Surprise! Monsanto et al. Likely Own Your Seed Companies.

Where do you buy your seeds or seedlings from?  I was not aware until very recently that much of our garden seeds are now produced by companies owned by large pharmaceutical/chemical companies such as Monsanto, Dow and Bayer etc. These aren’t seeds that are genetically modified.  These are the plain old garden seeds you see in many grocery stores and nurseries.   What in the world are bio-tech companies doing buying up seed companies?  One can only speculate.  Control is a big word.  What they own they can potentially genetically modify?  Or, what they own they can eliminate, thereby supplying their own GMO seeds to the farmers who can no longer buy the seeds they used to use?

This chart shows us what seed companies are owned by which of the Big Six companies, the largest being Monsanto.  These seeds are NOT genetically modified.  But the patented seed (for example  Big Beef tomato seeds or plants) come from companies owned by these giants.

An article called Forewarned is Forearmed: Veggies owned by Monsanto by A Garden For The House provides a list of seeds and seedlings that are owned by Monsanto.  Take a look: you will be amazed at the plant names you recognise.  You can also assured that the majority of big box stores will be buying their seeds from these guys.

What can you do?  There are still some smaller seed companies around that are not owned by the Big Six.

Ask you seed supplier.  Do they buy from any of these seed companies?  Look for small, local seed companies who collect and sell their own seed.  I am buying from Salt Spring Seeds.  They grow and collect their own seeds.  Unfortunately they can’t ship to the USA because of customs regulations.  They do ship internationally.   Here is a link to a list of companies that do not buy seeds from any of these companies.  I didn’t make the list so I can’t verify it but it looks like a good place to start.

Look for local seed exchanges.  Don’t buy your seeds at all!  Trade them with other gardeners in your area.  Here is an article with a lot of links to seed exchanges.

Start collecting your own seeds.  Cheapest, safest way, hands down.

Where do YOU buy your seeds?  Can you recommend any seed companies that grow and collect their own seeds or buy only from companies that have no ties to bio tech companies?

This post has been linked up to Natural Parenting Group Blog Hop, Patchwork Living Blog Hop,  Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways #16, Our Simple Farm link up, Living Well Blog Hop 31, Real Food Forager’s Fat Tuesday and  Hometead Barn Hop #51.

Plastic, Plastic Everywhere and None Of It Is Safe?

A recent study has come out indicating that not only are the plastics that contain BPA dangerous, but most plastics that do NOT contain BPA are just as dangerous, if not more so.  Emily Sohn states in an article from Discovery News:

It now looks like there are thousands of possible chemicals in all sorts of plastics that act just like BPA. Called endocrine disruptors, these chemicals falsely tell the body’s cells that the hormone estrogen is around, potentially causing all sorts of troubling developmental and reproductive consequences.

And not only are they potentially just as bad as BPA plastics, but they are, in some cases, worse. 

To be honest, I have been waiting for this study.  In order to remove the BPA from the product they need to replace it with “something else”, and the “something else” will be another chemical that is not as well researched as BPA.

What exactly is BPA? 

BPA is an organic compound used to make polycarbonate plastic. 

Wikipedia says:

Polycarbonate plastic, which is clear and nearly shatter-proof, is used to make a variety of common products including baby and water bottles, sports equipment, medical and dental devices, dental fillings and sealants, CDs and DVDs, household electronics, and eyeglass lenses.[5]

BPA is also used as a lining in almost all food and drink cans.  It is used in copy paper and thermal paper including store reciepts.  It is also used for lining water pipes. 

Lots of people are choosing BPA-free options for many of these items including baby bottles, drinking water bottles, and BPA-free cans.  Many companies producing plastic items are advertising them as BPA-free and Safe.  And they are selling.  But what are these plastics made from?  And are they, too, leaching chemicals into our food and beverages?

Because of its shape and size, BPA manages to fit into the receptors in our bodies that recognize estrogen, kind of like a counterfeit key fitting into a loose lock. Estrogen is a key hormone in the development of young bodies and reproductive systems, which is why the chemical has been banished from baby products in many places. But if BPA can fool estrogen receptors so easily, scientists have long suspected that many other chemicals probably do the same thing. – Discovery News

The study tested plastic food and beverage containers, plastic wrap, plastic bags and so on.  They were exposed to microwaves, boiling water, and UV light, which is typical of normal use.  More than 90% of the products leached estrogenic chemicals BEFORE being subjected to heat.  When stressed with heat, ALMOST ALL of them leached estrogenic chemicals, and some of them leached MORE than the BPA plastics did. 

