28 February 2013

Stanford University Study

After reading the editor’s article from a recently published issue of The Columbia Insider regarding organic vs. conventional foods, I decided to research the recent study published by Stanford University last September which reported that there are no significant differences in nutrition between organically and conventionally raised produce.  This has been a very heated topic as I see and hear from many of my patrons at the local farmers’ markets what their beliefs are.  Some consumers are open minded and willing to learn the differences and what each farmers’ growing practices are while others only care about organic food and will not even entertain what a "non-organic" or conventional farmer has to say.  One customer last fall shouted at me that the Stanford study had been refuted and quickly walked away without letting me speak.  She must have read the article atThe Huffington Post.   I could dissect both articles, but that is beyond the scope of this commentary today.
I think that one of the widest misconceptions is that organic farmers use no fertilizers, pesticides or sprays of any kind, and I also think that many consumers feel that if it is more expensive, the quality must be higher.  Both of those ideas are just that; misconceptions.  There is a “National List” of materials that are acceptable to use for all farmers and this list does include organic farming allowances.  All farmers face many challenges.  It really is a labor of love.  The biggest point in the article I wrote back in 2011 is that it is important for all consumers to be educated and know where their food comes from.   Consumers should get to know their local farmers by attending farmers’ markets and local food festivals whenever possible. 
Running Creek Farm’s produce is not organic.  We are, however, very careful about how we farm as we live off the land ourselves.  My husband has thrown salesmen off our farm because they insisted we use systemic pesticides or GMO (genetically modified) seed, which we absolutely refuse to do.  We take good care of our water sources, farmland and crops.  We rotate our crops, plant cover crops, use organic matter, cultivate the soil and add elements as needed for proper nutrition.  A healthy plant not only provides better nutritional content for the consumer, but also remains more resistant to disease and pests and provides a higher yield.  Occasionally we do have to spray crops, but it is kept to a minimum and we use only topical (non-systemic) products that photo-degrade as they dry.  This means that the plant cannot take the material up through the root system and send it out into the fruit or leaves.  We are also very careful not to spray when the honeybees are active as they play a huge role in the pollination of many of our crops. 
So farming is a symbiotic relationship of nature’s creatures, and we have to nurture that relationship.  Go ahead and read all the articles I’ve referred to, then draw your own conclusions after getting to know your local farmers. 
As for the many challenges farmers face, I think this video sums it up well.  You may remember it as a Super Bowl commercial, but Paul Harvey originally wrote this for the Future Farmers of America back in 1978. “So God Made a Farmer“ . 

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