Organic seed is produced on an organic farm using organic practices. This means different processes than a conventional farm. Perhaps wider bed spacing, slow release organic fertilizers, use of biologically rich soil and less contact with harsh conventional chemicals. The outcome is a seed that has been produced in a similar environment to that of the organic farms in which it will be grown. Additionally, an organically produced seed crop typically will be a variety that has been bred for organic farm application. Again, wider bed spacing, organic fertilizers and so forth.
So, the trillion dollar question we get is: Is organic seed better? Yes. For the reasons set forth. Not just because it’s a better process for the environment but also because it is seed that is intended to grow in similar conditions as the organic farmer. Think of it this way. Would you shop at hardware store for new shoes? No. You go to a shoe store. In a similar fashion a wise and continuous grower will shop with seed companies producing seed with qualities that will thrive in their farm applications, all while being a better steward to our precious planet.