“There is a sucker born every minute” was supposedly the credo of P.T. Barnum, the flamboyant 1800s showman (though most mainstream reference sources say he never said it).

Gullibility seems to have no expiration date, and 200 years post-Barnum one can only shake one’s head at the myriad of ways people in this supposedly enlightened age are separated from their money.

But even in today’s Internet subculture of paranoia and mistrust of all things establishment, one wonders about the companies peddling “Survival Seeds” via cable TV channels and the Internet.

“More valuable than silver or gold in a real meltdown…” proclaims one outfit of its selection of seeds that will enable the astute buyer to “grow all the survival food you will ever need anywhere in the country … with hard-to-find, open-pollinated super seeds, grown by small, fiercely independent farmers.”

These are not just any seeds, mind you, but “hand-picked, non-hybrid” seeds “grown in remote plots, far from the prying eyes of the big hybrid seed companies,” seeds that “are not genetically modified in any way” — you can “simply save some of your harvest seeds” for planting the next year, which “you just can’t do with man-made hybrid seeds.”

The seeds, 22 different varieties ranging from beans to corn to cabbage to melons, peppers, onions, and tomatoes, are packaged in “special foil packets with a very expensive desiccant designed to keep them fresh for 20 years” and then “placed in a special waterproof, practically indestructible container we call a Seed Bank.”

All this will plant one full acre of food crops, the company says (they don’t explain how millions of urban dwellers, who would be expected to be the most adversely affected, will find the requisite acre). And because they’re “trying to get the word out before the food crisis becomes too apparent to the general public and there is a run on these seed banks,” you can get the “first dibs” discounted price of only $149, “but only until we run out.”

For the general public, “the price will be a fat $297.00 — no discounts, even to FEMA or military personnel. Take it or leave it.” (Uhhh, if they sell to early privileged buyers at $149 until they run out, where do they get more to sell for $297.00?)

Oh, but wait, if you act now, they’ll magnanimously toss in a bottle of Nitro Seed Starter Solution that will “allow you to jump-start your crop” and make the “seeds grow like crazy,” along with detailed instructions on how to harvest seeds for the following year.

And as an added clincher, the “indestructible Survival Seed Bank can be buried to avoid confiscation.”

There are any number of companies offering various types of survival seed packages, ranging in price from $49.95 to the more common $149 (plus shipping/handling, of course). There is even a Web site that ranks the various offers.

email: hbrandon@farmpress.com