How Organic is Your Organic?
How Organic are Your Organic Fruits and Vegetables?
When you buy organic produce, you invest in an ideal that your produce is grown and harvested in a particular way, in sympathy with organic growing standards, right?
But What Does This Mean To You?
For most, if a label on a product says ‘Organic’, you expect it to be grown without chemicals, not to have used GMO seeds, not to have been sprayed with pesticides after the growth phase and maybe even have a little dusting of mother earth, right?
Well, in 2017 the U.S. Department Of Agriculture (USDA) admitted that it had failed to thoroughly check up on imported organic produce. Horrifyingly, in one case, even though a large shipment of crops had not been grown to organic standards at the source country, and had been sprayed with pesticide whilst being imported to the US, they were labeled and sold as “organic”! This was a reflection of systemic failure, that has still not been fully addressed, which obviously does not meet USDA guidelines for organically grown produce.
So How Can You Tell If What You Are Buying Is Really Organic?
It may look lush and have a shiny ‘Organic’ label on it, but, as the above example shows, we know labels can lie.
Here is a quick list of things to look for when buying organic fruit and vegetables.
#1 Grow Your Own
I know it sounds cliché, but the only 100% method of making sure if your fruit and veg is organic, is to get digging and grow your own. This way you can control every point of the process and guarantee it will be bursting with flavour when it comes to harvest. Growing your own will also ensure a good quality organic, possibly heirloom seed has been used. The sense of fulfillment when you come to cropping will far outweigh browsing the organic section at the supermarket too!
#2 Shop Local
Stick to buying from local farmers, where you can easily visit the farm or whose reputation can easily be traced. Check farmers’ markets in your area for local growers. The short travel time will ensure your produce will be fresh, with the shortest distance from farm to table, and still retain high nutrient values, which diminish even just 12 hours after harvesting.
#3 Eat In Season
Long ago, the fruit and veg sections of your local grocery or supermarket would have been stocked with what was in season. Now we have a much wider choice of produce from far-flung parts of the world. Apples from New Zealand, pomegranates from Africa and oranges from Costa Rica are a small example of what you’ll regularly see on your shop shelves.
These have to be flown into the country, have less nutritional value and less chance of being regulated for organic standards. The organic growing standard for one country may not be the same as here in the US. So eating fresh produce which is in season in your part of the world, will ensure more chance of the farmer being regulated for organic standards and being fresh! Scarily it is a normal practice for fruits especially to be deep refrigerated for sometimes up to 6 months. Not very fresh!
#4 Knobbly Veg
Organic fruits and veg usually have a unique look. Not the shiny, bright, uniform sizes & shapes we are used to in the big brand supermarkets.
Vegetables that are grown naturally come in all shapes and sizes and can be more knobbly and have more earthy colours. Staying clear of perfect shaped veg is a really good idea, as this could be a sign of being grown with pesticides, growth hormones and who knows what else.
Are You Passionate About Growing Your Own Fruits and Veg?
If you are passionate about growing your own fruits and vegetables, we could help you. We want to build a huge, supportive growing community, where ideas and knowledge can be easily shared. Especially if you live in an urban environment and have lack of access to land or space to grow. We live in New York, so have learned to be inventive when it comes to growing and we can show you how too!
Help us build the community. We will share links to growing projects, ideas for urban vegetable and herb growth, offers and giveaways just like the one we are launching now!
- Louise Sullivan