The Kitazawa Seed Company

An Empowering Alternative to GMO Crops

The Kitazawa Seed Company was founded in 1917 by Gijiu Kitazawa. Kitazawa is the “oldest seed company in America specializing in Asian vegetable seeds.” [1] Before starting this business, Kitazawa worked at a seed company in Japan. When Kitazawa began his company, in 1917, there was very little agricultural diversity as “America’s vegetables reflected a homogenous national palate.” [2]Therefore, at that time, his business was very unique as he sold a variety of Asian vegetable seeds. These seeds were culturally valuable because they allowed people to make traditional Japanese meals in America. Currently, the Kitazawa Seed Company offers “over 500 seed varieties that produce dento yasai or traditional heirloom vegetables.” [3]

This company communicates and ships orders online. However, their seeds can also be found in some stores such as the Berkeley Bowl and the Tokyo Fish Market. Kitazawa’s seeds are also sold at Pollinate Farm & Garden, which is a store that sells gardening supplies. Pollinate also offers classes to teach participants gardening techniques. Also, these seeds can occasionally be bought at public venues. For example, the Kitazawa Seed Company participated in the National Heirloom Exposition this year from September 8th to the 10th.

Unlike the African American Museum & Library at Oakland, which provides seeds for free, individuals must buy seeds from the Kitazawa Seed Company. However, with this added cost comes the guarantee that all their seeds are non-GMO. This choice stems from their economic and environmental philosophy. They claim that because GMO crops “have been insufficiently tested prior to public release,” they “pose . . . great biological risks as well as economic, political, and cultural threats.” [4] As such, this company is significant, especially to young people and parents of small children, because it gives the public increased access to non-GMO seeds and plants. This access is important because it can be difficult to find seeds that are not genetically modified in an average grocery store or nursery. Also, because Kitazawa specializes in Asian vegetable seeds, customers can select from a diverse array of seeds that may be difficult to otherwise acquire. Further, Kitazawa’s website provides a global level of access as they ship to many different countries. In that way, the Kitazawa Seed Company is valuable because it highlights the importance of using consumption as a political act. In buying Kitazawa’s seeds, one can opt-out of the pervasive and pernicious GMO market.

Cite this Page:

Zenzele Olatunji , “The Kitazawa Seed Company,” Street Stories: Oakland, accessed December 14, 2017, http://streetstoriesoakland.com/items/show/25.
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