Archive for August, 2010

Warm applesauce and add ice cream. Drizzle on warm honey for more messy decadence. If you stock up now, you can serve this on New Years.

The other day the IKEA catalog showed up in the mail. Sometimes I love the sterile, clean and a little hip Ikea vision of the world. And, to their credit, Ikea has been on the forefront of integrating green practices into their manufacturing and telling the world why. I actually like their green PR even if it might be inflated. The fact that “green” is on their radar puts “green” on the radar of millions of consumers. That’s only a good thing.

The headline on the middle of the catalog read, “Every little thing we do at home makes a difference.” This  green tips caught my eye — a full freezer is more efficient. I thought this was interesting and timely considering the abundance of produce in the market now.

One of the basic tips for eating local I’ve seen all over the internet is about freezing. The most cost-effective way to buy grass-fed beef is to buy a lot (we’re talking a whole or half a cow) and keep it in the freezer. The other money-saving tip is to stock up on fruits and vegetables in season and freeze them. That’s something I’ve sort of always done. But with my new fear of BPA lined cans and my new commitment to eating with a lighter carbon fork print, it’s become even more urgent.

During the winter, my kids eat corn. In the past I’ve bought frozen and organic corn in a package. But this year, I’m going to cook up a few ears tomorrow and cob them.

It’s a bit early for apples but I bought a bag of utility apples from a farmer in Pennsylvania Dutch country on my way home from Tennessee. I’ve been making tons of apple sauce and freezing it. I’ve found that pint size ice cream containers can be washed and reused. They’re a great size for an individual meals worth of applesauce.

I make my applesauce unsweetened. It’s very easy. All you have to do is to throw the entire apple into a pot with about a half a cup of water on the bottom to help the apples to start cooking. I also add a few cinnamon sticks. Cook the apples until they are falling apart. Then process them using a Foley mill which is sort of grinder that pushes the food through a sieve.

Here are my 3 cardinal rules of making applesauce:

1) Always add cinnamon. You can add other fruits like blueberries, cranberries, strawberries and peaches to either make the sauce sweeter or add a layer of flavor, but no matter what add cinnamon.

2) Cook the rotten fruit. Unless the fruit is totally mealy, you can cook it. In fact, when it starts to smell like cider, it’s makes the sauce even sweeter. So look for utility or seconds to make your applesauce.

3) Keep on the skins and leave in the cores. They add vitamin and flavor and with a Foley Mill, you don’t have to worry about the final product.

My mother taught me how to make this applesauce and when I say it’s easy, it’s really easy –I’ve been doing it since I was a toddler. In fact, making applesauce was one of her Thanksgiving projects she used to do annually with her class when she was a nursery school teacher. It was the culmination of an apple picking trip.

Of course not all the applesauce made it to the freezer. My kids love to eat applesauce with roast chicken. But we also love it warmed up with some vanilla ice cream. It’s a bit like mock apple pie with less work and less calories.

Caveat: like most apples in the Northeast, the apples I used from the PA Dutch Country were sprayed and I don’t think there was any lip-service to their being lightly sprayed. Basically,  if you want to make organic applesauce you have to import your apples from the Pacific Northwest or  some other far away place.

P.S – Ratatouille is another great freezer filler. For a great recipe with a grilled twist check out the latest post on What Would Cathy Eat?

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Right now, Speaker Christine C. Quinn is New York City's "Green" Champion. I wonder if she knows where to buy organic chicken sans the Styrofoam.

Let’s start with the good news.  Last month The City Council approved a bunch of bills that will finally overhaul NYC recycling laws. This legislation, which has been bouncing around all Spring,  will be the first major change to New York City recycling since 1989.

The new law will mean that finally all hard plastics will be recycled by the city. For New Yorker’s like me, it means we won’t have to be traipsing our #1 and #3 plastic garbage to other states or our#5 plastic to Whole Food. It also means that  they’re going to put more recycling bins in schools and public areas and allow residents to recycle hazardous waste like paint. (via New York Times Green Blog)

According to Speaker Christine C. Quinn, who’s been instrumental in pushing this bill through:

“Our legislation will divert over 8,000 tons of plastic every year away from landfills and incinerators.  That’s equal to the amount of trash produced by nearly 10,000 people each year.”

