Monday, March 9, 2009

It gets too complicated

When Googled:
Organically grown - "Results 1 - 10 of about 1,270,000"
Environmentally friendly -"Results 1 - 10 of about 1,270,000"
Fresh and local - "Results 1 - 10 of about 110,000,000"
Certified natural - "Results 1 - 10 of about 12,000,000"

Have you been able to decipher all the different certifications yet? Good for you! I've not, even after attending a two hour presentation that was supposed to enlighten and educate. I used to think the main difference, and most important one, had to do with the non use of chemicals. But when you dig further into what's defined as "chemical," things get a little foggy.

I suppose there's really no simple method of determining whether or not your lettuce was rinsed with clean water, or whether that apple you just bit into was sprayed with some type of chemical pesticide or fungicide (it probably was), or what that cow or pig ate just before it was slaughtered and used in the hamburger we had for supper the other evenin and the bacon we ate with our pancakes Sunday mornin.

The ONLY sure method I know of is if you grow it and/or process it yourself. Can you know your local farmer well enough to have confidence that they're using safe and healthy production methods? Is the peer review system some farmers abide by based on accuracy and unbiased inspections?

After the presentation, I told one of the panelists, whose farm was USDA Certified Organic, that I was just as confused about all the different certifications as I was before I sat down. Here's what he said: "So am I."

When we're at the table, can we slow down enough to take a closer look at what's on the end of that fork, where it came from, and how it got there? Sometimes I wonder whether there's a sure method of doin that.

Spring in Kentucky

13 comments:

flowrgirl1 said...

It is really confusing! I still havent quite figured it out either. Your right though. Grow it yourself and you will know exactly whats going on. Thanks for the post!

go Red Buds!

tina said...

Organic is complicated. I like to grow my own food so I know where it came from and the fact it is the freshest! Spring arrived yet? It is here!

Weeping Sore said...

TC, I'm reading a book that I'm finding very helpful in addressing the questions you mention about "organic" and "natural" and other loaded terms. Check out "The Truth about Organic Gardening: benefits, drawbacks and the bottom line" by Jeff Gillman. I'm not crazy about his literary style, but he debunks a few of my personal myths and does a good job of summarizing the state of current research and hort. thinking.

Dave said...

Beautiful redbuds! The whole organic thing does seem overly complicated. To simplify I just think to do everything as naturally as possible. After all Mother Nature knows best!

Terri said...

Very confusing. Like you, I think it's best to grow your own, and if you're going to buy, try to buy locally!

Sayward Rebhal said...

Interesting stuff, and scary too! Some day I'll be able to grow all my own - I can't wait I can't wait I can't wait . . .

I like the new design. =)

Susie said...

I wish I could grow everything I eat. Sometimes I look at the end of that fork and think do I really want to know where that bite of food came from and what was done to it in the process.

Kylee said...

Yay! Redbuds!!!!

TC said...

Flowrgirl1: You're welcome. And thanks for yours too. Now, lets get in the garden! (Actually, it's still way to muddy here.)

Ms. Tina: Does your state's MG program require y'all to talk about IPM when giving lectures or community talks?

WS: I've read about that book on Joe Lamp'l's blog and may pick up a copy. I also mentioned the book on a local organic gardening forum but they weren't too keen on it.

Dave: I have two redbuds I got from The Arbor Day Foundation last year. Of course they're tiny saplings right now, but are looking healthy.

Ms. Terri: I think a lot of folks are starting to see the benefits of the "Buy Fresh Buy Local" movement. It seems to really be pickin up steam in urban areas.

SR: Thanks for the "like." And thanks for stoppin by. You said, "some day," why not today? I'll help. ;~)

Ms. Susie: Unfortunately, we can't grow all our food either. And if we could, the teens would starve! ;~)

Ms. Kylee: Ain't they just so redbuddy lookin and all purddy and what not?? ;~)

Roses and Lilacs said...

I do know that organic produce means no pesticide and no chemical fertilizer. I'm not as concerned about what the organic fertilizer ate or what the water contained. It's a start and I'm happy with it. As people become more aware the organic options the certifications will become clearer and big business will find more methods of circumventing them.

We have to be realistic, TC. Even your own soil probably isn't free of chemical fertilizers which tend to linger for years and how often do any of ushave our own water analized for nitrates?
Marnie

TC said...

Hey Ms. Marnie, I think education and awareness are two of the biggest things we can do as garden communicators to help folks understand. I also think there's two different mindsets that haven't really been explored; rural vs. urban. I think rural folks have more control over certain factors.

walk2write said...

Are you kidding? Slow down enough to see what's at the end of the fork? I grew up in a military family. Remember Major Payne out for a dinner date with his new girlfriend? Really, though, all of the labels are confusing and maybe sometimes misleading. I used to think pure was pure and truth was truth, but it's hard to tell what's what these days. We'll just keep soldiering on in the garden....

Frances said...

Hi TC, only one way, grow it yourself. Of course we cannot grow everything we eat, not even close for me, and we would make ourselves crazy worrying about it all. Be careful what you buy and where and hope for the best! Public opinion does seem to be moving in the right direction though, that may help. Reading about the e coli in manure is much more worrisome, as is the anti-antibiotic MRSA in meat prodcuts. Now that scares the hell out of me!
Frances