Nothing is more prominent in the pursuit of self-reliant living and survival than being able to produce your own food. Just about everybody knows this, but not many people have the first clue about gardening or raising their own crops. Many people think it’s as simple as broadcasting your seeds in the ground and letting nature take it from there (including myself, at one time). Well, I can tell you from personal experience (and failures) it’s not all that simple. Now I’m no expert myself, but I’ve learned a few things along the way from friends who are, and I believe all preppers and survivalists should have a seed bank for long-term self reliance.
The first thing that you need to know when starting a seed bank is; what kind of seeds not to get. Among the seed types are: Heirloom, Hybrid and GMO seeds.
GMO seeds should be avoided at all costs. They are the result of genetic manipulation between two or more organisms (for example; there are GMO tomato seeds that are the result of combining tomato DNA with that of a FISH!) and the plants they produce haven’t even been tested as safe for human consumption by the FDA (it is now believed that consumption of GMO plants and meat products from animals that have been fed GMO plants are the cause of increasing in food allergies and other disorders).
Furthermore, when these plants are introduced into nature, they contaminate and alter natural, organic plants, causing all kinds of chaos to the ecosystem. GMO seeds are designed with a “terminator gene”, which means that the plants produced from these seeds will not produce viable seeds of their own. So if you want more GMO crops, you have to go out and buy more GMO seeds. Which is a highly lucrative plan for Monsanto, but not a very self-sufficient plan for survival.
For more info about the dangers of GMO foods, watch the video below:
Everything You HAVE TO KNOW about Dangerous Genetically Modified Foods from Jeffrey Smith on Vimeo.
Hybrid seeds are also another non-starter. While not technically genetically modified, hybrid seeds come from plants that have been “inbred” by cross-pollination by another plant variety in order to combine the superior qualities of both plants. This is to optimize size, yield and appearance, as well as produce plants that are resistant to diseases. Hybrid plants are also bred to be less susceptible to damage from mechanical processing and shipping.
Sounds pretty good doesn’t it? Well, that’s about where hybrid plants run out of road. While the commercial hybridization of plants has been going on for almost 100 years, and it’s not quite as creepy or dangerous as genetically modified food, hybrid plants do not “breed true” in the second generation. Meaning the seeds produced by the inbred plant will not produce a plant of the same quality – or may not even produce seeds that germinate at all. So you’re right back where you were with GM seeds. In order to grow more hybrid plants, you’ll have to buy more hybrid seeds. And the time and effort that goes into producing hybrid seeds makes them much more expensive.
So we’re left with what are called Non-Hybrid, or Heirloom seeds. These seeds are the result of “open pollination” going back to the days before humans started messing around with hybrids and GMOs. The
lineage of some heirloom seeds may go back hundreds or thousands of years. They’re unmodified and unadulterated, just the way nature made them! They’re called “heirloom” because back in the days before commercial farming, people would literally pass down seeds from one generation to the next.
Heirloom seeds breed true, and each subsequent generation of seeds will product the same plant that came before it. When buying heirloom seeds, make sure they are proven heirloom varieties, and look for germination rates on the packaging. This will indicate that the seeds are fresh.
Some fruits and vegetables that come from hybrid seeds may look a little strange to folks who have bought their produce from the supermarket all their lives (such as the tomatoes and the carrots shown). This is because they haven’t had their natural characteristics bred out of them as hybridized produce has. But regardless of what they look like, produce grown from heirloom seeds are tastier and more nutritious than hybrids.
“A lot of the breeding programs for modern hybrids have sacrificed taste and nutrition,” says George DeVault, executive director of Seed Savers Exchange, the leading nonprofit organization dedicated to saving and sharing heirloom and other rare seeds.
“The standard Florida tomato is a good example. Instead of old-time juicy tangy tomatoes, it tastes like cardboard. It was bred to be picked green and gas-ripened because that’s what was needed for commercial growing and shipping.”
Knowing how to grow your own food is vital for your survival and there’s no time to keep putting off learning how. Even if you don’t have a lot of land for gardening, you can still grow fruits and vegetables in the space you have through container gardening.
To read more about the benefits of heirloom seeds and produce, check out: Heirloom Vegetables: 6 Advantages Compared to Hybrids and Industrial Farming is Giving us Less Nutritious Food from Mother Earth News.