Facts, no Fear on Agriculture

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We hear a lot in the media about GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms) vs. non-GMO. Hy-Vee dietitian Hailey Boudreau provides some facts about the differences:

What is the difference between GMOs, hybrid and heirloom plants and seeds?

Genetically modified organisms, or genetically modified seeds, are created using genetic engineering, such as gene splicing, to break natural boundaries in order to produce new species that could not be made by nature. It is believed these new species have a variety of desired traits not found in nature, such as agents to fight against bugs/pest and environmental factors.

Hybridization is used to create hybrid plants and seeds by manually fertilizing the flower of one plant with the pollen of another plant/species. This process creates a hybrid plant that is a cross between each of the parent plants. It is hoped the new plant will have positive attributes such as disease resistance, size, color, taste, etc. from each of the parent plants.

Heirloom seeds and plants are grown from seeds passed down for generations and have been naturally pollinated from insects/animals or environmental influences. There are no modifications or alterations to these seeds.

What are some examples of each of these products?

GMOs: There are nine commercially available GMO crops grown in the United States: sweet and field corn, canola, cotton, alfalfa, sugar beets, summer squash, papaya and potatoes. It is important to note that these crops are available as ingredients in many foods you find in the grocery store.

Hybrids: Hybrid plants can make an old plant/food more appealing. Seedless watermelons and purple cauliflower are hybrids, for example. Other examples of new hybrid plants are pluots, a cross between a plum and an apricot, and the golden Dewlicious melon.

Heirlooms: These plants are grown from seeds handed down from year to year and from generation to generation – for example, saving the seeds of the tomatoes grown in your garden and replanting them the following year. To be a true heirloom plant, seeds and plants must only have been pollinated and grown by nature without human intervention; this includes having been grown without synthetics or chemicals in the garden.

There is currently no marking on packaging to indicate what type of plants were used to produce products found in the grocery store.

Is there room for all three of these types of plants/seeds in my life?

Currently, society has made room for GMOs, hybrids and heirloom plants. GMO plants have the potential to produce higher yield crops and can be used to grow plants in undesirable conditions. Hybrid plants create more variety in the grocery store and at home. And heirloom plants are often highly valued, so when you grow the biggest and best pumpkin at the state fair, don’t let anyone steal those seeds! No matter which seeds/plants you choose to grow and consume, be thankful for the diverse and delicious food found in the Midwest – and don’t forget to thank a local farmer!

Cucumber Melon Salad with Citrus Mint Vinaigrette

Serves 6.

All you need:

1 tbsp Hy-Vee orange juice

1 tbsp Hy-Vee white wine vinegar

1 tsp Hy-Vee Dijon mustard

1 tsp Hy-Vee honey

¼ cup Hy-Vee vegetable oil

1 tbsp mint, finely chopped

¼ medium cantaloupe, seeded

¼ medium golden honeydew melon, seeded

½ medium English cucumber, thinly sliced

1 small zucchini, thinly sliced lengthwise

½ medium shallot, thinly sliced

All you do:

1. Prepare Citrus Mint Vinaigrette by whisking together orange juice, white wine vinegar, Dijon mustard and honey in a large bowl. Whisking constantly, drizzle in vegetable oil. Stir in mint. (Makes about 1/3 cup vinaigrette).

2. Cut rind off cantaloupe and honeydew melon quarters and cut into long, thin slices. Combine the melon, cucumber, zucchini and shallot in a large bowl. Toss with dressing to taste.

Source: Hy-Vee Balance

The information is not intended as medical advice. Please consult a medical professional for individual advice.