Sunday, June 27, 2010
I'd like to think that Old MacDonald had, not just any farm, but an organic farm. At least I know Old Farmer Richard at Harmony Valley Farm in Viroqua, Wisconsin does. And he not only keeps chickens and cows like the farmer we grew up singing about, but he also has goats, pigs, zucchini, peas, and strawberries too! What's the big hype with organic farming anyway? Well, I'll tell you. There are many benefits to eating organic. Let me count the ways...
1. Organically grown food has a higher nutritional value because it uses and fosters the life of the soil.
2. And because it's grown in this balanced soil, organic food is able to resist most diseases and pests.
3. Because of the natural growing process, the cellular structure has been preserved which results in food that keeps longer.
4. Organically grown plants are more drought resistent.
5. Higher quality produce equals higher sugar content which means tastier fruits and vegetables.
6. Organic farming produces less greenhouse gas emissions.
7. Pesticide/fungicide/herbicide-free food makes for healthier people. After all, you are what you eat.
8. Organic farmers do not use soluable fertilizers on their crops (which are those nasty chemicals that get washed into the groundwater which then becomes unfit for drinking). Soluable fertilizers are pollutants that are harmful in many other ways too, affecting everything from our oceans to reproductive problems in humans.
Now I'm sure I've freaked you out enough to never want to eat a big box grocery store tomato ever again. Let's be realistic though. Eating all organic is expensive and almost impossible for the average family to afford what is considered a "luxury" item these days. Have no fear though, organic farming is becoming more and more popular and having access to these foods is increasing every day. If you're serious about eating better but can't justify the added expense here's some other ways to go about getting your hands on organic food in a more affordable way:
1. Start your own garden at home. Even if you live in an apartment, anyone can grow a variety of crops in a patio garden.
2. Consider renting space in a community garden. Plot too big? Split your area with a friend, relative or co-worker.
3. Barter at your local farmers market.
4. Use coupons when buying brands that make natural foods. Companies such as Amys Kitchen, Annie's Naturals, Stonyfield Farm, Kashi, Muir Glen, and Cascadian Farm.
5. Join a CSA. Still too expensive? Split the CSA with another family.
The key is to start out small. Buy organic when you can and, even more importantly, buy local!
(Photos all taken at Harmony Valley Farm during their Strawberry Days)