With food prices rising, the dollar falling, and the economy reeling, it is becoming increasing important that we learn how to grow a portion of our own food. The first steps are obtaining and sprouting seeds, so we'll explore those topics here.
Enzymes Are Your Friends
It may seem hard to believe, but life forms on Earth are constantly submerged in two of the most corrosive substances in the Universe: Oxygen and H2O. Seen at the microscopic level, we are dissolving like an antacid tablet in water . What keeps us alive in this highly solvent medium? It turns out that the enzymes in raw food offset the damage we sustain, reversing the aging process. A rare disease called Progeria, Hutchinson Gilford causes extreme premature aging due to lack of enzyme activity. New studies at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences link autism to reduced enzyme activity.
Though we all eventually succumb to the ravages of time and oxidation, we can slow the process by consuming living foods that are rich in enzymes . Fresh, raw foods like sprouts are among those foods containing the most enzymes, but for the healthiest and freshest sprouts it is best to grow them yourself.
Sprouting Sunflower Seeds
Most of us have tried sunflower seeds , but it's likely they were no longer alive. The ones we had were probably already shelled, dried, roasted, irradiated, salted, preserved, bagged, shipped, and stored for long periods of time, by which point every last enzyme had perished. Wouldn't it make sense to consume living seeds ? Real seeds will lay dormant for many years or until activated by moisture.
After sprouting, most edible seeds such as Alfalfa, Broccoli and Radish are left in the sun for a couple of days to produce Chlorophyll (a process called Greening or Photosynthesis). Sunflower seeds are ready to eat once they sprout so they are a great first choice for sprouting. Along with containing nearly every vitamin, fresh sprouts actually produce minerals not present in the original seed through a process called transmutation, so they are an extremely cost effective form of nutrition. (Instructions for sunflower sprouts are provided at end of this article).
After learning to grow sprouts you may try growing sunflower greens, whole sunflowers or other vegetables. It is important to understand the main types of seeds:
* Heirloom seeds (also called Heritage seeds) will reproduce the same every generation. Most of us assume all seeds are like this.
* Hybrid seeds are the product of two unique plants and the seeds will gradually revert to the dominant parent over subsequent generations. While providing more variety, these seeds must be purchased again each season to obtain the same crop.
* Genetically Modified ( GMO ) seeds are patented and require a license fee and a contract to use certain pesticides. Some GMO crops are designed to produce sterile (terminator gene technology) seeds. GMO seeds mix both plant and animal matter in ways that nature never intended. Recent studies showed that GMO crops have 10% lower yields.
GMO companies like Monsanto are part of the pesticide industry and they have been aggressively buying up seed companies for the past 20 years. Corporations prefer fruits and vegetables that are picked before ripening and have tougher skin in order to survive shipping. However if given a choice, consumers prefer fruit with more delicate skin and flavor. Farmers of generations past dedicated their entire lives to producing seeds for plants that would grow well in their local area, only to have them go extinct due to commercial interests.
"Fair Trade" alliances such as CAFTA and Codex Alimentarius seek to irradiate, patent and/or genetically modify all seeds. The new Iraqi Constitution only permits farmers to plant Monsanto GMO seeds. Canada's ridiculous C-51 legislation seeks to regulate all seeds and plants as "prescribed foods" which would effectively ban seed saving. However, seeds should be regarded as treasures and seed diversification is essential if we are to withstand food viruses such as the one that caused the Great Potato Famine in Ireland in the 1840s.
Stock up on Heirloom seeds while you still can!
Recipe for Sunflower Sprouts
* Sprouting Jar.
* Screen Lid (or cheese cloth and rubber band).
* Sprouting Sunflower seeds (food grade).
* Filtered Water (I prefer distilled).
* Fill jar about half-way with sunflower seeds.
* Add enough water to cover seeds.
* Soak seeds 1-2 hours and drain.
* Turn jar upside down and rest at an angle inside a soup pot to allow excess water to drain.
* Keep seeds in moist, dark area at room temperature 2-3 days.
* Rinse and drain seeds once each day.
* Sunflower sprouts do not grow large and are ready to eat nearly right away.
* The sprout will be about 2-3 times the size of the seed.
* To remove hull, hold the seed with one hand and tug the sprout with the other.
* Store in refrigerator and consume within 2-3 days.
The Seed Exchange Garden Seed Inventory is a catalog of catalogs offering virtually every available Heirloom seed in the U.S. Seed to Seed, Seed saving and Growing Techniques for Vegetable Gardeners by Suzanne Ashworth is the companion book. An informative DVD documenting the dangers of GMO foods is The Future of Food. Help stop C-51 at www.stopc51.com .
About the author
Neil McLaughlin is a Computer Scientist and Inventor specializing in 3D Graphics and Simulation.