Betty Says: WTF, Monsanto?

Planted in recycled Peet's iced tea cups.

I have a very distinct childhood memory. I was in third grade, or thereabouts, and we had to bring food seeds from home: root vegetables that had sprouted, or seeds from a fruit, like an orange. I planted a lemon seed, and was so deeply proud of it as I brought it home in its little Dixie cup planter with my name scrawled on the side. Of course, lemon trees would never grow in Philadelphia, but that didn’t matter because I’d forgotten about it within days and it died on my kitchen windowsill.

The point? The seeds and sprouts grew.

A few months ago, the Tiny Kitchen Assistant wanted to do something similar for the school’s science fair. We planted what we had in the house: avocado pits (one planted in dirt, one perched in water); a blueberry; a tomato; butternut squash seeds; and lemon seeds. About a week later, we were excited to see that the blueberry had sprouted. (We were less excited to realize that the “blueberry” was actually a weed contaminating the potting soil. Darn.)

The "blueberry." A month later, it was no bigger.

As for the rest of the harvest… nada. Zero. Zilch.

Everyone who’s heard this story says the same thing: “Oh, yeah, seeds aren’t supposed to grow anymore.”

This, of course, makes the Tiny Kitchen Assistant indignant. “What do you mean, they’re not supposed to grow? They’re seeds! That’s all they do!”

Yeah, well… it’s not that simple anymore. I tried to explain how seeds have been genetically engineered to expire so that farmers have to buy more seeds each year, rather than just reusing the ones from past seasons. “But that’s ridiculous!” he said. “Seeds grow plants, and plants make more seeds to grow more plants. Nobody should go mucking around with that.”

After two months, I finally decided to toss the little plant greenhouses that I’d set up on the windowsill, but before I threw them in the garbage, I decided to dig down and see if anything was going on beneath the surface. Nothing.

Cucumbers on the left, wild and crazy pea plants on the right, 12 days after planting.

We did buy some actual seeds to sprout at home, and they’ve been growing beautifully. We’re going to have a bumper crop of peas, cucumbers and tomatoes. He’s excited that the “special seeds” (store bought) have that magical ability to grow, but he still talks about his “sad seeds” that never grew properly.

What a lesson to learn at a young age.

Now… please send recipes for fresh peas. We’ll soon be eating them three meals a day.

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