Growing My Non-GMO Garden

April 12, 2012

Non-GMO ChallengeYou may already realize how critical a non-GMO diet is to the health of our planet—if so, good for you! Or you may be new to this issue and just starting to learn about all of the ways that genetically modified organisms (GMOs) threaten our soil, water, animals, insects and ecosystem at large. Either way, here at the Non-GMO Project we want to help you deepen your commitment to a non-GMO future. That’s why we created the Non-GMO Challenge for Earth Month. The Challenge is an action-oriented platform that offers education, inspiration and rewards for choosing non-GMO, whether it’s for one meal or for the entire month. Over the next few days we’ll be sharing some of the ways that Non-GMO Project staff are stepping up for the Non-GMO Challenge. We hope you’ll join us!

From Dedrian Clark, Program Assistant:

Dede planting her non-GMO garden

My passion for living an organic lifestyle started back in the late 70’s when my daughter was born and I began to search in earnest for food to feed my family that was not laden with pesticides or chemical fertilizers. It soon became clear that the best way for me to ensure I was getting the freshest and healthiest food was to grow my own whenever possible. I have been gardening now for over 25 years. While I absolutely love to garden, and believe it is the best way for my family to ensure we are eating organic naturally grown food, I am finding that whatwe choose to grow in our garden is not such a simple choice anymore.

A little over one year ago, I began working for the Non-GMO Project as a Program Assistant. I have had the great pleasure of answering many of the inquiries concerning our Non-GMO Project Verification Program. As a long time advocate of healthy organic food, this is a dream job! Being a health advocate and gardener, I felt I had a pretty good handle on healthy lifestyle choices. Boy have I had an education! Like many of you, who may be just learning about genetic engineering and the potential threat to our health and environment, I had no idea the extent to which our food has been contaminated with GMOs over the last 15+ years.

When we first discussed creating the Non-GMO Challenge, I figured it would be a piece of cake for me! I’ll just make a commitment to keep up my garden and my careful choices in the grocery store…..and give up the (no doubt GMO) desserts my partner and I like to share on occasion, when we go out to dinner. But with a deeper look into my gardening practices, and with the large scale buying up of seed companies over the last few years by Monsanto, et al, I realized I really wasn’t absolutely sure “where” my seeds were ultimately coming from or who I am actually monetarily supporting through my seed/plant purchases.

After a bit of research, I quickly found a few great resources that would help me make a more “informed” commitment – a commitment to only buy seeds and plant starts from companies that are committed to preserving non-GMO seed sources! For you gardeners who may also be interested in making this commitment, or simply want to ensure you are helping to support these companies, check out Who Owns Your Seed or Catalog Company , and refer to this handy chart showing seed industry structure (unfortunately, biotech companies own a lot of seed companies!). There is also a handy listing of seed companies who have taken the “Safe Seed Pledge”. Although we do not yet have a Non-GMO Project Verified seed company, it is important we support those seed companies who are committed to the principles of preserving a safer and healthier food supply for future generations.

So for me, this challenge turned out not to be the “piece of cake” I had initially thought it would be.  Healthy choices are NOT always so obvious! I realize it takes vigilance and a concerted effort to learn more about the food I eat or grow. And if you are like me, sometimes it takes making a “commitment” – like the “Non-GMO Challenge”, to take that “next” step to ensure that our decisions are truly helping to support a healthy food system for all. Bon appetit!