It will be interesting to see the follow up studies that will come.  The lesson we can take from this is to make sure that the alternative we choose has been well-tested and proven safe before we make the switch.

What can we trust?  What can we do?

  • Stainless steel and glass containers do not leach. 
  • Choose glass baby bottles and silicone or rubber nipples over plastic.
  • Use stainless or glass water bottles instead of plastic. 
  • Store oil, liquid or food that will be heated in glass or stainless containers rather than plastic. 
  • Choose fresh food over canned food. 
  • Choose fresh water or juice over canned beverages. 
  • Wash your hands after handling receipt paper and before eating anything. 
  • Don’t let you children chew on plastic chew toys. 
  • Send your children to school with old stainless steel cutlery over plastic cutlery.
  • Don’t serve beverages in plastic cups. 
  • Recognise that disposable plastic is only a convenience and that there are lots of better solutions to disposable ware.    

Plastic is everywhere, and we can’t entirely eliminate it from our lives.  Choosing to eliminate it from your food storage will decrease your exposure dramatically.  Fresh food that has not been in contact with plastic is your best choice. 

There are many other reasons to cut back on plastic use.  Plastic leaves behind a huge carbon footprint when being created.  It uses up valuable natural resources.  It fills up our landfills and oceans, causing injury and death to wildlife.  And now we are learning it could be affecting our health in very negative ways. 

Let’s choose alternatives to plastic whenever possible.  These changes just might save our lives.

This post has been linked to The Prairie Homesteader’s Homestead Barn Hop #50, Whole New Mom’s Traditional Tuesdays Frugally Sustainable’s Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways, I Thought I Knew Mama’s Green and Natural Link Up, Common Sense Homesteading’s Living Well Blog Hop #30 and Real Food Forager’s Fat Tuesday.

You might also like:
Ways To Reduce BPA Levels In Our Diet

Healthy Honey Chia Granola Recipe

I am fed up with commercial breakfast cereals.   The standard “healthy” ones I grew up on like Shreddies and Cheerios contain preservatives and/or HFCS (High Fructose Corn Syrup).  The organic ones are still high in sugar, and many are wheat-free which means they are usually made of corn or rice.  Corn is a health nut’s junk food, and rice cereals don’t make me feel full.  The only other cold cereal option out there for me is granola.  I love granola.  The good stuff, made with natural, organic ingredients cost an arm and a leg to buy.  My local natural goods store offers locally-made granola for $9.99 or more for about 4 cups!

The last year or so I have been playing around with making my own granola.  It usually ends up a bit different each time since I don’t usually follow a recipe, but it is always good.  Using wholesome ingredients like organic large oat flakes or other whole grain flakes, flaked coconut, coconut oil, honey, hemp hearts, almonds and chia seeds, you really can’t go wrong.  Chia seeds are packed with calcium and omegas, and hemp hearts are loaded with protein and omegas.  This oatmeal is really and truly a meal in itself.   I finally took the step of writing down my recipe at the request of some readers.  So here it is!  A satisfying, lightly-sweetened, all natural, organic, whole grain granola recipe that is beyond easy to make!  I usually double the batch to last my family the week. 

Ingredients

6 c.      Large oat flakes (or other whole grain flakes)
1/2 c.   Coconut flakes
1/4 c.   Hemp hearts
1/4 c.   Slivered almonds (or whole)
1/8 c.   Sesame seeds
1/8 c.   Chia seeds
1/4 c.   Melted coconut oil
1/4 c.   Melted honey

1 c.      Raisins (optional)
1/2 c.   Dried Cranberries or other dried fruit (optional)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325F. 
  2. Add first 6 ingredients to an ungreased 8×12 baking dish.  Stir to combine.
  3. Drizzle oil and honey over the dry ingredients.  Use finger tips to combine.  Spread out evenly in baking dish.
  4. Toast in oven for about 45 minutes or until evenly, lightly browned, stirring frequently to prevent burning.  
  5. Remove from oven and cool on wire rack. 
  6. Mix in raisins and dried fruit. 
  7. Store in an air-tight container for several weeks and enjoy!