I first heard about this on the radio a few weeks ago. And I’m completely psyched about this. But can somebody tell me why I can’t buy an organic or at least humanely raised chicken that’s not packed in Styrofoam? Oh, yes, the Whole Foods saga continues.

I know that lots of people will say, just stop going to the grocery store. But the thing is, Whole Foods in Connecticut sells their chickens on recycled paper trays. So why not New York.

So I wondered, maybe the 59 th street Whole Foods was an anomaly. I called the Tribeca store and talked to Jeanette in customer service . Unfortunately, she told me that yes, the store in Tribeca uses Styrofoam trays.

“Are you allergic to Styrofoam?” she asked me.

“No,” I told her, “I”m just committed to not buying Styrofoam.”

Nobody’s surprised. She also agreed that it was against Whole Food’s corporate identity to use Styrofoam and promised me that she’d check and see if other NYC Whole Foods used Styrofoam. She never got back to me.

So yesterday, I ran to Fairways on 125th street. I’d had a good experience getting chicken in a paper wrapper on 72nd street, but 125th street was a bust. First of all I had to explain what I wanted in Spanish — which was tricky. (And no, I don’t know the word for Styrofoam in Spanish.) But the woman behind the butcher counter pretty much understood what I wanted. (She of course tried to take the chicken wrapped in Styrofoam and rewrap it). There was a chance they had more Organic chickens upstairs, but I ran out of patience and didn’t want to wait while they checked on the third floor.

I went to buy grass-fed beef instead, but the London Broil were imported from Australia. I’ve pretty much sworn off eating meat from other hemispheres let alone other states. Needless to say, I left Fairways with no dinner. (Maybe the universe wants me to go Vegan — I’m sure that’s what my cousin Donna will say.)

As I checked out, the man bagging my grass-fed milk was a bordering middle aged white guy wearing a tie — he was atypical for the average Fairway’s  grocery bagger.

“Are you a manager?” I asked.

“Yes,” he said.

“I just wanted you to know,” I told him, “I couldn’t buy any of your meeat or chicken because it was packed in styrofoam.”

“Are you allergic to Styrofoam?” he also asked. (Is there a big styrofoam allergy epidemic I don’t know about?)

“No,” I said, “I’m committed not to making garbage.”

The cashier, a large black teenager nodded. I could tell he completely agreed with me.

The manager guy didn’t dismiss me. He listened thoughtfully to what I said.

“I’ll raise your concerns,” he told me. And, you know something, I believe him.

Note: Several months ago I asked the Cornucopia Institute to check and see if Fairway’s Milk was legit. I also emailed Fairway’s to ask where they sourced their milk from, to see how local it was. I never got a response on either front. I need to dig around a bit more. Unless somebody else out there knows more.

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Eating road food makes garbage. But Zane with his reusable plate and spoon makes a little less trash while still enjoying the all-American free breakfast.

On Monday morning, we woke up in a Comfort Suites motel in Woodstock, Virginia. The breakfast buffet ran from 6 am to 9 am. We arrived at around 8:30 with a stack of picnic plates and silverware. There was white bread for toasting. There were mini muffins, and mini Danishes. There were biscuits with sausage gravy. There was make your own waffles – that was a big-time favorite. The kids went wild.

They weren’t alone. Everyone was happily eating. Fox News was playing on a big screen TV mounted on the wall. And we were surrounded by a room filled with processed food served and Styrofoam. Michael Pollan, in Omnivour’s Dilemma, talks about cheap food — well this was free food.
And America loves free food.

Up and down the highway from New York to Tennessee, billboards enticed us to stop by because: “Kids eat free!” I’m not ashamed to say I thought about stopping in.

“What should I get Jason?” I heard the mom standing next to me ask her son.

“I know he’ll wake up at 10 and be starvin’.”

“Is Jason on teenager?” I asked mom to mom.

Zane pointed to the big plastic trough of real fruit loops interrupting our chit-chat. “I want those,” Zane said, “Pleeeease.”

The mom smiled at me to give me courage. She was wearing a bright orange tie tied shirt that looked like she might have slept in it.

“No, he’s 7 and he’s picky. You’re in the room next store you probably heard us last night.”

