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Understanding the Differences of Heirloom, Organic, Hybrid & GMO Produce

While taking a stroll through your local market, deciding which types of produce are healthiest for your family can be daunting. Those little stickers on fruits and vegetables may tell you a little bit about where your produce comes from, but the seeds that were used to grow it make a difference in the nutrition you’re getting. That’s why it’s so important to understand how your produce was grown and the differences among heirloom, organic, hybrid, and GMO varieties.

What Are Heirloom Plants?

Heirloom plants come from seeds that are passed down by farmers from one generation to the next. Many farmers pass successful seeds down to their children and farm workers to maintain consistency in the farm’s yields. You’ll commonly hear the term “heirloom” in reference to tomatoes.

Photo credit: Annie Seikonia via Flickr

Photo credit: Annie Seikonia via Flickr

Here are the top things to remember about heirloom plants:

  • Not genetically modified in any way
  • Maintain the same traits from year to year
  • Open-pollinated by insects (not through human intervention)
  • Typically grown from pre-WWII era seeds that are at least 50 years old
  • Heirloom produce is most often found at health food stores

What Are Organic Plants?

When a plant is labeled organic it means that it adheres to organic standards that guarantee that it has not been genetically modified or been exposed to any chemicals. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has set certified organic standards that must be met and labeled as such.

Remember these facts about organic plants next time you’re shopping for produce:

  • No usage of pesticides, herbicides, or any types of chemicals in the agricultural process
  • Look for certified organic labels on produce
  • Organic plants can potentially be hybrid plants
  • Organic plants can be grown from heirloom or conventional seeds that were never exposed to chemicals

What Are Hybrid Plants?

Farmers create hybrid plants when they cross-pollinate two plants within the same species to produce desirable offspring. They might do this to yield crops that have an ideal shape, texture, flavor, or disease resistance properties.

Here are some things to keep in mind about hybrids:

  • Farmers control the pollination process
  • Hybrids are not necessarily GMO-free
  • It can take farmers many years to create a successful hybrid plant
  • Hybrid produce is what you commonly find at American supermarkets

What Are GMO Plants?

And finally, we come to our least favorite type of plants, the GMOs. Genetically modified plants were created not just to be resistant to high levels of pesticide application, but also contain pesticides that have been encoded into their DNA. When farmers use pesticides and herbicides and rely on chemical processes to genetically manipulate their crops, this involves putting foreign ingredients into plants that don’t exist in nature.

Photo credit: jetsandzeppelins via Flickr

Photo credit: jetsandzeppelins via Flickr

According to the Institute for Responsible Technology, the risks of consuming GMO foods include a resistance to antibiotics, increase in allergic reactions, liver problems, and reproductive problems. Meanwhile, environmental risks of GMOs include gene transfer to non-target species, uncontrolled biological pollution, and a stronger resistance to pest management strategies.

Farming at Seagate

At Seagate, we take great pride in our growing and processing techniques because we grow and harvest these raw material from our own farming and fishing operations. All of our fruit and vegetable concentrates are 100% pure and contain no fillers or chemicals. They are non-GMO and also pesticide and chemical-free.

To produce our Lycopene-15 Capsules, for example, we carefully select our seeds to ensure that our Roma tomatoes have not been genetically modified. We also use our own fish fertilizer to grow these tomatoes, which are free from all pesticides and chemicals.

We also grow broccoli for our Broccoli Sprouts Capsules in a greenhouse along a remote river valley near our factory. Broccoli farming is extremely labor-intensive, requiring the transplanting of each individual seedling by hand to our farm after the initial month of growth in our greenhouse. We use well water for irrigation and our natural fish fertilizer concentrate as the only soil additive.

So regardless of which type of produce you choose, where you buy it from, or whether you get it from food or supplements, we highly recommend steering clear of all GMO produce for the sake of your health.

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