Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Staying Organic During Tough Times

From Jeff Cox  

[This post is from Organic to Be, a wonderful website Yupfarming encourages everyone to visit and support in what they are doing.]

I saw a headline in the paper today that said people are beginning to question whether to buy organic food because times are getting tough and they don't want to spend the money on it.

So, okay, let's go back to eating food grown conventionally. And what will you spend on health care for the problems created by the pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, chemical fertilizers, hormones, and genetically altered and denatured food that result from that way of farming?

And what will it cost you when the animal products you eat or drink contain antibiotics that promote antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria that cause illnesses that are ever-harder to cure with the treatments we have?

And where will your dollars go when you buy conventional food, especially refined and processed products? Straight into the coffers of the big agribusiness companies. Do you think their bottom line is your good health? Think again.

I was checking out at the supermarket today behind a dad and his young son. I happened to notice the over-refined, processed, sugary and fat-laden foods he was buying for that kid. Cheaper than organic? Sure. Better for the kid? No. Cheaper in the long run? Far from it.

Turning away from organic foods because of the cost? Wait a minute. Organic agriculture is sustainable. That means you can grow food this way in perpetuity without wrecking the land and its ecosystems. What do you think is the cost of soil erosion, waterway pollution, and the depletion of topsoil under conventional agriculture? The bill may not come due today, but it will come due tomorrow.

Shop wisely, shoppers. You don't have to eat the most expensive organic products in the store. I shop regularly at an organic market. And I have discovered that there is a wide price range of organic products available for almost every item in the store.

Keep in mind a good balance of starches and carbohydrates (pastas, breads, potatoes, etc.), proteins (meats, tofu, milk, eggs, etc.), and lots of leafy and root vegetables (spinach, chard, kale, carrots, parsnips, rutabagas, etc.). If you buy them raw and unprocessed and cook them yourself at home, the cost won't be much more than you'd pay at the big conventional supermarkets.

As for fruits, stick with what's in season. Blueberries from Argentina are expensive. Blueberries from here aren't, if you buy plenty in July so you can freeze some for the winter months. Buy local, seasonal fruits and vegetables grown organically.

Frequent the farmers markets and the farm stands. Buy tomatoes at the peak of their season and for goodness sake make tomato sauce to use for spaghetti. Last year, we grew six tomato plants in a 20x 12 plot and canned 48 quarts of spaghetti sauce from their bounty.

Think ahead in the summer months. When the farmers markets shut down for the winter, make sure you've put some food by for the winter by buying organic fruits and vegetables when they're in season and canning and freezing them, plus drying some for fruit leather. Do you know that you can buy Butternut squash in the fall and store it on the floor of a cold room or garage perfectly well over winter, as long as the room doesn't freeze? It only gets sweeter.

And those organic treats, like ice cream? Invest in a home ice cream maker and use organic cream to make your own using your own frozen fruit. It's cheaper than conventional ice cream if you do it that way. Make a cake with organic flour and freeze slices. Take your organic chicken carcasses and instead of throwing them in the garbage, boil them in water with an onion to make your own chicken broth for soups and stews.

When the cherries were ripe last June, I filled a crock with sugar and brandy and cherries and covered it tightly. I put it away in the garage and will open it, with great fanfare and delight, at Christmastime.

Get creative. Have fun. But for goodness sake, stay organic, for in that way you protect yourself, your loved ones, and the earth that grows our food. ~ See also Jeff's The Organic Food Buyers Guide ~~

Yupfarming says:

Jeff Cox is totally right but there is an additional alternative. Start growing your own organic food. Grow enough and your food bills will go DOWN. Put in a garden with neighbors and share the results, and you will have fun. Or everyone could grow something on their own at home and trade the results with neighbors who are also growing their own. On a relatively small amount of land, it is possible to grow a significant amount of food - to say nothing of learning a lot and building a connection with neighbors and creating real food security.  

But any complete organic food system is based on two things - protecting indigenous seeds (please read http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2008/06/19/vitamin-c-about-to-be-made-illegal-in-canada.aspx?source=nl and realize that it would apply to seeds and seed banking) and access to real milk (please read about the USDA effort to destroy independent dairy farmers http://www.counterpunch.org/cohen04262008.html and about NAIS which is a corporate threat to control all animals http://www.opednews.com/articles/Legal-Defense-Fund-Files-S-by-Farm-to-Consumer-L-080715-264.html).  

"Organic" is something that needs our protection. It is real and healthy food and the heart of "independent" (local and sustainable) agriculture and it is all under threat. The corporations are why we are in "hard times" and they would love nothing more than for people to feel they can't afford organic food. But if you realize that "organic" is about freedom to farm and to choose what you want to heal yourself, your commitment to it won't just be culinary or because it tastes good but will be deeper to the economics of why it and its farmers are threatened  

Industrial agriculture is responsible for 1/3 of global warming. Organic farming is actually a solution. http://www.grist.org/feature/2008/05/09/index.html So, start your own garden and let your friends and family know what moves are being made to eliminate our farmers and naturals substances and our choices.  

You can also go to http://www.lef.org/magazine/mag2006/mar2006_cover_cherries_01.htm to see how good food and health overlap and the games that are being played with information and choice. You can go to http://www.reformFDA.org to see what people are trying to do to protect access to natural substance. There needs to be a comparable Food Freedom organization going after the USDA to protect our farmers and food.

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