Thursday, May 31, 2007

How Organic Is Organic

Organic produce and lifestyle has been one of the big successes of the past ten years and has become a multi-billion pound industry. Even the major supermarkets are providing more and more food that claims to be organic and consumers are, increasingly, buying more and more.

Most people understand the basic concepts of organic food - raised on land free from chemicals and fertilisers, cattle and other livestock raised with a minimum, if not zero medicines and fodder raised organically.

It is said by those who are real advocates of this type of produce, that the food tastes better, is better for you as one's intake of chemicals is reduced and that by farming in an organic manner is environmentally friendly.

But hang on! Organic strawberries from Egypt, organic blueberries from Chile, Argentinian blackberries - all of this produce is air-freighted and is in the shops generally within 48 hours! How environmentally friendly is that!

Sure, I believe that organic is probably best, but I like to give equal weight to the distance it has had to travel. Our local market generally supplies food from the locality - most from a 30 mile radius. The carrots (shock, horror) still have the soil on them, moreover, they are not single straight tubers, but often knobbly and a combination of 2 or more tubers. But the taste! Wow.

Most of the food has been out of the ground, by the time I get to the market, no more than 6 or 7 hours, and for me, the taste is out of this world. Some of it is organic, most isn't, but the level of chemicals used in the locality is much reduced on other parts of the country where soils are less fertile. Moreover, food is seasonal again. If it is the wrong season, then it is unavailable in the market and that is good, as far as I'm concerned. The seasonality takes me right back to when I was a child and the local greengrocer only stocked local apart from some fruit such as citrus fruit. I believe that, more important than 100% organic is that food should be, as far as is reasonably practical, local. Let's cut food miles and support the local farmer and we might just get food worth eating.

1 comment:

sandegaye said...

I totally agree. Our little berg now has a 'Barn of Plenty' in town.. w/ the garden area right beside the barn. The taste is 100% better than that stuff one gets at Walmart!