Did you know that only 5-10% of organic veggies in this country are grown with organic seed. Did you even know there was such a thing? Obviously, organic seed comes from plants which were grown organically and are not treated (with non-organic) seed treatments.
So I wonder, how important is it to most organic eaters that their food be grown with organic seed. Not being certified organic, for us it is not a huge deal and about 10-15% of our seed each year is organic. For farms who are certified they have to get organic seed where it is commercially available (and not a huge premium, it is something like 25% more.)
As we are starting to think about next year, stuff like this is coming to our minds more and more. And this morning I was reading an article in a Veggie Farmer magazine that made us talk about it. I think most consumers don't really worry about organic seed, or even think about it. We think about it, for a couple reasons.
First, although we don't always buy organic seed we want to be pretty careful about seed treatments. We don't want our seeds soaked in chemicals. There are organic seed treatments and those are life savers, helping mainly with seeds germinating and growing healthy in cold damp spring soil.
Then there is, in my mind, the main benefit of organic seed. The seed's parents were grown under organic conditions, so hopefully the plant that results will be better tolerant of an organic life. Better able to handle stress, fight off bugs, and resist disease. And while this is a nice benefit of organic seed, it is usually not enough to make us buy a variety we would not otherwise get. There are so many variables to factor in to selections, organic seeds is just one little piece, at least for us.
Then there is the coming wave of organic seeds, grown specifically for organic growers. These have promise. The article I mentioned talked about carrot varieties being grown specifically for early growth of the carrot tops. Wow, would that be nice! Carrots are a bit of challenge to grow sustainably because their tops grow SO SLOW. Every weed in the world is established before the carrot looks like more then a tiny fern, and since their leaves are so small, any weed competition is a problem... If the tops grew faster we would spend fewer hours weeding the carrots! Things like this would push us to buy more organic seed.
For now, we will keep using the organic/ conventional label on our seed as just one of many factors we consider when deciding what to grow, a huge challenge every year.