She was wearing a bright orange tie-tied shirt that looked like she might have slept in it. The 10-year-old standing next to her looked sheepish.

“No, we didn’t hear anything,” I said. I turned to Zane.

“Ok. Go back to the table and get the paper cup.”

The mom pointed to the stack of Styrofoam bowls like the one she had in her hand filled with Frosted Flakes.

“They have bowls right here,” she offered helpfully..

“Well,” I started delicately, “we’re trying not to use Styrofoam. Styrofoam . . .”

“never goes away. I know. I don’t use it at home but when I’m out . . .”

“Yeah. It’s hard,” I said to her, “But I just try to bring stuff.”

I pointed to the picnic plate in my hand.

“We had these in the room anyway. I figured, why make more garbage?”

“Hmn,” she said.

“Why does it have to be Styrofoam?” I added, “Why not use paper if you have to use disposable?” She was clearly thinking over what I’d said.

“I don’t know. It’s a good question,” she agreed. I had her for a moment.

“You should say something to the management,” I suggested, “I am. If everyone says something, they’ll stop using Styrofoam.” I could see she had moved from interested to uncomfortable. She took a step away.

“Well, you’re more green than me,” she said. She smiled politely and took her food back to her 7-year-old in the room next to us.

Green Road Trip Tips:
It may not be local, and it may be filled with tons of chemicals and scary crap, but sometimes roadside food is part of the pleasurable of a road trip. So when you’re chowing down on local fare, here’s three quick tips to decrease your impact on the planet:

1) Bring your own stuff. I have a picnic cooler with plates and cutlery built into the side. It’s easy enough to grab that stuff rather than grabbing that plastic fork. (You actually get less hairy eyeballs than you’d think.)

2) Choose the cone. Frozen custard is not sustainable or probably good for you but it’s a sweet, sweet part of summer. Avoid the plastic or Styrofoam cup ans spring for the extra calories for a cone.

3) Eat local. That doesn’t only mean the farmer’s market. If you’re in the mood for a snack, try a local brand like these from chips from Pennsylvania.

Or if you want to eat healthy sustainable food, you can also check out eatwell.com.

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The farm up the road from my friend's house in Vermont didn't have milk I could buy , but they did have information that"s helping me make more educated dairy decisions in my supermarket -- and even at my farmer's market.

A tall lanky college boy danced from foot to foot behind us on the check out line at Earth Fare. He wasn’t exactly impatient, just burning up a little extra energy. But he would have had a right to be impatient — we had two carts loaded with a weeks worth of food for 8 people. He was pushing one of those mini shopping carts with a few spare items: 2 half gallons of chocolate milk in glass bottles and a bag of blue corn tortilla chips.
“Is that chocolate milk grass-fed?” I asked.
“Yeah” he said,  “I mean. I’m not sure. It’s here so it’s got to be good. I mean I’m pretty sure it’s organic.
I’d eyed that old-fashioned bottle of milk in the dairy aisle. It’s nostalgic shape gave me that warm, feel-good feeling that my $14/gallon farmer’s market milk does. But before I’d grabbed it, I’d asked the dairy man who was stocking the refrigerated shelves that same question a few minutes earlier. He’d also looked confused.
“It’s good stuff,” he said, “but I’m not sure if it’s grass fed.”
“More than 70% pastured?” I asked, “Like Organic Valley?”
He looked relieved, happy that I’d given him a question he could answer.
“Our brand of milk supplied by Organic Valley,” he said. “ That I know for sure.”
I picked up a gallon of the Earth Fare brand of milk and loaded it into our cart. Here’s why.

About two weeks ago I went up to visit my friend Chantal in Vermont. On Sunday morning I woke up at about 8 am. She’d said there was a farm up the road and I wanted to buy grass-fed milk. Sure, there was a 7-11 down the road but we were in the country. If I couldn’t get grass-fed milk from a Vermont farm than where could I? Don’t they have cows on their license plates?

The sun sparkled on the morning as I approached the farm. I drove past grazing dairy cows and a pick your own flower garden bursting with rows of Zinnias. Birds sang brightly and there was whirling noise is coming from the milking barn that sounded like a buzz saw but softer.

