Everyone is talking about food these days. For those of us who garden and grow food, we share a tiny inkling of what local farmers do. If you are a connoisseur of the Squamish Farmers' Market, perhaps you have had a chance to talk to the person who grows your food. The more people understand how food is grown, and how to take advantage of food in season, the better.
Years ago, organic food was only available at health food and specialty stores, targeted to a select few who were leftovers from the Woodstock days. Today, organics are mainstream, big business, catch-all and the cat's meow. Even retail giants like Wal-Mart (in the United States), Costco, etc., are jumping aboard the organics bandwagon.
Organic agriculture is, in a nutshell, working with nature, growing food in ways that enhance the soil, and without chemicals or pesticides - learning from and working with nature, not trying to stamp it out.Biodiversity at its finest
Today's agriculture has detoured a long way from the original ideas of organic farming and relies on a very different set of principles.
Enormous mono-crops cancel out any chance at biodiversity, and have created ideal conditions for weeds and insects, which in turn need to be eradicated by toxic pesticides and chemicals. Gone are the days where every farmer had livestock, whose waste went back into the soil along with other farm compost. Today, synthetic and mined fertilizers (the creation of which tax the environment), have replaced soil building.
But we don't live in a perfect world. Does food have to be organic to be safe and environmentally healthy? It is a personal choice for sure, but a smart consumer can do their part by looking for food that is grown close to home. Some organic foods come from multinational companies and have been trucked across the country (again, bad for the environment).
Serena Strulovitch, professional dietitian: "There are health benefits to both buying locally grown food and organic food. Organic foods offer the health benefit of not having any pesticides. Locally grown food is normally picked [at a riper stage] since it does not need to go through the long shipping process, so it often contains higher levels of nutrients. Since buying organic foods often means that items travel far distances and this equals high oil dependency and pollution, there is a benefit to buying locally grown food."
Put growing a few veggies on your list of things to do next season. Get to know the people who grow your food and become an educated consumer. And don't forget to eat your veggies.