Thyroid disease and ADHD have been linked to pesticides used on fruits and vegetables that are grown and sold to the public, as well as to water that is used in field irrigation. For these reasons, organics are becoming more popular due to their limited use of pesticides. Some organic foods have been grown without any, but the buyer must still beware. Local farmers markets have become the go-to for healthy foods.
When growing food in one’s own garden, controls are up to the individual. Beneficial insects, companion planting, and spraying with insecticidal soaps can render a safer crop. Farmers however must sometimes use pesticides to get their crops to market profitably. Organic farmers rarely if ever use them, but can still be certified as ‘Organic’ if they adhere to government approved chemicals / methods that are considered ‘safe’. Note that ‘Certified Organic’ does not necessarily mean no chemicals were used to protect the produce from pests.
A recent comment on Chowhound.com mentioned that, ‘the local Delmarva farmers . . . use little to no agricultural inputs. . . [but] they don’t get organic certification. . . . [and] Amish farmers rarely if ever use a thing (pesticides) but are rarely certified.’ Reasons given were the expense of certification and having to ‘deal’ with the government. Granted, it’s one person’s opinion, but there is some truth to it. Many farmers that sell at farmers markets are small operations. They don’t have extra outlays of capital to pay additional inspection fees or utilize different methods in order for the government to issue an Organic Certification.
Those farmers who have taken the steps to become certified find that it becomes more expensive to produce the healthier foods, so must mark up the prices at the stands. It seems to be a catch 22 for the public: health vs. lower costs.
Farmers markets in the Baltimore region do provide a place to purchase local foods, and not worry about imported foods with unknown or unrestricted chemicals. These markets also give the purchaser a chance to personally ask questions of the grower to determine whether the growing methods comply with their personal health needs and desires. Yes, expense can still be more than your local grocery, but in dealing directly, there is less mark up and you get fresher foods.
Lynne Ferguson of of Ferguson Family Farm says the public has adopted a ‘higher emphasis on nutrition. It’s not just local anymore.’
Lynne hopes that the upcoming legislation (Food Safety Modernization Act) will help the local smaller farms instead of hinder them. The propsed amendments will help to clarify and distinguish the smaller farms from the larger commercial grade operations. Getting healthy food to your table will not make the business of growing healthier foods more of a business hardship to the farmer who truly believes in organics. It can become a win : win situation for your family’s health. See the link to contact your representatives to take action supporting the amendments.
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