Sunday April 22nd was Earth Day. One day out of the year when we try to do something nice for Mother earth doesn’t seem like too much. For those of us that weren’t aware of earth day, or not sure of how to observe or celebrate it, here is one way that you can get that Earth Day feeling every day.
When strolling up and down the fresh produce aisle in your grocery store, you are confronted with numerous choices, and most often the factors determining your selection have to do with appearance, provenance, price, and farming methodology. Often a common denominator found in all of these factors is whether or not the item-whether it is produce, meat or dairy-is organic.
Ironically, organic farming practices have been with us for thousands of years, but due to the technological advances of the twentieth century, with its emphasis on mass production and casual disregard for the environment, organic farming has been relegated to a sort of left –wing fringe status, a quaint, somewhat charming do-gooder hobby best left to hemp– wearing hippies rather than hard-working families trying to put the best food on the table at the most economical price.
Most people are not oblivious to the realities of industrialized farming. We are used to washing our vegetables, diligently following the advice on the cellophane packages, and literally cooking the shinola out of chickens and pork to avoid or neutralize the toxins, pesticides and growth hormones that are added. And when it comes to the husbandry of these food animals, we know what goes on in factory farms, but make a choice to ignore it.
Some consumers only buy organic and ethically raised produce and meat, some of occasionally buy it, and some of us never buy it. Perhaps once in a while we can honour the earth, the farmers who have dedicated their lives to their vocation and the animals themselves by purchasing an organically farmed head of lettuce or a pint of milk that is hormone and additive free, there are hundreds of choices out there. And every little bit helps.
For an in-depth, literate and lucid analysis of some of the myths and realities surrounding the debate over organic food and farming, check out this study commissioned by the JMG Foundation and the Soil Association.