The fact is that organic foods are not better for you, the environment or your economy.
Scientific American has a really great researched, informative and cited article busting the myths that the organic industry thrust down our throats. Organic foods are not necessarily safer, they are not better for your body, they are not better for the economy and they are not better for the environment.Even more than this, we need to wake up and realize that the organic industry is just another big business and it's growing like a Miracle Grow fed weed! Anytime big business is involved, consumers need to be wary. Just like any other big business, they are influencing people with their media campaigns. Although it's frequently too expensive for most people, the majority of people believe that organic foods are safer, better for their health and better for the environment. As the Scientific American article, and many more like it show, that's simply not the case.
Processed Is Processed
So many of those same people who are so proud to be buying organic foods are actually filling their carts with processed foods and I gotta tell you that eating organic Oreos is not any better than the regular ones.
Ok, ok... everyone's thinking about their health and there are plenty of people who aren't buying snack foods- but what about other processed foods- do you really believe that organic mac and cheese is really better than Kraft? And I'm not even talking about whether pasta or cheese are good for you. I'm suggesting that the sodium levels, calories and other nutritional info between the two are pretty much the same! Take a look at Earth's Best French Toast Sticks and Aunt Jemima's French Toast - the serving size is double on Aunt Jemima's, but when you double the numbers on the Earth's Best version, its very similar!I'm already concerned about the chemicals and other grossness that are in our food, in processed foods I need to worry about the additives and preservatives as well. Like phosphate. And absorbic acid. Just because these and other ingredients are organic does not make them better for you.
I know that the cost of organic food is a non-issue for some people. They're willing to pay more to purchase what they believe is the best choice. Even if organics were better, that's just not the case for my family. We have to really consider where each and every food dollar is going. It's not enough to "vote with my dollars" when organic food is usually double, and sometimes as much as triple the price of conventional foods. At our Farmer's Market, the costs are out of control. Nearly every seller there is organic and there is no competition to keep prices down.
Speaking of cost- do you know how much it costs for a farm to become certified organic? The cost averages $750 a year including application fees, site inspection fees and annual renewal costs. It's often a lot more than that too! While that may be a drop in the bucket for the giant organic corporations, it's a lot harder for a smaller farm to swallow! No wonder the costs of organics are out of control!
So what do we do about it? Now that I've dashed all your dreams of keeping your family, your body, your economy and the environment healthy- what can you do?
I know you've probably heard that a lot lately and it seems like it should be so simple. Except that Farmer's Markets and Local Grocery stores are soooo expensive. And local grocery stores aren't necessarily local. Even Walmart's "local produce" isn't really as great as it sounds!
So here's what you do. Find a local farm. Here in Eugene, we have this awesome publication called Willamette Farm & Food Coalition which has a Directory of many of the local farms and a listing of their practices and what they sell. Maybe you have something similar in your community! If not, check the newspaper. Give the farm a ring. Ask what their practices are and don't judge them based on certifications or lack of certifications! They may be completely sustainable or using organic practices, but unable to afford the certification process. They may be transitional- an even more important reason to support their efforts! Go out to the farm- the cost of a little drive and you can purchase from a farm stand, or even pick your own- can't get fresher than that!Cook From Scratch.
With a crock pot and a breadmaker, even the busiest person can cook all their meals from scratch. It does take a little research to find the recipes that work for you- but you would be so surprised at the crazy things that can be cooked in a crock pot! You can even bake your bread in it!
A Glimmer of Hope For Organics....
Is there not anything good about organic farming? In this article, I am mainly talking about organic foods grown or manufactured by large industrial companies. I can't see anything good about these products.
But in your local community, you can probably find a LOCAL organic farm that gets its compost from another LOCAL farm - or even better- produces its own! I'm not against organic farming- I practice it on my own backyard farm. I am against using our environmental resources to create a food that is not nutritionally, environmentally or economically better. I'm against big organic business using media campaigns to make people feel good about a choice that isn't necessarily better. I'm against those same companies and even small farms that price organic food so much higher so that ordinary people cannot afford it. And I'm against a government that charges so much that small farms are unable to become certified.
Don't choose organic just because it's organic. Support your local farmer and be really damn proud when you do!Sources: Poll: Majority See Organic Food As Safer, Tastier, Better for Environment, Healthier, More Expensive
The dirty dozen and clean 15 of produce
Mythbusting 101: Organic Farming > Conventional Agriculture
Whole Food Blues: Why Organic Agriculture May Not Be So Sustainable">Whole Food Blues: Why Organic Agriculture May Not Be So Sustainable">
Organic Food Not Nutritionally Better Than Conventionally-Produced Food, Review Of Literature Shows
Some Pesticides Permitted in Organic Gardening
REGULATIONS OF THE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
The Organic Myth
Farmer's Market seems to be the obvious choice, but I find it to be incredibly overwhelming. The prices are out of control and the place is always just swarming with people. There is so much going on, it's really hard to fin the best deal. It's a great service that they accept Food Stamps, but then you're carrying around all those wooden $1 coins, which are a pain to pay with and did you know the sellers are not allowed to give you change for them? That can be a real waste of money!