Options: 

  • Use maple syrup instead of honey for a flavour alternative.
  • Add 1 tsp. vanilla to honey and stir well to give a flavour alternative.
  • Leave out the raisins, nuts and dried fruit to be added when serving.
  • Add more honey if you want it sweeter!

This post has been linked to Natural Parenting Group Monday Blog Hop #8, Whole New Mom’s Traditional TuesdaysI Thought I Knew Mama’s Green and Natural Link Up, Our Simple Farm: Simple Living Linkup, Frugally Sustainable’s Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways Common Sense Homesteading’s Living Well Blog Hop #29 and Real Food Forager’s Fat Tuesday.

    Have You Lost Your Chemical-Conditioning? Make Your Own Cleaning Supplies.

    This past year has been a real learning experience for me.  I thought I was eco-friendly before, buying all-natural cleaning supplies, natural shampoos and deodorants… and now, a year later, here I MAKING my own products.  So if I was green then, what am I now?  Good question.  I’d like to say sustainable.

    For most of my life, if I ran out of dishwasher detergent, laundry soap, bathroom cleaner, deodorant, shampoo etc., life would go on hold until I ran to the store to buy some more.  It never crossed my mind that I should make it myself.  In fact, because of the chemicals used in most of these products, there is no way I COULD make them myself.  It wasn’t until I became aware of the dangers in those chemical-based products and started using all natural products, that I realised that these ingredients are actually ones I could get my hands on, and I could make myself. 

    Talk about enlightening!  Talk about liberating!  Talk about sustainable!  I don’t actually HAVE to run to the store as soon as I run out of something.  I can actually make it myself, and chances are, I will even have the ingredients in my own kitchen or laundry room already!  The clouds have cleared.  I see the light. 

    I have been cleaning for some time now with baking soda and vinegar-water.  They work perfectly.  They don’t kill every last bit of bacteria in the house but I am OK with that.  Bacteria isn’t always a bad thing.  But it did take me a while to let go of my 7th Generation cleaners and head to my cupboard for the baking soda.  Chemical conditioning, I call it. 

    For a few months now I have been washing my hair with baking soda-water and rinsing with apple cider vinegar-water.  Fantastic results.  Chemical-free, cheap, safe and available.  I had read about doing it for literally YEARS but I couldn’t put down the shampoo bottle.  Because I was chemically-conditioned to  that chemicals work better.  But they don’t.  My hair is shinier, healthier, and much less dry than it has ever been in my entire life. 

    Today I ran out of dishwasher detergent.  Today I looked up how to make my own.  Today I realised that I can easily make my own from ingredients I already have.  Salt.  Baking Soda.  Borax.  Vinegar. 

    Next I ran out of laundry detergent.  I looked that up too and have discovered how to make my own.  I did pick up a few ingredients for this one… washing soda (cheap!!!) and pure glycerin soap (also cheap!).   And tomorrow, when I wake up, I am making my own laundry detergent. 

    Up next will be deodorant.  I fell in love with an all-natural, baking soda-based locally-made deodorant that I picked up at a farmer’s market last summer.  It worked so well I bought some for my husband.  We put it to the test on hot summer days.  It worked perfectly for both of us.  No aluminium. No preservatives.  No color, or chemicals.  I could keep supporting the local supplier, but once I read the ingredients, I thought “I could make this!”  The ingredients are great and I already have them in my cupboards.  I can MAKE my own deodorant!

    I feel as though a whole new world has been opened up before me.  What an opportunity!  I don’t need the chemicals.  I don’t need the preservatives.  I don’t need the beauty isle at the store.  I can make my own from basic ingredients that most stores carry.  And I can feel good about using the products because I can actually pronounce the ingredients.  My family is safe from unknown, harmful chemicals.  No longer do I have to buy the all natural but expensive supplies.  I can make my own.  Have you lost your chemical-conditioning yet?  Come try it with me!

    This post has been linked to Common Sense Homesteading’s Living Well #27Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways #13Homesteading Trading Post Link Up and The Prairie Homestead’s Homestead Barnhop #48.