As I pulled in to park, a blond boy ran over to his father who was driving a red pickup truck with empty crates in the back. It was everything you’d expect from a dairy farm in Vermont. What surprised me was the big Organic Valley crest on their traditional red cow barn.

The farmer, who’s name my friend Chantal told me later was Amanda, was busy setting up her stand. Vermonters have a very distinct energy. I can’t think of anything to describe it besides “Chill.” Although Amanda couldn’t sell me any milk, (she tried but there was no milk in the vats on certain days) she did give me a quick overview of Organic Valley milk – more or less what I could have learned from the website, but it sunk in much more coming from Amanda in her farm stand.

She said that Organic Valley is a milk cooperative that supports small farmers. They have a higher standards than the US for certified organic milk and that all animals have to be on a primarily pastured diet. Also that there philosophy is based on regionalism – so the coops only collect milk within a region.

She sells her milk to individuals for about $5 a gallon on milk days. When I told her about how much I was paying for my grass-fed milk in New York City, she said “That’s highway robbery.”

She also said that Organic Valley supplies the milk for Whole Foods organic milk and that they also supplied Stonybrook Farms milk and yogurt, too. She pointed to this chart which I had downloaded from the Cornocupia Institute a while ago and had planned on posting:

This chart shows the Organic Industry July 2007 Structure: Private Label Brands Phil Howard, Assistant Professor Dept. of Community, Agriculture, Recreation and Resource Studies Michigan State University. Via the Cornucopia Institute


When I asked Amanda why Organic Valley didn’t advertise their milk as grass-fed, she thought for a moment. Then she scribbled something in her notebook and said that she would talk to them.

Even though I left without any milk, I was excited. If Organic Valley was grass-fed milk, it was going to make my life much easier. And if Whole Food Organic Milk was defacto grass-fed – well, that was too good to be true. Maybe all this strum and drang to get $14/gallon milk from the farmer’s market was overkill.

Back home, I did some research. I went to the Stonyfield Farm website and called a number on the site to ask for more information. A man from Organic Valley answered. He was very forthcoming and gave me a lot of no-nonsense information. (And, as someone who works in marketing knows, it helped that he sounded a lot like a farmer.)

He said that in the winter if the cows eat hay, or put up grass, there’s not as much nutrition as the live grass in a pasture. I’ve now heard that from several farmers – that in the winter they sometimes need to supplement the cow’s diet in order for the cows to get their proteins and vitamins in the winter.

He also said that philosophically Organic Valley tries to sell milk as local as they can. But if there’s a high demand, they do what they can to meet that demand. So for example, if you buy Organic Valley in New York City the milk could come from as far away as North Carolina or even Indiana. Growing grass-fed milk was difficult he said and directed me realmilk.com or eatwild.com to find out where to buy milk or meat from 100% grass-fed animals good resources.

He also said that the average herd size of an Organic Valley farms is 70 cows. And they’ve tightened the standards so that cows have to be on pasture every day. Basically, the cows have to be out-of-doors weather permitting.

But in terms of Whole Foods, it’s not exactly true that Organic Valley supplies their organic milk. He said that Whole Foods has slapped a confidentiality agreement on their organic milk so nobody knows exactly who is supplying their milk. However, according to the Cornucopia Institute Dairy Report Card:

“The milk is produced and distributed regionally throughout the United States as close as possible to the communities in which it is sold. It comes from a cooperative of organic family farmers dedicated to pasture-based dairy production and to preserving and expanding family farming as a way of life and a viable system of production.”

But if that cooperative of organic family farmers is Organic Valley, I can’t be sure.

How much grass-fed is good enough? That’s a good question.

For me, the reason I want my kids to drink grass-fed milk is because milk from pastured cows also contains an ideal ratio of essential fatty acids or EFAs —omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids.

According to Jo Robinson in an essay on Super Healthy Milk grass-fed milk has the best balance of these two EFAs. She explains:

“Studies suggest that if your diet contains roughly equal amounts of these two fats, you will have a lower risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, autoimmune disorders, allergies, obesity, diabetes, dementia, and various other mental disorders”.[2]

The more grass the cow eats, the better the balance between the two types of fatty acid.

Then is a  70/30 ratio terrible? And how much better is 100 percent grass-fed? I can’t be sure. Neither Jo’s article or the man from Organic Valley could tell me for sure.

