The Truth About Organic

Sep 2013: Aren’t you getting tired of all the talk about organic? Last week the media was full of news about a report by Stanford analyzing 75 research reports on whether or not there is more nutritional value in organic foods. How silly!

The truth is that it really doesn’t matter!  Growing fruits and vegetables organically has to be better for the land and for the environment.  If we can afford it, we need to support the small farmers doing their best to bring us fresh responsibly grown food.

The other day I was in the produce department of my local supermarket, and the produce guy pointed out to me that I could buy regular raspberries for one dollar less than the same amount of organic raspberries—did I want to save one dollar?  It all depends on where and how they were grown—not on whether they are labeled “organic”.  First of all, the standards for organic were lowered in younger Bush’s first administration.  Secondly, what is often labeled “organic” may have travelled a long way to get to your market; for instance, “organic” apples in May from China.  And, thirdly, there are quite a few very responsible growers who chose to stay under the banner of “certified”, whose food is healthful, locally grown, and picked fresh.  You see, big business knows the demand for what is called “organic” is growing at the rate of 20 percent a year.  So, big growers are getting into the organic market.  Maybe the produce is grown without pesticides and commercial fertilizers, but it still may be mass produced and over watered.

What can we the consumer do?  The best is to ask where were these raspberries grown?  And, how long did they sit in some distribution warehouse?  Even better is to buy them from the farmer who grew them.  I am fascinated about the perception that some supermarkets (like Whole Foods) are better because they are “organic”, when even they have distribution warehouses now.  I also notice that at some of the neighborhood so called farmers markets, it is clear that the vender bought the cases of fruits or vegetables from the larger produce market.  Even these small neighborhood farmers markets may not have very high standards—be wary of one that sells bags of oranges in Northern California, where we don’t have orange groves.   Even better, is to grow your own fruits and vegetables—then you really don’t have to worry whether its “certified” or “organic” or “locally grown”.  You know it is!

Last weekend I had a marvelous time with my niece, Mandy Risley, and her family in Seattle.  A neighbor of theirs was trading his plums with other neighbors; so, we got some fresh plums too–right off the trees.   In the old days, people would cook the fruits of summer with masses of sugar to store in sterilized jars in a cool place.   This way the fruits could be preserved (without refrigeration) and eaten throughout the winter.  Nowadays, we can make a delicious fruit preserve by cooking the fruit gently with a sprinkling of sugar and a splash of lemon juice.  Without all the extra sugar, these fruit preserves, if not eaten right away, can be stored in the fridge.

Here for you is my Recipe for Scones with Fresh Plum Compote.  The Scones don’t take long to make and are perfect to make with kids!  If you aren’t sure how to handle the dough, be sure to watch me on my latest YouTube Video.  Fresh Scones from the oven—Yum!  Remember to have fun cooking and don’t let anyone fool you with labels like “Organic”, it’s just marketing!