Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Organic vs. Non-organic Produce

Humans have been growing produce organically for thousands of years. Today, the USDA has strict regulations governing the production of organic produce. In general, the use of genetically engineered seeds and methods, chemicals or radiation as preservatives, and chemically based fertilizers and pesticides are not allowed. Organic agricultural methods are more ecologically proper, sustainable, less harmful to the environment and overall are more energy efficient.

Organic produce are richer in vitamins, minerals, enzymes, trace elements and other nutrients than the fruits and vegetables produced by chemical based methods. In a recent study, antioxidant levels found in organically grown vegetables were almost 30% higher than conventional chemically enhanced vegetables.

Perhaps the most important reason to consume organic produce is that the human bodies were not designed to be constantly bombarded with chemicals and biologically altered products on a long term basis. Many of the problems associated with the non-organic foods will take years if not generations to show clear "cause and effect" consequences on our health. What we do know is that the herbicides and the pesticides used in non-organic farming are all "toxic" because that is how they were created. Obviously, the intake of toxic foods is bad for our health. The long term physiological and neurological damages done to the human health by consuming non-organic foods are numerous and very complex.

Another major health concern with the consumption of non-organic foods is the industry's wide and heavy use of antibiotics and growth hormones as supplements in animal feed. These supplements are used primarily to make the animals grow faster, bigger and less disease prone, leading to higher production yields. Numerous studies indicate that traces of these supplements remain in the food chain. It is not unreasonable to assume that the infusion of these biological and chemical agents into the food chain may be partially responsible for human obesity and other serious and growing health problems such as diabetes, coronary illnesses, autism, etc., etc.

Organic produce and food products have become more and more mainstream.They are more available in supermarkets. However, farmer's markets, smaller organic health food stores and community supported agriculture (CSA) are still more reliable outlets for organic produce and of course, local food.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Back to the Blog

I have been a blogslacker (I made that word up...) lately but I have a good excuse. I do our website myself and am an old dinosaur when it comes to writing the code for the site. It takes me forever because I don't use a program for it and I have to tweak every page until I like it and that can take me days just to finish one section. While our website is pretty "folksy" and homemade, it takes a lot of work to make it look that way. There is a new 300+ photo album that has pictures from our 10 years here. The other new page is the 2010 Crop List and you can go there from here . That page is the one that took forever because I had to look through about 1000 photos to find the right ones since it has pictures of each veggie, most of which were taken of stuff harvested here at the Farm. I had to use stock photos for a couple of things, but noted that by the pics, so there is no confusion. Don't want to mislead.

And speaking of misleading, I recently looked at a couple of "local produce buying club" websites that deliver in this area. I am sorry to be my usual cynical self, but if you are buying a basket of produce and it has avocados, bananas or oranges in it, it ain't "local", at least by my definition. I guess they mean that the buying club is local, not the produce, but that is misleading. Guess the argument could be made that any assumption made by the consumer is not the fault of the operator. Of course, I have canvassed grocery store produce managers about their definition of local and have come to the conclusion that to some people "local" means grown on Planet Earth. Personally, I try to keep my "local" sphere within a 50 miles range, just because there is a great dairy that I buy cheese from and it is just about 50 miles from me. Other than that, more than 20 miles away makes me twitch.

Friday, February 12, 2010


Support New Moon Farm Organics by participating in our

We have issued 100 "I SUPPORT NEW MOON FARM" discount cards,which will sell for $10 each.
The card will entitle the holder to a 10% discount on produce purchases for the entire 2010 market season
at the Davidson Farmer's market and/or
at any other farmer's market we attend in 2010.
The card can be used as a one time $20.00 discount toward
a 12 week membership in our

Why the fundraiser?
Dave and I are passionate organic farmers, although it isn't a profession that pays a whole lot. Of course, we don't do it just for the money. There is something deeper than I can't quite explain with mere words, that keeps us at this year after year. We consider it our "calling", a deep and spiritual need to express our caring for this world by doing something concrete to demonstrate that concern. For us, it has never been about money. Unfortunately, however, we live in a world where money rules.

With the tremendous amount of medical and other bills related to Dave's cancer, we have almost completely exhausted our savings. While we now have coverage for almost everything that Dave requires, for the first four months of his illness nothing was covered, because his cancer was a pre-existing condition. We have a mountain of medical bills to prove it.

We are presently in a situation where we simply need to ask our friends and neighbors for a little help. Like most very independent people, it is hard to ask for a handout and that is not the case now. We always budget for our off season months, including unplanned and emergency expenses. This year it was one unplanned expense after another and now our "emergency fund" is almost gone.

Because farming is seasonal, we won't have any regular stream of funds coming in until late March or April and so we need to raise a bit of capital between now and then. To do so, we decided that a little fund raiser might be the solution to get us over this rough financial patch. The post at the beginning of this blog gives the simple details. Even though the button says "DONATE" this is actually more of a "special offer". Of course, any donation, however small, would be greatly appreciated.


