I was driving the other day when I saw a sign that advertised local produce as “almost organic” as better than the grocery store. I had to stop and think about that. What came to mind first, though, was the thought that there are probably many things about produce that people find confusing. Heck, I get confused from time to time with the way things are advertised. What should the healthy person look for in his or her produce? Is “almost” organic good enough?
When thinking of buying the best quality, organic produce, there are many things to think about. It’s not just about the actual vegetable that is produced. There are many considerations. Here are some questions to ask about your produce:
- Where did the seed come from? There are seeds that are produced from genetically modified plants (GMO) and there are seeds that come from organic plants. It is always better if a plant or vegetable gets its start from an organic seed. Right at the start of growth, the plant will have the more pure start if it is organic.
- What kind of soil was the seed grown in? There is rich, organic, fertile soil and there is rancid soil that is full of toxins. Where did your vegetable grow? Of course, we want good, organic, fertile soil because whatever the plant eats, you eat.
- What is the quality of the water used to water your plant or vegetable? Rain is a good source of water, of course, if that rains falls in non-polluted areas. Water full of sewage and toxins is going to grow a vegetable or plant that is also toxic. I want plants and vegetables that are watered naturally, if possible, in an area that is not highly polluted.
- What about the sunlight? Is it forced or natural? My choice is always plants grown in natural sunlight. Forced sunlight or man-made sun is not as good.
- Were there fertilizers used? Was the plant sprayed to kill bugs and insects? There are good, natural fertilizers (like manure from grass-fed animals) and then there are toxic fertilizers. How was your plant grown? While bugs and natural pests can kill crops, spraying them with poison is going to be filling your stomach with poison as well. I always choose the plants that were fed natural fertilizers and that were not sprayed with any toxins.
- How many people touch my produce before I eat it? My hope is one, maybe two people harvest and wash my food (again, in good, clean water.) In the typical grocery store, as many as 50 people may touch your vegetables before you eat them.
It might sound difficult to know how to begin to answer these questions but it is actually quite easy. I buy the bulk of my produce from a local farmer. He offers tours of his farm so that I can see where the seeds are planted. I can ask questions. I know who touches my vegetables. I know how the farmer nurtures his soil. I also know how he fights pests, if this is needed. And, I have a choice. If I don’t like the farmer’s answers, I can find a different farmer. I also grow my own vegetables. By doing this, I can completely control growing and harvesting from start to finish.
If I buy my vegetables in the grocery store, I don’t know the answers to any of these questions – unless my grocery store participates in selling locally grown produce – and again, I know the farmer. Luckily, I have local grocers who do this. It’s the next best thing to growing my own or shopping at the local farm.
So, is “almost organic” better? I’d have to see the farm and ask my questions. And, then ultimately, I decide what I put in my mouth or not.
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Photo “sad pumpkin” by Michelle Milla https://www.flickr.com/photos/michellemilla/4103190721
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