From “Nutty” to Nouveau – What’s The Big Deal About Organic Produce?
Posted on April 9, 2014
Write-Up & Photos by Jacqueline Bennett newsandviewsjb.com
Organic farming has gone from “nutty” to noveau. For the rising numbers of American consumers concerned about the use of growth hormones and application of synthetic organic pesticides in conventional produce, and preservation of American farms, now is the time of year to shop for a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) organic farm to join.
“It’s not a movement – yet,” said one customer at the George Hall Farm in Connecticut’s Farmington Valley last summer.
But she predicted organic produce is the way of the future.
Like his fellow organic farmers, Darren Cugno, owner of Cugno’s Farm in Colchester, Connecticut is convinced that organic produce is not only better but that conventional fruits and vegetables can be downright evil.
“The biggest evil is genetically modified (produce),” Cugno said during an interview at the Colchester Farmer’s Market in July 2013.
Cugno maintains conventional produce does not have a nutrient level matching that of organic. And, he blames the dominance of conventional produce in the American diet as contributing to multiple health crises across the nation, including obesity, diabetes and autoimmune diseases. In fact, the motto of Cugno’s Farm is “Eat Real Food.”
Organic farming was originally thought of as “nutty” by mainstream consumers recalled George Hall. In the 1960s, Hall was among the first in the state to move to organic farming motivated by personal experience. During his youth Hall said he watched fresh fruits and vegetables help a family member recover from illness. In November of 2013, Hall was presented with an Education Leader Award at the State Capitol in Hartford as part of the Working Lands Alliance’s Annual Meeting.
IS ORGANIC PRODUCE REALLY SUCH A BIG DEAL?
The verdict is still out on whether or not organic food is more nutritious, according to an article by the Mayo Clinic (http//www.mayoclinic.com/health/organic-food/NU00255 ). The clinic cites fifty years of scientific articles that conclude “organically and conventionally produced foodstuffs are comparable in the nutrient content.” But they note research is ongoing.
What is certain is that the differences between conventional and organic farming are distinct.
The article lists key differences: conventional farming uses chemical fertilizers to promote plant growth ,synthetic insecticides to reduce pests and disease, synthetic herbicides to manage weeds and animals being given antibiotics, growth hormones and medications to prevent disease and spur growth; whereas organic farming utilizes natural fertilizers such as manure or compost, pesticides from natural sources like beneficial insects and birds, mating disruption or traps to cut down on pests and disease, environmentally-generated plant-killing compounds, rotation of crops, till, and mulch or hand weeding, as well, animals receive organic feed and are allowed outdoors, preventative steps to minimize disease include rotational grazing and clean housing.
An undeniably key advantage to organic produce purchased through CSA and at local farmer’s markets is freshness say the farmers. It is available to consumers when freshly picked and at peak nutritional value.
HOW DOES ORGANIC PRODUCE TASTE?
“Green” and “amazingly fresh” were a couple descriptions offered in both the Farmington Valley and at the Colchester Farmer’s Market.
One drawback to going organic continues to be the higher cost of organic fruits and vegetables. But Cugno and others say the investment is worth the long-term payback for one’s health.
Be prepared – don’t expect perfection when it comes to the appearance of organic produce. Some organic produce is even downright weird looking – for example, blue potatoes and mixed turnips/radishes.
Buying a share in Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) say proponents, not only provides weekly access to in season fresh produce but it is a way to help share with America’s regional farmers, the often weather related risks inherent in farming. Go to http://www.eatwellguide.org for information about finding a nearby CSA option, or to suggest a local farm to add to the guide.