Apart from the increasing costs of food produce, the eerie health hazards from GMO crops and chemicals, have generally made people stand up and question where their food is coming from and how it is produced. Organic produce is still more expensive than conventional produce as generous subsidies on hybrid seeds, fertilizers and pesticides help the chemical companies keep their business growing while producing cheaper (less nutritious) food. Organic farming relies on natural ingredients for composting, fertilizers and pesticides making it more labor and cost intensive.
Is “organic” labelled produce really natural?
From an initial resistance due to cost dynamics, organic food now has more buyers than ever before. Proof is the increase in shoppers found in the “organic foods” section of most grocery marts. Organic protocols, though strict, still are a long way away from standardization and regularization.
The labels that certify organic are not very reliable as they are often caught in red-tape. Some certified labels can be bought by paying money and there is no regulation for the labels ‘natural’.
. Only products made entirely with certified organic ingredients and methods can be labeled 100% organic.
. Products containing a minimum of 70% organic ingredients, can be labeled as made with organic ingredients but may not display the USDA Organic seal.
Organic certification and testing policies still has loopholes that can allow malpractices to creep in making the “natural” process unnatural. Read the labels carefully to be completely sure you are paying for the “real” stuff.
Farmer’s market- Direct connect
Your next best bet is to go farm shopping. Sunday markets where you can get fresh farm produce are mushrooming and growing at a rapid pace. Without the haggling from middle men, farmers and consumers are able to get good profits and bargains respectively. It cannot get more natural than this and being in the open markets just add to the “healthy” feeling.
But the sad part about natural farm produce (unless you live near the countryside) is availability and the distance you need to travel to procure good produce. Many farmers now deliver stuff but it still isn’t completely
Home gardening: Your best bet
All is not lost if you really want to eat fresh and organic food. You don’t need acres of land to grow stuff. All you need is a rooftop or even a window sill to grow some foods from your grocery list. Growing food might seem like a daunting task but is much simpler than it sounds.
Although it looks like time-consuming work, it all boils down to spending quality time to create homegrown food for the benefit of your family’s health and for it’s cost efficiency. Organic home-farming gives physical, mental, community and skills-building benefits that translate to economic benefits in the longer run. It’s much cheaper to spend a couple of hours gardening to improve your mental health than acquiring and treating ailments consuming chemically altered food.
Based on the space available you can start off with herbs and veggies that require less time, space, upfront investment and maintenance. You can get a lot of help online on how to get going.
Benefits of organic farming
.Better Health: Everyone is looking
. Cost effective: Once you establish the practice of gardening, your grocery bill will reduce substantially. A packet of seeds will cost almost less than a dollar. If you buy heirloom and non-hybrid species, you can save the seeds from the best producers, dry them and use them the next year. Learning how to dry, can, or preserve your seasonal harvests is a wonderful thing as you can feast on
.Environment friendly: Because organic farming does not use chemical fertilizers and pesticides, it reduces nonrenewable energy use and helps decrease air, water and soil pollution. Organic farming increases the amount of carbon returned to the soil decreasing the impact of the greenhouse effect and global warming. The use of fossil fuels will also be largely reduced since you will not be buying produce which will be shipped in refrigerators from another place to your local grocery store.
.Better Taste: Everyone loves freshly cooked food which tastes much better than food in a restaurant. Now imagine, if you cook fresh food from fresh produce? How infinitely better your food will taste! Your produce does not go through cartons, refrigeration or preservatives and the taste will reflect on your food and your body will be thank you for it. Organic produce has lower nitrate contents than non-organic versions which lead to sweeter-tasting fruits that have been shown to contain higher antioxidant levels.
.Safer Water: Chemicals from conventional farming seeps into groundwater supply. Although soil is a
Keeping Organic farming sustainable
Most people try too many things right at the start and fail to enjoy the process of growing something which is more of a psychologically stimulating process like bringing up kids. Make a small list and start slow. Enjoy every minute of it and the end result will be heavenly. Here are some tips to keep your realistic expectations:
. Grow vegetables and fruits you consume often
. Make home-grown pest sprays
. Make compost from food scraps
. Harvest rain-water to use for your garden
. Re-use water from the kitchen
. Grow greens as they grow and produce quickly.
. Select pots at least a foot in diameter for growing herbs.
. Select pots at least 16 inches wide and deep for larger crops.
. Use fresh potting soil every year.
. Choose easy crops like tomatoes or herbs like thyme, rosemary and basil
. Snip herbs and dry them for later use.
. Grow plants on movable table so you can rotate them when you need more or less sun exposure.
. Some plants like beans and blackberry vines can be grown on walls.
. Use drip irrigation to conserve water