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Chef Stacy believes that cooking from scratch and using the best ingredients are the secrets to preparing delicious and memorable meals. She has created dozens of classes for the home chef and teaches students how to master culinary techniques and recipes in just one session. Read on to see what she's dishing up for The Oakland Press today....

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Organics

It’s no longer uncommon to hear the phrase “farm to table” or “farm to plate”, which refers largely to local foods. Organics, on the other hand, are a much bigger business.

The word "organic" refers to the way farmers grow fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy products and meat, as well as other crops like cotton. Organic farming practices are designed to encourage soil and water conservation and reduce pollution. Farmers who grow organic produce and meat don't use conventional methods to fertilize, control weeds or prevent livestock disease.

Growing organic isn’t as easy as just casting the chemicals aside. Farmers who wish to grow organics must go through a lengthy years-long and expensive process to rid the soil of any chemicals that may have been in the soil from previous use or exposure before growing anything that can be considered as “organic”. Because of this, organics cost more to grow than their conventional counterparts. Also, there is more loss per crop because organics do not have the protection against pests and spoilage that conventionally grown products do.

Organics are regulated by the USDA, and are easy to spot with a voluntary
“certified organic” seal. These standards regulate how such foods are grown, handled and processed. Any farmer or food manufacturer who labels and sells a product as organic must be USDA certified as meeting these standards. The only exception to this is producers who sell less than $5,000 a year in organic foods are exempt from this certification.

There is much debate as to whether or not organic foods are healthier and safer for us to eat. Many people suggest that the pesticides and other chemicals used in conventional farming practices are toxic to our bodies as well as the planet. Others say that only certain fruits and vegetables are adversely affected by conventional farming practices and that other foods are perfectly safe and nutritious when grown conventionally.

Production volume is another thing cynics of organics site when weighing the pros and cons of organic vs. conventional products. Since there are billions of people to feed, some argue that an organic farm system couldn’t produce enough food to feed the planet. By contrast, foods grown conventionally are much more available and productive in terms of yield.

The environment is also a consideration that many advocates of organics reference when making their argument in support of chemical free farming. Since organics are grown without the use of harsh chemicals, there is no “run off” of the chemicals into our lakes, rivers, etc.

Whether it be the environment, food supply, or health concerns, many people see the value of buying and consuming organic products either exclusively or a combination of conventionally produced and organic items. As you can see, food can be a very substantial political and emotional issue for many people, and we’ve just scratched the surface. Our next post will discuss the local food movement. Until then, whether conventional or organic, if it’s not food – don’t eat it!

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1 Comments:

Blogger fran said...

I personally prefer organic foods simply because if there is a chance of the chemicals being harmful why even take the chance of putting them in your body. If you set aside the health debate over organic vs conventional foods one thing is for certain the faster you get it from the garden to your table the better the taste will be. This is a good reason to buy locally. As for the food shortage I don't find it as widespread as the conventional media reports. Having traveled in various countries around the world I find that everyone grows something even in the cities and this is what we need to stress in the USA. This is why I teach people to cook of my website http://www.painlesscooking.com/how-to-cook-everything.html Cooking your own food takes you one step closer to your food source.

April 25, 2010 at 8:48 AM 

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