|Posted on December 1, 2010 at 5:55 PM|
Have you ever wondered what is required to become a Certified Organic Grower? And, why should you eat organic? It is not just to avoid unhealthy chemicals!
The following article was written by my mother, Lee Duncan. She and her husband, David Duncan, spent many years as certified organic growers of apples, as well as producing many other nuts, herbs, range free chickens, and vegetables. She has a degree in Agricultural Public Relations from Fresno State University.
“You Are What You Eat” was the name of a book by
Nutritionist, Adele Davis in the 1950s. She was
right! And the food you eat is as nutritious as the
soil it is grown in.
The Organic Farming movement is an attempt to
encourage farmers to use natural methods to grow our
food and to use less harmful chemicals in the soil
that grows our food.
When we grew organic apples for sale the organic
farmers’ certification group sent out inspectors each
year to verify that we didn’t spray with chemicals.
They did a physical inspection of our farm land,
and relied on our financial records to check what we
put into the soil.
For a food to be labeled “organic” it must be
certified by an organic group that it actually was
grown in an organic manner and not with harmful
chemicals. Organic matter added to the soil acts as
a buffer between soil microorganisms and the toxic
chemicals that some farmers put into their soil.
Plants will continue to grow in soil that is depleted
but the plant will lack nutrients. It is similar to
when a young child does not eat a nutritious diet but
only eats “junk food”. He will continue to grow. He
will also experience lots of health problems as he
Organic matter is central to the organic method. The
main point of composting, mulching and applying
animal and green manure is to build and maintain the
organic matter in soil. The microbiological activity
is vital to the soil’s health. Manure, compost, and
other organic matter are food for the soil
microorganisms which increases the numbers of
microorganisms and prevents disease. When beneficial
microflora are in the soil this prevents disease
organisms from growing.
When commercial agriculture applies chemicals to
control plant diseases the chemicals also kill the
good microorganisms. When workers spray chemicals on
fields they wear protective clothing. These
chemicals are also harmful to the soil. Organic
methods encourage good soil microorganisms and
prevent the bad ones from growing.
Today most of our food is raised on large farms.
Most farmers take care of their land. After all, it
is their largest asset. But in an effort to produce
as much as possible for the least amount of money,
some farmers take shortcuts by using harmful chemicals.
Soil is the loose top layer of the earth’s surface
which supplies plants with nutrients and minerals and
which serves as a medium for the roots to develop.
It is composed of several different components.
Organic matter, minerals, and other solid materials
form a base for the soil. Water and air fill the
gaps between the soil solids. Minerals in the soil
vary. The size of the mineral particles is very
important. This affects the ability of the soil to
absorb water, etc.
Sand, silt and clay make up the texture of the soil.
Texture of soil can be determined by taking a pinch
of soil between your fingers and rubbing your fingers
together. Sandy soil feels gritty. Silt is powdery.
Clay is hard when dry, slippery when wet and rubbery
when moist. Clay and humus are the storehouse of
Organic matter contributes to the formation of good
soil structure and good structure is essential for
Traditionally many farmers worked a piece of ground
until it was worn out and unproductive then moved
onto other fertile land. Today that is not possible.
Most farmers are practicing methods to improve their
soil. This includes building up the amount of
organic matter in the soil.
Gardeners and farmers can have their soil tested
annually and fertilize in accordance or they can heap
on the mulch and compost without testing and not find
deficiencies. Most of the time it is easier to add
mulch and compost than to purchase and apply chemicals.
Plants need at least sixteen chemical elements from
the soil. Deficient soils lack one or more of these
elements. Poor plant growth is a sign of deficient soil.
It is important for consumers to read the labels and
to buy locally when possible. Try to find out where
the fresh produce and fish comes from. In the recent
past there have been problems with produce from
China, Mexico, and some South American countries.
They use lots of chemicals. Most fish are grown in
disease infested fish ponds and can be harmful. The
fish from the wild is probably still safe.
In grocery stores, shop in the outer isles and skip
the precooked and premixed food in the center of the
stores. Read labels. If you can’t understand what
is in the food, don’t buy it. It is probably not
good for you.
There are some government regulations on food grown
in the U. S. There is not much regulations on food
coming from foreign countries.
It is always safer to buy locally. It will also be
fresher. In California we are able to buy directly
from farms from roadside stands and in most cities
there is a Farmer’s Market.
• Buy locally.
• Buy organic when possible.
• Grow your own food if you can.
• Shop the outside isles in grocery stores.
• Read labels.
• Eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables and not too
much meats or sweets.
• Don’t drink soft drinks. Instead drink lots of water.
• Do some exercise every day.
• Have a healthy mental attitude.
Categories: Foods To Eat/Nutrition Articles