France and Italy pioneered organic farming and small scale agriculture. The taste of their produce is the best . The French and Italians have no second thoughts about paying the price for these delicacies. Emilia Romagna, a small province in Bologna, Italy, grow the finest and tastiest produce surpassing the quality of French produce, and the world. These vegetables are grown in the alluvial plains where the soil is naturally fertile .
Italy and France started farmers market long before the United States conceived the idea. They eat what is in season and utilized locally grown produce. In France foreign produce can be seen sold in produce markets, usually imported from countries where they had previous political influence, a good example is the abundance of Vietnamese produce , both fruits and vegetables. Except for the fruits, the France people have strong affinity to there own vegetables and doubt that the foreign produce influenced there set cuisine.
One of the reason that prompt americans to go organic is the green revolution. It is all about saving the planet . The second most important reason is the safety of produce . A growing number of serious health food advocates have stopped buying produce sprayed with pesticide or chemicals for fear of the cancer forming residue. This concern gave rise to commercial organic farming and widespread increase of health food stores touting the virtues of organically grown produce and selling them 5-6 times more that the cost of non organic produce. In 2007 Harris pool stated that 30% of americans buy organic food occassionally, there reason is, organic produce is safer and better for your health.
Organic is big and getting bigger. In 2006 , the sale of organic food in the US totaled to 16.7 billion (Figure from Organic Trade Association). Overall amount does not specify how much was spent in organic produce. This amount is less than 3% of the overall sales of food and beverage. In 2009, the 1st Lady, Michele Obama began digging a portion of the South lawn of the White house to plant an organic vegetable garden. Concern about childhood obesity and rise in the number of diabetics is a national concern.
Farmers who practice sustainable farming can only operate in small scale basis since the requirements of USDA (United Sates Department of Agriculture ) for growing organic produce is strict and specific . The farmers argue that when you buy organic , you do not buy a product, you buy a way of life that is committed to not exploiting the planet ( by Ed Maltby, Executive Director of North East Organic Dairy Producers Alliance).
If you want to use organic produce, here is a guideline for you to use.
When the label indicates that the product is all natural, free range, or hormone free, it is not organic. It is only describing how the produce or product is raised or grown.
Organic food should have the following labels or USDA Seal
100% organic (USDA guidelines for growing and or raising a produce is followed 100%)
Organic 95% means there is a slight variance that was not meet
70% or less organic means only 70 % or less of the ingredients is organic and 30% is not.
Organic farmers do not use pesticide or insecticides to banish the insects or pest but use alternative methods ,such as growing plants that will entice beneficial insects and birds to visit there site and then feast on the pest that cause havoc to there produce.Instead of chemical fertilizers, they use compost and crop rotation and mulching or hand weeding. Organic farmers whose annual income from the sale of organic produce is $5,000 or less are exempt from getting a certificate but must follow all of the USDA guidelines. You will encounter this if you go to farmers market where organic backyard farmers sell their excess produce for a nominal cost. It is also a place where you can find rare fruits and vegetables from other countries that are grown locally sans the pesticide.
Goverment research continue to find better ways of protecting the environment and the consumers. Although the use of acceptable pesticide continues , they are now use increasingly in combination with non-chemical control practices, a farm management system known as IPM (Integrated Pest Management). The goal is to use all possible technology to keep pest population below economic injury. Pesticides are only used when there is a demonstrated need. Sample method is breeding,crop rotation,biological control and use of a bug vac- a type of vacuum cleaner that inhales the pest and spares the plants. Through research they found out that increasing the sugar content of fruits will repel white flies .
While organic produce are free from synthetic chemicals, one should be aware that the plants produce their own natural toxicants and organism, which are sometimes more harmful than the established acceptable chemical residue. Individuals who choose to eat organically grown produce should be informed that organic foods are not necessarily free from pesticide residues. Contaminations from wind drifts, soil shifts and ground water are factors that can affect the process of growing organically grown produce. In addition, animal and plant waste presents a special problem in the treatment of compost , especially when animal manure is added.
Of particular concern with our fast growing world is the increasing use of imported produce. Seasons are defiled. Fruits and vegetables that are not in season in the US are available year round coming from Chile,Panama, South East Asia and other countries that gained permit to sell there produce to the US market. The growing regulation is not the same as the US and the the process of inspecting the imported produce entering the US is at random. Not every piece of produce is tested for pesticide
Finally there is no evidence that organically grown produce is superior in quality ,safety or nutrient content as compared to the conventionally grown produce. Inspite of reassuring statements from the governmental agencies responsible for the public protection of our food supply. For this reason, it is important that we become more sensitive to our changing environment, and take more responsibility for ourselves. Some sensible protective measures is to eat a variety of vegetables. This practice helps minimize the exposure to any one pesticide. Eat what is in season, off seasonal produce are imports and maybe subjected to less rigorous pesticide surveillance plan.
Irregardless of the source of your produce, it is a good practice to wash and store your vegetables in your refrigerator crisper to ensure freshness and to prevent nutrient loss. Deep green vegetables and citrus contains Vitamin C, a heat labile vitamin that is destroyed by prolong exposure to light and air. The practice of hoarding fresh vegetables when on sale is not advisable. Properly stored fresh fruits and vegetables must be consumed within a week.
Some chemicals breakdown naturally after harvest and are diminished by washing,peeling and cooking. While some people worry about the potential danger of pesticide residue, others are non cha lant about it. Often, I see people in the produce section of a supermarket,sneaking and sampling unwashed produced without guilt!