Recently I read an article on the Rodale Institute website about how many organic farmers in California were opting out of organics and going back to conventional farming. Many of them simply dropped their certification and continued to farm exactly the same way they always did... organically. Almost to a person, those interviewed said it was simply to expensive and too labor intensive to continue to be certified. One farmer said it cost him $1800 to grow an acre of certified organic spinach versus $300 to grow the same field conventionally. And with the cost of fuel and supplies going up on an almost weekly basis, there will be more farmers "jumping ship" in the near future.
Since many consumers are very uneducated about exactly what "certified organic" really means they are opting to shop for price instead of for the quality and safety of their food supply. And I totally understand that. If I didn't have 17 acres of organic food right out my back door, I am not sure I would be able to be as "organic" as I am now. I am able to spend my food budget on what many people consider organic luxury items since we grow 90% of what we eat.
Even conventional food prices are rising in some part of even this country to levels where middle and upper middle class families are cutting back on some things. Having a source for local produce and other food products is a blessing for many people because there are so many parts of the country where there is extremely limited access. Having a source for local certified organic produce is unheard of in many areas, especially in North Carolina.
Shopping at local farmer's markets is a great way to supply the weekly produce (and other needs, depending on the market) for your family. Even better is belonging to a CSA because over the entire length of the season you will save substantially on your fresh food costs and be provided with an array of produce you might not otherwise have access to. While being in a CSA is a gamble, if the farmer is good at what he does, the reward is well worth the inherent risk of belonging to a CSA.
At New Moon Farm, we are dedicated to our members and they are the ones we consider with nearly every spade of dirt that is turned in the gardens. Because of the great diversity of varieties grown, and the way we grow them, we don't face total crop failures, even in the most extreme conditions (drought last year, for example). We grow what we call "micro-crops", sometimes only 3-4 rows of something rare or especially hard to grow, so that our members can be exposed to things they would never have the opportunity to experience. While a weekly share may sometimes be smaller than we anticipate on a given week, there has never been a week where members only got 1 or 2 items in their box. And when there is bounty, everybody shares in that bounty.