They’re coming! They’re coming! Lock the doors and windows! Get out the guns and ammo! They’re coming for our seeds!
Mike (who occasionally monitors the Glenn Beck radio show) put me on to a commercial by one of Beck’s sponsors, Survival Seeds. Apparently, “global elites” are storing rare non-hybrid seeds above the Arctic Circle in preparation for a coming catastrophe. The ad urges listeners to invest in a kit that will provide bushels of “nutrient-rich food for you and your family.” The final bit warns us that in a financial cataclysm, seeds will be the ultimate bartering item. (listen to the ad, narrated by conspiracy theorist Alex Jones at this site)
And on the company’s web site:
You don’t have to be an Old Testament prophet to see what’s going on all around us. A belligerent lower class demanding handouts. A rapidly diminishing middle class crippled by police state bureaucracy. An aloof, ruling elite that has introduced us to an emerging totalitarianism which seeks control over every aspect of our lives.
All right. Before we dish it too hard on Mr. Beck and his sponsor, let’s remember there’s plenty of paranoia on both the right and the left when it comes to seeds. For the Left, it’s the fear of greedy corporate giants patenting their genetically modified seed, then promoting monoculture to crowd out standard varieties until just a few companies control the world’s food supply. Bwa-ha-ha.
So let’s take a look at Survival Seeds and its claims.
1.Global Elites have set up a secure doomsday vault of seeds in the arctic, in the event of a catastrophe. Clearly this is a Robert Ludlumesque, apocalyptic, sci-fi fantasy…Whoa! It’s true! If by “global elites” they mean scientists concerned about the effects of war and climate change.
In fact, there is a world seed vault, celebrating its one-year anniversary, in Norway (wait, isn’t that the country of the Nobel Peace Prize? Ooh–ee–ooh.) Here’s what Seed Savers Exchange, a promoter of open-pollinated and heirloom seeds in Decorah, Iowa, says on its web site about the Svalbard Seed Vault in Norway:
Located at 78 degrees north, far above mainland Norway, three vault rooms have been fashioned inside a mountain, down a 125-yard tunnel chiseled out of solid stone. Naturally cold already, the Seed Vault is further cooled to below -2 degrees Fahrenheit. At this temperature, seeds can be stored safely for decades-even if the earth warms or the power goes out. The Seed Vault has the capacity to store 4.5 million different seed samples (each sample containing about 500 seeds) potentially from 1,400 gene banks in more than 100 countries. The Seed Vault will soon house and secure the world’s largest collection of seeds, including many varieties no longer grown by farmers or gardeners.
The article goes on to assure us that even the large corporate donors will not have access to these seeds. Phew.
It turns out the so-called “doomsday vault” in Norway is not the only one. There are many seed vaults throughout the world–some secure and others, not so much. I also found an item on Denver Post.com about a seed depository there that’s 50 years old. According to that story, plant scientists believe global warming could wipe out 40 percent of the world’s crops. (When? When?) Now that’s scary.
2.In an emergency, seeds have outperformed silver and gold on the market and it may happen again. Sorry, but I could find absolutely no source for this. Is there really a seed trading floor somewhere? The best I could find was a small item from 2006 about mustard seed investments.
3. Open-pollinated seeds (the non-hybrid types that produce seeds you can save yourself) are hard to find. The Survival Seeds web site says it’s seed is grown in remote locations by “fiercely independent farmers.”
“If you don’t have the ability to grow your own food next year, your life may be in danger,” the site says.
Calm down, everybody. Look through about any garden catalog today and you’ll find a good selection of heirlooms and standard seed varieties. In fact, heirlooms and open-pollinated seeds have been offered for years. You can easily find just about anything you’ll ever want at Seed Savers Exchange, which has been around since 1975. If you join and follow the correct procedures for saving seed, you, too, can become a “fiercely independent farmer.”
4.The special preparation and packaging by Survival Seed will keep seeds viable for decades.
I’m still trying to find an expert opinion on this. Most seeds will keep for a couple of years, then the germination rate starts to drop. Survival Seeds claims their seeds are specially dried to just the right level, then packed in foil with a special (and expensive) desiccant to keep the moisture level just right. They also come in a watertight container you could bury, but if you freeze the seeds it will add to the shelf life, the company says.
Well, both the Norway and the Denver vaults keep the seeds right around 0 degrees Farenheit, so there must be something to the freezing, anyway.
According to Survival Seeds, $149 will buy you enough seeds (remember, they use an expensive desiccant) to plant a one-acre “crisis garden.” (Question: Isn’t every garden a crisis garden? Ours usually are, anyway.)
Here’s Survival’s idea of what you should have on hand to plant as your world comes crashing down:
Shell beans, green beans, peas, peppers, corn (sweet and field variety), carrots, melon, cucumber, lettuce, cabbage, onion, tomato, chard, banana squash, spinach and eggplant.
What, no wheat? No medicinal herbs?
The selection, if you look through it, is a bit strange. Sweet corn and field corn (field corn? Really?) take up huge amounts of garden space for not much return, as do the peas and shell beans. And I don’t think my end-of-the world cucumber choice would be the white kind. Eww. Just the idea of white pickles in jars on the shelf, like fingers in formaldehyde…
I’d have to have some potatoes (which don’t come as seed, but can be saved as eyes or, in the case of sweet potatoes, slips) and some butternut squash, which gives a lot of vegetable for the buck. And Moon and Stars watermelon. And hops. Definitely, if the world is ending, you’ll want hops.
Okay. Maybe I’m being too picky. But the point is this: If anyone is really worried about the end of the world enough to stockpile seeds, he’d do better to just go to a catalog, put together his own seed bank and pack it in zipper bags in the freezer. And for goodness sake, don’t trust that the market will increase its value. We’ve all seen how that works out.
If you have that acre of ground, just start gardening and saving the seed year to year. And by the way, if you need a gardening book on how to do that…
Posted by: Roxie
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