Thursday, March 12, 2009

Avoiding Frankenfoods

By Jere Gettle
Mansfield, Mo.

It is great to see heirloom varieties becoming so popular. It seems everywhere I look they are being praised. From magazines to radio, television to newspapers, the media have become hooked on the superb flavor and lovely appearance of heirlooms. People just can’t believe vegetables can taste this good.
This renewed interest in our food heritage is also due to the concern people have about the many untested gene-altered or “Frankenfood” crops that are being released onto our tables and the environment. These crops come to us with hardly any safety measures in place, but are being released into the food supply at a breakneck speed, unlabeled and unwanted by consumers.
At the same time, many experts are fearing the increase in allergies may be triggered from these foods that have been spliced with foreign genes that are toxic to Monarch butterflies and other pollinating insects. Studies have also shown that rats are adversely affected when they are fed gene-altered food, but these crops are still being dumped into our food supply with no labeling.
And to top all this, the current U.S. Administration has made it illegal for the citizens of Iraq to save their own heirloom vegetable and grain varieties, which in some cases may have been passed down since the time of ancient Babylon. This means that many thousands of Iraq’s truly unique varieties may have been lost, forever. It is a sad thought that Iraqi farmers were made to plant imported “approved” seeds from multinational corporations who promote poisons, patents and pesticides!
With all this being in the news lately , it is no wonder Americans are turning to naturally grown foods, local products and homegrown produce. It is so much better for us and you don’t have as much worry. Natural food options are showing up in many places and even many public schools are getting involved in helping educate about food safety and local foods.
I hope you will have an abundant season, and enjoy many new varieties. Let’s all work together to save our agricultural heritage and fight gene-altered Frankenfoods.

Jere Gettle is the owner of Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Co., Mansfield, Mo. He travels the world each year collecting open-pollinated heirloom seeds. For more information log onto one of his websites:

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