I've received three seed catalogues this past week, and I'll name names:
Johnny's Selected Seeds
(I think I've only received three b/c, although I ordered from several companies in 2008, I saved a lot of seed and didn't order too much in 2009.)
1) Johnny's has an easy-to-find statement, boxed and headlined on the lower right-hand corner of page 1, called "The Safe Seed Pledge":
"Johnny's Selected Seeds is proud to be a member of the Safe Seed Initiative. We pledge that we do not knowingly buy or sell genetically engineered or modified seeds or plants. For the full text of the pledge and our opinions on biotechnology, visit Johnnyseeds.com "
Page 114 of Johnny's catalogue provides a Glossary of terms, including Heirloom, Hybrid, and Open-Pollinated. On the right-hand side of the page is a list from A (Anthracnose) to ZMV (Zucchini Mosaic Virus) of Vegetable Disease Codes. These Codes are found in the seed offerings; various varieties of veggies are susceptible or resistant to different diseases, and Johnny's will tell you which is which.
I think this is all good stuff.
2) Baker Creek doesn't have the boxed-in Safe Seed Pledge, but inside both the front and back covers are encouragement for customers to become active in pure food/seed advocacy. The term "Frankenfoods" is thrown about liberally.
Example from page opposite inside front cover: "About Our Seeds."
"All of our seed is non-hybrid, non-GMO, non-treated and non-patented.
We do not buy seed from Monsanto-owned Seminis. We boycott all gene-altering companies. We are not
members of the pro-GMO American Seed Trade Organization!" etc.
Baker Creek saved Connecticut's Comstock, Ferre & Co. from annihilation in 2010 and will celebrate Comstock, Ferre's BICENTENNIAL of selling seeds later in 2011 in Wethersfield, CT.
No glossary, but the rareseeds.com website has tons of information for the confused new gardener re. hybrid/heirloom.
3) Unfortunately, the recent Burpee catalogues have shown me that longevity alone (Burpee's est. 1876) doesn't mean integrity or clarity of mission. Unless that mission is simply to make money in the short term.
There is no help for the new gardener anywhere in the Burpee catalogue as to the differences between hybrid, heirloom, heritage, organic, or open-pollinated varieties, or even what these mean in a general sense. The beginner will look in vain for any assistance.
Even the two pages dedicated to "organic" seeds (page 82) and "organic" plants (page 83) give no hint of why organic seeds/plants might be meaningful to gardeners. The only "information" on pp. 82 and 83 is "Certified Organic by Oregon Tilth (seeds) and "Pennsylvania Certified Organic" (plants). And--yes--on p. 83 there's an offer of organic plants for the...
...Heirloom Tomato, Burpee's Big BoyÃ‚Â® Hyb. 3 plants @ $13.95
This is not eschewing obfuscation; this is inviting it.
Well, at least my decision-making--in case I can't find what I want near my house--has been simplified for me by *one* catalogue vendor!
Sunset Zone 17, USDA Zone 9