There’s been a shift over the past few years toward eating organically. If youíre not already on that bandwagon, you may be wondering what itís all about. The logic that many of us follow is that we didnít eat organically growing up, so why make the switch now? What has changed? We survived eating processed foods…
The goal of growing the biggest and best has led the bulk of the industry to do things that weren’t done 30-40 years ago. Currently, billions of pounds of chemicals are sprayed in the United States alone every single year. Recent studies have shown how several of these chemicals, like Glyphosate (active ingredient in Monsanto’s RoundUp Herbicide), are detrimental to human health. Monsanto’s RoundUp claims to be one of the safest pesticides on the commercial market.
“Children today are sicker than they were a generation ago. From childhood cancers to autism, birth defects and asthma, a wide range of childhood diseases and disorders are on the rise.” As The Environmental Magazine reports, PANNA’s assessment of the latest science “leaves little room for doubt; pesticides are one key driver of this sobering trend.” October 2012 report by Pesticide Action Network North America (PANNA)
The fight against using pesticides has been one ongoing for many years. Over 45 years ago Joni Mitchell released her song “Big Yellow Taxi”. One of the verses that has stuck with me was “Hey farmer farmer, put away that DDT now. Give me spots on my apples, but leave me the birds and the bees. Please!”
DDT (dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane) has been around since the late 1800’s but it wasn’t until 1939 that chemist Paul Müller discovered it was suitable as an insecticide. It was used in WWII to control malaria and typhus among both the troops and the civilians. After the war it was used as an agricultural pesticide until being banned in the US in 1972 following studies that claim to have showed it caused cancer, and the push from the public to ban it. Müller was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine “for his discovery of the high efficiency of DDT as a contact poison against several arthropods” in 1948.
Unlike back in 1970, we now have the option to buy organic. But what exactly does that mean?
The USDA National Organic Program (NOP) defines organic as follows:
“Organic food is produced by farmers who emphasize the use of renewable resources and the conservation of soil and water to enhance environmental quality for future generations. Organic meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products come from animals that are given no antibiotics or growth hormones. Organic food is produced without using most conventional pesticides; fertilizers made with synthetic ingredients or sewage sludge; bioengineering; or ionizing radiation. Before a product can be labeled “organic,” a Government-approved certifier inspects the farm where the food is grown to make sure the farmer is following all the rules necessary to meet USDA organic standards. Companies that handle or process organic food before it gets to your local supermarket or restaurant must be certified, too.”
The USDA has identified for three categories of labeling organic products:
– 100% Organic: Made with 100% organic ingredients
– Organic: Made with at least 95% organic ingredients
– Made With Organic Ingredients: Made with a minimum of 70% organic ingredients with strict restrictions on the remaining 30% including no GMOs (genetically modified organisms)
– Products with less than 70% organic ingredients may list organically produced ingredients on the side panel of the package, but may not make any organic claims on the front of the package.
Why does organic food tend to cost more? It doesnít in all cases, but there are some things to consider when opting to buy organic.
– Organic farmers don’t receive federal subsidies like conventional farmers do. Therefore, the price of organic food reflects the true cost of growing.
– The price of conventional food does not reflect the cost of environmental cleanups that we pay for through our tax dollars.
– Organic farming is more labor and management intensive.
– Organic farms are usually smaller than conventional farms and so do not benefit from the economies of scale that larger growers get.
There are other benefits to eating organic that go beyond the food. Consider all the pesticides that run off the fruits and veggies into the ground. Once in the ground, they enter the water table. You also have insects that live in the ground that cause no harm to the crop, yet they are collateral damage. This brings up the point that we are again messing with nature, and affecting the food chain. Fewer insects creates fewer foods for the “higher life form” that feeds on the insects, or perhaps ingests the pesticides themselves. There are entire books that have been written on the subject, but you get the idea.
So is it all worth it? That depends on the individual. There is no question that organic food contains fewer chemicals and less chemistry than conventional food. Some claim that organic food tastes much better than sprayed or modified foods. That’s opinion. There are also claims that organic food is more nutritional than conventional. That hasn’t really been proven either. Saying that it may not be more nutritious, is not the same as saying it’s not healthier.
All of the grocery stores in Holly Springs offer organically grown foods. Organic advocates are especially excited about the announcement of The Fresh Market coming to Holly Springs. The Fresh Market (www.thefreshmarket.com) has an emphasis on fresh and organic foods.
Just this year, Holly Springs approved allowing residents to keep up to three backyard hens as long as they have a permit, but there are some other rules before you rush out to buy your hens.
1) One coop and one pen per residential lot shall be required to house chickens on a lot. No more than one coop and one pen shall be allowed on any lot.
2) The coop and pen shall be located so that it is entirely behind the rear lot line of the primary structure (ie, house) on the property, and is a minimum of 12 feet from the side and rear property line.
3) Hens may be kept only for non commercial purposes. Eggs, chickens, or any byproduct thereof shall not be sold.
4) Hens shall at all times be enclosed within a pen to prevent their elopement and to prevent rodents or predators from coming into contact with the hens. Hens shall be enclosed in a coop during non daylight hours. Pens, coops, and any other structure shall be approved by the Department pursuant to the Unified Development Ordinance.
5) The landowner is solely responsible to ensure that standing water, liquid, or feces does not accumulate in the area of the pen and that no drainage or run-off meets any property line, stream, drainage area, easement, pipe, swell, dissipater, or any stormwater or wastewater control mechanism.
6) Refuse from the hens shall be removed daily or more often if required to prevent run off or offensive odors.
7) Hens kept for fighting purposes are illegal and the owner will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
It’s a move in the right direction for Holly Springs for those that are ready to get back to “living off the land”.
One Holly Springs family took it to the next level when they moved to Cass Holt Rd. in order to build their own farm. With virtually no farming experience, they have now turned a passion into a business. Julie Davidson explained to us what caused her to make the move.
“Today it’s nearly impossible to avoid pesticides, unwanted chemicals and antibiotics, but we can grow our own using compost and natural methods and we can teach our children and other children how to grow organically too. Show them that sometimes it’s difficult to grow a carrot, or peach, and that they don’t look as perfect as the ones in the stores. With that in mind, we started our family adventure. We sold our home to start a farm to grow our own fruits and vegetables, to make goat milk soap and goat ice cream, to treat our animals humanely and feed our chickens organically so their eggs would be rich and chemical free. We hope to inspire others, especially children, in hopes that they can change tomorrow and learn how to grow and take care of their food sources so that the planet and all its inhabitants can get back to a more natural balance.”
How are they going to inspire others? It’s simple. They have turned their farm into a business to teach kids. Changing Tomorrow Farm is now open for track-out camp, kids night out and even before and after school.
We welcome Julie and her husband Jeff to the new business community of Holly Springs. Their mission to educate kids about growing their own food, and raising animals is led by their deep passion to make a difference in the world the best way they know how.