Archive for the ‘Organic’ Category
Have you noticed that the “organic” section of your grocery store has grown exponentially in the last few years? This type of food, as it clearly seems, has ceased to be a fad of hippies and environmental nuts. Organic foods are everywhere and you can find them alongside other vegetables and fruits in your local stores and markets.
So how about the vegetables and fruits you grow at home?
Have you made the leap to this source of healthy food yet or do you still have a lot of pesticides on your garden shelf? Let’s take a look at how you can transform your regular garden into a delight of organic vegetables. It doesn’t take much and you won’t have as many problems with insects or poor soil as you thought.
Organic gardens are different from regular gardens in the way that the plants are fertilized and in the way that pests are controlled in the garden. True professionals use only natural products and materials and shy away from any synthetic materials that could be harmful to the environment or to those who consume the produce.
Just like conventional gardens, and perhaps a bit more so, organic gardens take a great deal of work. You may need to plan for a few healthy meals when the vegetable or fruit is in season and leave it at that. On the other hand, an organic farmer may decide to can their vegetables or otherwise store them for when they are longer in season. Clearly, a bigger garden is in store in that situation. Make sure your garden has a steady water supply and that the soil drains well into the ground.
Remember that organic fertilizers and conditioners work more slowly than the synthetic variety so mix up the soil with your fertilizer at least three weeks before you actually plant. Make sure you remove any organic materials that haven’t rotted yet and any weeds or unwanted plants. Fertilizers usually mean using animal manures, plant manures, compost or a mixture of different types of organic fertilizers. Some parts of the world rely on human waste but,
generally, that’s not recommended.
Your organic fertilizer will remove the hardness of the soil and improve its overall condition. The soil will be able to hold both water and nutrients much better after fertilizing it. In addition, organic fertilizer buffers the soil so it is more stable to extremes of acidity or alkalinity. In many cases, the microbiology of the soil improves and the added nutrients will gradually release themselves as the plants grow.
Organic plant fertilizer will add healthy nitrogen to the soil in a process called “nitrification”. Nitrogen is a necessary nutrient for the growth of most gardens—even conventional ones. Compost piles help organic gardens by improving the usable nitrogen component of the soil.
Animal manures make for the best type of fertilizer for the average organic garden. It needs to have been aged for at least 30 days to make the nitrogen more usable. The manure varies depending on the type of the animal, the way the animal was fed and even the condition of the animal. After letting the soil rest with the animal manure, you’re ready to plant and grow the healthiest garden possible.
Organic foods have become easier and easier to obtain in recent years. Still, many consumers wonder if this type of food is healthy enough to be worth the often extra cost. Many of the benefits of organic foods have come to consumers through word of mouth and the promotions put on by advocates of organic eating. Fortunately, there has been research and several solid arguments supporting the use of organic foods in everyday eating.
Several recent studies on farms which produce organic foods determined that organic farms don’t release synthetic pesticides into the ground, the air and, most importantly, the water table. Some of the inorganic, chemical pesticides are known to be harmful to wildlife and other animals. Organic farms also are superior to conventional farms when it comes to maintaining surrounding natural ecosystems. This includes, maintaining healthy populations of natural plants, insects and indigenous animals. They also rotate crops more often to maintain a healthy soil.
When researchers calculated the energy use per unit area or per unit of yield of organic food-producing farms, it was found that organic farms used less energy and generated less packaging and chemical waste than conventional produce farms. The yield in organic produce farms is about 20 percent less when those farms used half the fertilizer and 97 percent less pesticide than conventional farming. Others feel that organically-used soil is of a higher quality and maintains higher water retention than farms that raise produce conventionally. This factor may improve the yield of organic farms during years when rainfall is less than average.
In one study on organic farming techniques, a comparison of an organic farm and a conventional farm during a drought season, the yields of soybeans were between 50 and 90 percent better than the regular farms. Organic corn yields were mixed but, on average, the farms were on par with conventional farms.
Consider the risk of pesticide exposure on farm workers. Farm workers on organic farms are spared the health risks of being exposed to pesticides, which are great, even when used correctly. Pesticides made from organophosphates, in particular, can cause serious acute health problems with over-exposure. Long term exposure, unfortunately, is associated with breathing problems, memory problems, skin conditions, cancer, miscarriages and birth defects.
To make matters worse, those who eat food not grown in an organic fashion can be exposed to both pesticides and herbicides that remain on the food. This is why all produce from conventional farms should be washed carefully. Exposure to certain herbicides is known to cause birth defects, even in small doses. Sadly, one recent study showed that the greatest source of pesticides in babies is through the dietary consumption of food not grown in an organic fashion.
On a happier note, another study found that a group of children who were switched from a regular diet to an organic diet dramatically reduced their levels or organophosphate pesticide exposure. In addition, studies have shown that organic food actually tastes better in taste tests than conventional food.
If you want to keep your family as healthy as possible, consider making the switch to organic foods. The benefits to the environment and likely to your family’s health are considerable.
When you go to the grocery store or supermarket to buy fruits or vegetables, do you pick just any produce or are you particular about getting organic foods? There is a difference between the two and, after our discussion, you may decide that organic foods are the way to go. Let’s take a look at the benefits of buying organic produce.
While both types of produce may look the same, organic foods must be able to meet specific standards of production, including specific growing and processing conditions that are unique to foods that can be labeled “organic”. For crop foods, the organic foods can’t be grown using any chemical pesticides, non-organic fertilizer, human waste fertilizer or sludge from sewage. They also cannot be processed using ionizing radiation—a process that kills bacteria but that some people believe is unsafe. Finally, the food can’t be genetically altered.
At one point, organic foods were grown on small farms, particularly those that were family-owned and operated. In today’s time, however, organic foods are grown on larger farms and are more readily available in most supermarkets, co-ops and health food stores. In the US, parts of Europe and Japan, the production of organic foods is currently federally regulated and in other countries, specific organic certification is required before these foods can be sold.
Organic foods can include fresh vegetables and fruits, which are not processed and come directly from the growers through farmer’s markets, supermarkets and roadside stands. Many of these products are only available during certain times of the year. One can also get organic eggs, dairy products and meat in their fresh and unprocessed forms.
Organic eggs are generally provided by free-range chickens and not from those kept in cages in large, egg factories. Organic meats must not come from animals that have been treated with any growth hormones, steroids or antibiotics. Processed organic foods can be found in the organic food section of the supermarket but often are more expensive than their conventional food counterparts. Processed organic foods can include canned products, frozen produce, prepared items and even snack foods.
In truth, processed organic foods need only contain a certain percentage of organic ingredients. In Australia, for example, a food can be labeled “organic” if it contains at least 95% organic ingredients. In other countries, however, the percentage can be less than that. Even so, those non-organic ingredients must be free of artificial food additives and no aspect of the food can be processed using chemical ripening techniques, genetic modification or irradiation. In some cases, the organic food must be made using energy-saving techniques and packaged in recyclable or biodegradable materials.
It’s not always easy to identify whether or not your food is truly organic. Sometimes, you need to buy directly from an organic grower in order to be certain the food is organic. More recently, however, foods that are organic can be identified by governmental labeling, stating that the food is “certified organic”.
Because of the safety and wholesomeness of organic foods, you may wish to do you and your family a favor by buying only organic products. The food tastes excellent and you can be assured you’re getting a product that won’t be harmful to you.