Monday, June 6, 2011

Organic Veggies vs. Non Organic

I recently started a new farmers market here in town with local wines, foods, plants and yummy baked goods. While there are so many people in the country that have heard of Polyface - there are a surprising amount of local people that have never heard of us! One gentleman in particular has been on my mind. He had never heard of Polyface and wanted to know if we were one of those "organic farms". He patiently listened as I explained to him about our farm and how and why we do the things we do but said he just had one question...."I once ate some vegetables that were organic and they didn't taste any different than regular so I don't know why people pay all that extra money for organic food?" I mustered up my best Joel Salatin voice and began to explain that the word "organic" refers to the way farmers grow and process agricultural products, such as fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy products and meat. Organic farming practices are designed to encourage soil and water conservation and reduce pollution. Farmers who grow organic produce and meat don't use conventional methods to fertilize, control weeds or prevent livestock disease. For example, rather than using chemical weedkillers, organic farmers may conduct sophisticated crop rotations and spread mulch or manure to keep weeds at bay. Long story short....by eating "organic" you're not putting all of the pesticides and chemicals in your body. You wouldn't spray your salad with a pesticide while it was on your plate - why would you eat a salad that had been sprayed before it had been harvested? While I know it's hard (and expensive!) here's a few tips to help you decide what foods should be bought organic and which ones you could skip the organic label and still be safe to consume...

If you're concerned about pesticides, choose your produce wisely. Domestically grown fruits and vegetables tend to have lower levels of pesticide residue than do the same imported foods. In addition, produce with thick skins or peels that aren't eaten, such as bananas, citrus fruits and onions, tends to pose less pesticide risk than does skinless or soft-skinned produce, such as strawberries, peaches and pears. You can also peel fruits and vegetables, but keep in mind that peeling generally means losing some fiber and nutrients.

Carrots growing at Polyface!!!
More reasons to shop your local farmers markets! You can talk directly to the grower to find out what was used to grow the produce and/or meats. They will also be more nutritious because they have come straight from the garden and most of the time have been harvested that same day instead of being ripened on trucks and then traveling thousands of miles to sit in the supermarket. And, in my opinion, local organic produce tastes better! Local growers can grow yummy, heirloom varieties that conventional farms cannot because they don't need them to be hearty enough to last for weeks in the stores!

5 comments:

Jean said...

Can you direct me to information on your new farmers market?

Thanks!
Jean

Scott said...

Another point people are familiar with it "hot house" tomatoes versus garden grown, I don't know of a single person that doesn't know the difference, or that would pick HH over garden grown, while they both look like tomatoes, there is a vast difference in the nutrient value, same as grocery store over organic grown.
But way to handle that type of comment, education is a key role in people getting back to growing their own and if not able to, then buying from local markets like yours.

Elizabeth Beller said...

What a lovely blog you have here! I enjoyed reading your post in organic gardening, and the photos are charming. Keep up the great work you are doing!

loidallen said...

I have had a farm market for 15 years and I always come up against this. I start with the fact that organic is best, then let them know that you come to me because you trust me. I also mention this, "a farm market is fresh, a chain store uses a central warehouse, so no matter organic or conventional, it sits in this warehouse for weeks, then you get to buy old stuff. People know the difference. Do not worry.

Ben said...

This is one of the subjects that divides the "Food Movement". While it is ultimately 100% true that organic food is better for the soil and for the human body, sometimes the cost can be prohibitive for those in lower income brackets. As a farmers' market manager for a market in a low income area, how can I convince the mother of three living in the housing project that the strawberries being sold at my market for 4.00 a pint are a better choice for her and her family than the ones she can get at the grocery store for 4.00 a pound? Faced with this economy, the merits of organic and IPM farming might not cut it for her to pay the extra money.

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