Most grocery stores don't sell local produce, or it's priced outrageously too. There are a couple local CSAs that accept food stamps as well, you can read about them at Willamette Farm & Food Coalition, but you don't get to choose what you want and there's no u-pick option. For me, I personally don't agree with most CSA models. There is a solution!
We've found that our best choice for getting local fruits and veggies and supporting local farmers is to find a farmstand that we can go to weekly. It's not overwhelming, the choices of what are in season are right in front of you and the prices are generally lower, since you drove out to them. Many also offer u-picking opportunities which is a great learning experience for the kids and lowers the price even more!
Here are some local farms that do take the EBT food card out at their farm stand. I am listing their names, addresses, website and phone number, but please call or check out their website for days and hours as those may change throughout the season.
These are not certified organic, but they do use organic and/or byodynamic and sustainable farming methods. Contact each farm directly or check out the WFFC database for more information.
30946 Wyatt Drive, Harrisburg, OR
91455 River Road Junction City OR 97448
88088 Millican Road, Springfield , OR 97478
Lone Pine Farms
541 688 4389
91909 River Rd Junction City, OR 97448
Also, this farm stand I will check back with at the end of July- they said in the next month or so they hoped to be accepting EBT cards:
River Bend Farm & Pleasant Hill Orchard
35027 Fremont Avenue, Eugene, OR 97405
Do you know of a farmstand that accepts EBT in the Eugene/Springfield area? Are you a farm that does accept food stamps at your farmstand? I'll list you up above- just shoot me an email at chrissy AT herbngrowth DOT com
In our society today, we are trained to recognize that we need or want something and then to head right out to the nearest big box store to pick up one that will most likely fall apart. There are some great groups out there that are trying to bring back the fun and community building that is swapping. I even started a facebook group for bartering locally to me. It's really taken off.
This page is a listing of the things that I can make and do or have available for trading. And a listing of things that I am willing to trade for. I will trade via mail if you have something that I really want.
I have or can make:
- cloth toys from my/your fabric and my/your pattern
- children's clothing from your fabric (my pattern or your pattern)
- adult clothing from your fabric and pattern
- cloth diapers from your fabric (my pattern or your pattern)
- produce from my garden- right now I have: :( nothing yet)
- jams, jellies and fruit butters that I make too much of. - right now I have cranberry orange marmalade and some plum, pear and apple butters
- canned goods that I preserve too much of - right now I have canned plums with or without rosemary and canned pears with or without cinnamon.
- homemade artisan bread (need 48 hours notice)
- all sorts of homely home-baked goods- need a yummy whole foods cake? brownies? granola? muffins- blueberry or zucchini! just ask!!
- frozen preserved foods- right now I have sweet corn (so good!), dehydrated bell peppers and cooked garbanzo beans, cooked black beans
- herbal preparations - right now I have some witch hazel tincture (mix with a little water and use on owies and burns), dried peppermint leaves
- homemade recycled candles (will get pic up soon- they're really cool)
I am looking for:
- an adult working bicycle- I would love to work out a long-term trade for this- maybe bread once or twice a week for a few months? A share of my canning and preserving this year?
- food grade 5 gallon buckets with or without lids
- a wooden door in door frame
- an old multi-paned window
- storage jars- even old pickle jars! quart and a half or larger
- yummy produce or home-baked/made/grown foods- bread, veggies, fruit, canned/frozen.... variety is the spice of life!
- canning jars/lids in all sizes
- medicinal and cooking herbs- to pick, already dried or plants!
- wood for wood stove
- random other wood to burn or build with....
- random building supplies?
- homemade soaps
- wooden and cloth/ knitted/crocheted toys and things for 7+ aged girl and a toddler
- kids clothing - any season 7+ girl, 2T+ boy
- nice fabrics - cotton wovens or knits, good quality
Above all, I believe in moderation. Making your food from scratch and buying local, fresh ingredients makes for delicious and healthy meals. Spending quality time with ones friends, family and community away from a television or computer screen can add great fulfillment to your life. That doesn’t mean you’re a bad person if you want to devour a bag of Cheetos while you go on a 4 hour WOW raid. It doesn’t mean that you’re deeply flawed if you go out to buy the latest, shiny new gadget.I don’t want any reader of this blog to feel guilty. I want people to be inspired. Because no matter what your passion is, no matter what you love to do I believe there is room to do something that will let you eat a little better or become a little more connected to the people around you. I don’t want anyone to go out and try to everything we talk about on this blog. However, I sincerely hope that everyone that joins us her at Herb N Growth finds something that rings true, something inspiring that make the life they love even better.