Tip! Cost savings, because you do not need to buy costly chemical fertilizers and pesticides with organic gardening. Many organic recipes for the control of pest and disease come straight from the kitchen cupboard, and sometimes other plants can even be grown as companions to the main crop.
Some organic produce enthusiasts are cheering about its increasingly widespread availability. They say it’s about time that huge retailers like Safeway, Costco, and even Wal-Mart have begun to add organic products to their shelves. With the market beginning to boom, some of the world’s largest food manufacturers are beginning to jump on the bandwagon, as well, such as Kellogg’s, Kraft, and General Foods. Isn’t that good news for advocates of healthier food?
The answer is a qualified maybe. It’s a simple case of the time-proven law of supply-and-demand. The organic market has been growing steadily for decades, and once the numbers were there, it was inevitable that the big companies would step in to grab a share of the market. Some less enthusiastic organic foods advocates have expressed concern that having the giant retailers move into the market will ultimately weaken certification standards and hurt small farmers who have been able to capitalize on serving the organic niche market in order to survive.
The market share for organic produce is still miniscule, accounting for less than 3 percent of U.S. retail food sales in 2005, but the numbers are still impressive: $14 billion in sales and increases of 16 percent for organic produce, 24 percent for organic milk, and a whopping 55 percent rise in organic beef sales over the past year. Certified organic products typically sell at a 20-30 percent premium over similar non-organic ones. Given numbers like those, it’s not surprising that the nation’s mega-retailers are beginning to get excited by the possibilities for future growth.
However, there is growing concern that as factory-style farms move into the organic area to fill the demand from giant retail chains, the certification process may be lessened to allow those huge farms to meet the specifications. Those fears were given some credence when a recent report by the Cornucopia Institute discovered that two of the largest organic dairies in the nation keep their cows primarily in huge feedlots with little or no chance to graze on pasture.
At the moment, the demand for organic milk outstrips supply, but if the trend continues (and there’s no reason to believe it won’t), it could cause genuine problems for small farmers, who have been all but squeezed out of nearly every other phase of agriculture, but managed to find a market niche that allowed them to stay in business.
One of the biggest effects on the market will be retail giant Wal-Mart’s demand for considerably lower prices. That means smaller profit margins for suppliers, but it could also mean a further loosening of certification standards in order to meet the demand and the low prices Wal-Mart would expect.
Where will it all lead? It’s too early to tell, but if the current trend continues, it would appear that the consumer cost of organic produce and meat is going to become more affordable. However, it’s yet to be determined how much loosening of the certification guidelines will take place in order for that to take place.
Copyright © 2006 Jeanette J. Fisher
size=”1″>Tip! Sustainability. In his book, Gardening Organically, John Fedor defines sustainability as “the ability of a society or an ecosystem to function indefinitely without squandering the resources on which it relies.
Grow your own
The cheapest method has got to be to grow your own. The great thing is that it doesn’t require you to have much garden space, or even a garden at all!
We grow tomatoes, and strawberries in containers and the extra benefit is that you get total control over the growing conditions.
The best combination is to have organic soil together with organically produced seeds or plants, that way you ensure you get the full flavour and benefit.
Containers can be placed anywhere that receives a reasonable amount of daylight, which means that you can use them on balconies or other hard surfaces.
Tip! Strawberries: 500 pounds of pesticide an acre is sprayed on non-organic strawberries.
Look for your local suppliers
One of the most satisfying things to do is to buy organic food locally. That way you get the freshest ingredients for your kitchen and also get to support local businesses. With no transportation costs for the supplier too you should get very competitive prices.
Don’t forget that these same businesses will be employing local staff so you are also helping the local economy, everybody wins in this scenario.
We visit a big monthly market held on a disused airstrip. Organic food is just one of the variety of items sold there but the prices are very, very good indeed. Of course they are all local suppliers and with several of them in one place we benefit from healthy competition and get to sample a lot of fruit!
Tip! Failing to plan – Planning is crucial to a successful organic veggie garden. You need to consider the aspect of your plot/s.
Local box schemes
If you are unable to get out of your house or are too busy working to select your groceries by hand then why not subscribe to an organic box scheme?
You will receive, delivered to your door, a weekly selection of fruit and vegetables in season.
Finally, investigate whether any farms near you are operating an organic farm shop. Our local one is operated on an open farm so that you can go and see where the animals are being kept and take a look at the crops being grown.
Tip! Bananas: Non-organic bananas from Central and South America are produced using benomyl (linked to birth defects) and chloropyrifos (neurotoxin).
They actually have a well-designed walking route around the farm which makes a nice day out for the kids too.
If you investigate the options above you should be able to make considerable savings whilst you and your family sample the delights and advantages of organic food.
Virginia Louise is a keen convert to the organic way of life, having two children has especially highlighted the benefits to be gained by them from eating organically.
Virginia runs an information site on the advantages of organic food where you can obtain lots of free information about what makes organic food so beneficial, where to get it and suggested recipes.
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