Sunday, February 7, 2010

This article is posted on one of my other blogs, but I thought it was a good topic for this one, too. The original post was sparked by an article I read about how Dean Foods "quietly removed" the word organic from the label of its line of Silk Soy products. I identified with the headline because I was a victim of exactly what the article was written about. (The link on this blog is listed at the menu on the right but it won't stay up forever so you can read the article at for as long as it stays posted there. If it is removed, look at for articles written by By BARRY SHLACHTER )

Because I try to stay 90-95% organic in my choices about food, cosmetics, etc. I try alot of products, always looking for quality and good value. I stay away from anything organic from China, sadly because I just don't trust them yet. Ditto for anything that is not labeled with what I consider to be a legitimate organic certifying body for foreign goods. There are a lot of non-domestic "organic" products finding their way onto our supermarket shelves because frankly, there is not enough organic agriculture, etc. in the U.S. to keep up with the demand. Even though conventional agriculture continually tries to discredit organics, it is still far and away, even counting in the cheaters, way safer and healthier food. Safer for not just people but for the whole planet.

Anyway, it is what I believe, it is my life and I am relentless in my search for quality products. Oh, by the way, did I mention that I own an organic farm and I actually grow most of my own food, make my own cosmetics and generally do not routinely shop at the supermarket for anything except for things I can't produce myself. Soy milk is one of those things. So, now for the reason for this information and how it relates to soy products.

I don't do dairy. I am allergic to milk - not lactose intolerant- but truly allergic, with hives, stomach upset, everything you'd expect with an allergy. I passed this allergy onto my kids, although mine is more severe. Bottom line is that soy and alternatives to milk products has been a way of life for us. Soy has always been my product of choice. I drink it, cook with it, put it on my cereal. I never developed a taste goat milk and while I have been known to make my own almond milk, by the time I made enough for our usage, it would cost me a fortune so I stick with soy.

In my search for product I liked, I settled on Silk Organic Soy Milk. It has passed all my taste tests and I just like the product line. I have been buying it for years. White Wave, the company who produces Silk, is owned by Dean Foods and they have about 3/4 of the market share of these products anyway but it is a superior product, in my opinion. Buying these products from this conglomerate is one of the compromises that I make in my food choices. I am not buying local, I am not buying from a small family company and that is a bit of a sticking point, I admit. My conscience also tells me that this corporate giant (Dean) is not to be totally trusted but since I know that going in, it is my free choice to buy their products. For some reason that makes me feel a little better, knowing that they are not screwing me over, without my knowledge. I am allowing them to do it and that I think is called consent.

Recently, however, they confirmed my belief in the "not to be trusted" scenario. They quietly deleted the word "ORGANIC" from the label of most their products. No change was made at all to the carton but the much reduced organic line (I have only seen 2 products) is now in completely new and different green cartons. So if stocked on the same shelves, the organic product would stand out and that was the good news.

The bad news, unfortunately,that is not what happened. What did happen is that they didn't bother to tell retailers about the changes, so the retailers, in turn, continued get the same products they had been getting. Kind of a grocery store version of "don't ask, don't tell", much like what is going on with the unlabeled genetically engineered foods on the grocer's shelves.

Supermarkets don't work like they did 10-15 years ago, when the section manager actually made the decisions about products. Now the vendors just come in, place product and whatever they deem to be selling is what ends up on your grocers shelves. That is why there is such a limited selection of organic products in many of our local markets. There is no one who really knows anything about these products making any decisions. Decisions are made based on numbers on a page, not on customer demand. The numbers are calculates on sales in the store but if the store has no product to sell, how can those numbers reflect what customers might actually want. And as complacent consumers, we just accept that as the way it is.

When someone has been buying the exact same product, week after week, for several years, it is human nature to stop reading the label. Because nothing else changed on the cartons of Silk Soy, only the removal of the word organic, I didn't even notice that it wasn't there, until I got home from the market one day. For some reason, I was looking at the back of the carton and I noticed that the green "CERTIFIED ORGANIC" label was missing. Imagine my chagrin, because I have no idea how long it had not been there. I was furious to say the least. AND not only was the word "ORGANIC" removed, there is no disclaimer anywhere on the latest carton I purchased that says that it is made from non-GMO soybeans, which only incited my ire further. (To be fair in this tirade, that issue has since been corrected and the cartons now say that Silk is made with non-GMO soybeans grown domestically).

I immediately got online and looked up Silk Soy and discovered several articles written by other people who were just as angry as myself. I did find information about the much reduced organic line now offered by Silk but that hardly assuages my disgust for this company and their tactics. While I realize that the onus of responsibility for knowing what I am purchasing falls on me and only me, but this company's obvious "sneak attack" on one of their own organic products is unconscionable in my universe. Yes, the new cartons are bright green, easily discernible from the non-organic products, IF they are stocked on the shelves. It was a sneaky bait and switch as far as I am concerned but I hate to admit that I was one of those people who was duped by all this.

I have not stopped buying the non-organic Silk Soy products, because I can't find anything from the organic line at any of my limited sources. A couple of the local markets have their own lines of organic soy products now and the label says they are domestically grown, certified organic (non-GMO), although they are not as good as Silk Soy. I guess, at least for now, I will have to trust that the National Organic Program is doing its job. The NOP has the strictest organic guidelines on the planet at this point in time, but with lobbyists and politicians having a say in what happens at the USDA, who knows how long that will stay true.