food

Organic Food is Better for You!

Type: 
Food
author or publications: 
Andre Leu
Description: 

Many people purchase organic food because they believe it is healthier than conventionally grown food. The organic industry is constantly told that there is no evidence to support these claims. This article looks at published information that shows that organic food is substantially healthier than conventional food.

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Andre Leu
Andre has been involved in the organic industry since 1972. He currently owns a certified organic farm in the lower section of the Daintree River valley in North Queensland, Australia. He grows organic tropical fruits from part of the farm, with the balance being retained as tropical rain forest. Andre is the Chair of the Organic Federation of Australia, the peak organisation for the organic industry in Australia He is also chairperson of the Far North Queensland Lychee Growers Association and Vice President of the Australian Lychee Growers Association, where he has the responsibility for developing export markets. Andre runs workshops on organic production in Australia and other countries and teaches horticulture and environment at Tropical North Queensland Institute of TAFE.

Nutrition

Research published in 2001 showed that the current fruit and vegetables in the USA have about half the vitamin content of their counterparts in 1963. This study was based on comparing published US Department of Agriculture (USDA) figures.1

A scientific study published in the Journal of Applied Nutrition in 1993 clearly showed that organic food is more nutritious than conventional food. Organically and conventionally grown apples, potatoes, pears, wheat, and sweet corn were purchased in the western suburbs of Chicago, over two years, and analysed for mineral content. The organically grown food averaged 63% higher in calcium, 73% higher in iron, 118% higher in magnesium, 178% higher in molybdenum, 91% higher in phosphorus, 125% higher in potassium and 60% higher in zinc. The organic food averaged 29% lower in mercury than the conventionally raised food.2

A peer reviewed scientific article published in the February 2003 edition of the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry stated that organically grown corn, strawberries and marionberries have significantly higher levels of cancer fighting antioxidants than conventionally grown foods. Some of these compounds, such as Flavonoids, are phenolic compounds that have potent antioxidant activities. Many are produced in plants in response to environmental stresses, such as insects or competing plants. They are protective compounds that act as a plant's natural defense and also have protective properties in human and animal health.

The research suggested that pesticides and herbicides disrupt the production of these protective compounds.

Our Farm CSA

Type: 
Food
author or publications: 
David Blume
Description: 

For 11 years, the International Institute ran a Community Supported Agriculuture Program call "OUR FARM" in Woodside, CA. Our Farm was a collaboration between eaters and farmers in which the farmers raised produce for a limited number of eaters (sharers) at a fixed price, rather than for the general market. The sharers received the farm's produce, at or near the cost of production, throughout the year. There were no middlemen between farmer and consumer.

Full Text: 

Our Farm was a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) project of the non-profit International Institute for Ecological Agriculture. Unfortunately, Our Farm is not in operation any longer. We lost our lease in 2001. We are currently looking for new land. In the meantime, the information about CSAs in general may be interesting to you.

To find an operational CSA go to www.localharvest.org. For more information on Our Farm, see our media archives and our past newsletters.

CSAs are a collaboration between eaters and farmers in which the farmers raise produce for a limited number of eaters (shares) at a fixed price rather than at the general market price. The share owners receive the farm's produce at or near the cost of production, throughout the year. There are no middlemen and no extra costs between farmer and consumer.

Consumers share both the bounty and the risk with the farmer. For instance three years ago, winter floods drove the price of lettuce up to $2.50 per head in the markets. But Our Farm's share owners paid not a penny extra for their "green gold." As a balance, though, a few of Our Farm's other crops did drown in the deluge, so a few weeks were pretty slim.

The farmers work closely with the share owners to tailor production to the requests of the share owners. The kinds of vegetables grown are often heirloom varieties prized for their flavor and nutritional value, rather than shipping quality and shelf life. When a share owner wants more broccoli than might be considered average, they'll get it. Are the share owner's family members big salad eaters who want to receive their salad as a mix? How about herbs; lots of oregano or more basil? Does a share owner want to have seeds from her aunt in India grown out? The farmers try to accommodate as many wishes as they can.

CSA-style farming has been practiced for a long time in Europe and Japan but is relatively new in the US. The first American CSA was established in 1989 and in the last few years the number has grown to over 1500! CSAs are now considered one of the prime methods to save the family farm. Here is more information about CSAs.

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