Lisa Strump, Owner of Farm Fresh Carolinas, with Is Organic Produce Really Worth It?Feb 27, 2023 11:56AM ● By Lisa Strump
With the cost of produce increasing recently you may be asking yourself, “Is organic produce really worth the extra cost?” Let’s break it down as their may be some things you haven't considered before making your choice.
To start, what makes farming processes so different?
Here are just a few practices that are common in conventional farming, but are not allowed in organic farming:
- Artificial/synthetic fertilizers and nutrients added to the soil
- Sewage sludge as fertilizer (Yes, they really do this!)
- Synthetic herbicides for weed control (Think Glyphosate, aka Roundup. The most commonly used herbicide worldwide)
- Synthetic pesticides for pest control
- Use of Radiation to preserve food for disease and pest control (that’s right they irradiate your food!)
- Use of genetic technology to change the genetic make-up of the crops to help improve disease, pest resistance, and improve crop harvests (how they can spray roundup on entire crops so they can still survive this toxic chemical cocktail)
So, what does that mean for you?
The first thing that most people think about when choosing organic produce is to decrease the amount of synthetic pesticides, herbicides, and other synthetic chemicals that are used in farming conventional produce. Exposure to pesticides through consumption of contaminated produce can potentially have harmful effects including acute toxicity, weaken immune systems, endocrine disruption, chronic health effects including increased risk of cancer, reproductive problems, neurological disorders, and developmental problems. This is especially important for vulnerable populations such as children, pregnant women, and people with compromised immune systems. For most people this is reason enough to select organic produce, but there are some other key components to organic farming that we often don’t think about.
Organic practices prioritize soil health and biodiversity which is better for the environment in the long term. Conventional farming practices contribute to environmental degradation through soil erosion, water pollution, and loss of biodiversity. Additionally, conventional farming has shown to be detrimental to our bee populations through pesticides impairing their navigation, feeding, and reproductive abilities as well as habitat loss from over clearing and malnutrition from monoculture crops often found with this method of farming. Especially when choosing local produce we want to make sure we are choosing farming practices that are decreasing chemical exposures in our communities.
Have you ever seen a farmer spraying their crops? I’m talking full on hazmat suits! Exposure to pesticides and other chemicals used in conventional farming can pose serious health risks to farm workers and nearby residents. This can include acute and chronic health effects such as respiratory issues, cancer, and neurological disorders. By choosing to support organic farmers, you're choosing a healthier option for yourself, the farmer and their community as well.
The two most limiting factors when choosing organic produce are often cost and availability. With the notable recent increase in food costs, price is a factor for most people. Here are some helpful tips on saving money when purchasing fresh produce:
- Eating with the seasons helps you get the freshest produce while also the best price since you’re selecting that produce in peak harvest season.
- Look for community food co-ops, farmer’s markets, CSA’s (community shared agriculture), and produce box delivery services that offer organic offerings. There are services/locations that work primarily with organic offerings, and get much better pricing to offer a larger variety of in season organic selections.
- Lastly if you cannot afford to purchase or can’t find everything organic, look up the current dirty dozen for a current list of produce with the highest pesticide residual content.
As consumers we vote with our dollars. The more we can help support organic agriculture, the more farmers will be able to switch over to organic agriculture. Ultimately choosing organic produce not only helps our health and our communities, but can also help to continue to bring organic pricing lower.
Lisa Strump is the owner of Farm Fresh Carolinas, an organic produce delivery company. Through her own health journey, she has found the need to bring our community a variety of affordable organic produce to people’s doorsteps in the greater Charlotte area. She also enjoys working with local, small farm businesses to bring customers hand-crafted farm goods including: elderberry syrup, local honey, jams, jellies, relishes, fresh roasted coffees, premium loose teas, and other local farm favorites. You can learn more and sign up for delivery service at www.FarmFreshCarolinas.com, or shop at their store, Our Market at Farm Fresh Carolinas, located at 8161 Regent Pkwy, Ste 102 in Fort Mill, SC.
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