“They haven’t done enough studies,” he said.

So back to the college student in Tennessee. I searched around for the Homestead Creamery and found that they are also in that grey zone of mostly grass-fed.

I found this video on You Tube via Whole Foods.com.

Apparently Homestead Creamery milk is not 100 percent grass-fed, but according to the video they pasture their animals and feed them grain they grow themselves. How much of each they don’t say. However since their dairy is in Virginia the growing season, and therefore pasture time, should be longer.

Homestead Creamery claims that they bottle their milk quickly so if can go from cow to store in a day. I presume the idea is that it’s fresher. And they also say that milk in the glass bottles taste better because there’s no plastic taste. I think that’s subjective.

But more important is that they claim that studies have shown one glass bottle takes the place of about 40 milk jugs from going into the landfill. That seems pretty significant.

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A prospering farmer's market thrives in this bleak parking lot.

John hopped on a flight Friday night. He was supposed to land in the Tri-Cities Airport at around 11:30 pm. Unfortunately, the plane was held up in Charlotte NC. So on Saturday instead of going to the Boone, North Carolina’s Farmer’s Market, we ended up back at the airport in the morning. Afterwards, we stopped by the Farmer’s Market in Kingsport, Tennessee.

By the time we showed up at noon, things were winding down. The market is held in the parking lot of the Quebeccor building across the street from the Domtar paper mill. One of the farmers told me that the Quebeccor used to be a printer and that when he was a kid, the mill would make the paper and the press across the street would use it. Now the abandoned parking lot was the home of the Kingsport Farmer’s Market.

This was not Union Square. Nestled between the abandoned factory and the big white monolith of the paper mill, it was sparse and empty, a  post apocalyptic eeriness.  A church group was selling concessions at a stand at the front and one of the farmers listed a bible verse on his chalk board. And several of the farmers were smoking long thin cigarettes.

It was hot as we walked up and down the middle of the parking lot between the two rows of vendors.

When I asked the farmers if they sprayed, most answered, “not if I need to.” A few said, “no” quickly and diverted their eyes. I knew they weren’t telling the truth. As one farmer told John, “Everyone here says they don’t spray but if their crops are in danger, they will.”

There weren’t any eggs or dairy but there were several people selling meat: beef, lamb and pork. I was tempted to buy some sausage or ham – afterall we are in the south, but instead we bought about 5 lbs of ground beef from a man who told me that his cows were mostly grass-fed.

“We only use a bit of grain to coax them into the barn at night.”

At 2.50 /lb it was also a bargain.

We bought pounds of a type of snap beans that were large and meaty, a cross between a fave bean and haricot vert with a texture and flavor that was . We picked up a watermelon from a man with a truck for $4.

“That’s a yellow one,” the man said. We told him it was fine with us. Tonight when we cut into it, the flesh was the deep yellow-orange of  marigold. Up close, the pattern of the veins appeared as four symmetrical swirls. It’s sweetness had more dimension than traditional normal red watermelon. Even the seeds were pretty — a mottle brown like a tigers eye.

When it comes to heirlooms, every tomato tells a story.

The most exciting thing for me was that the market was filled with heirloom tomatoes. Heirloom vegetables are the variety of vegetables that were grown before mass-produced produce became the norm. In the old days, seeds were passed down from generation to generation — like a family recipe but for your garden.  Heirlooms don’t always look the like conventional vegetables. So, for example, heirloom tomatoes are not always red. They can be yellow or orange, or even purple or brown. And they don’t even have to be round.

Because they come in more sizes, shapes and colors than their iconic supermarket cousins,  heirloom vegetables are attention-grabbing. And although there’s nothing that says summer like a slab of a Jersey beefsteak red tomato, these heirlooms have a whole range of  subtle differences in flavor. As I went from stand to stand and talked to these heirloom tomato grower connoisseurs there much discussion of acidity and tomato-y flavor.

Clearly these farmers had a sophisticated tomato palate.

I scored a gorgeous bounty of Heirloom tomatoes from a tall, thin guy with a mop of crazy black hair and fierce eyes named Josh Falin who was clearing out his tomatoes for 50 cents a pound. My big bag included a bunch of Cherokee Purples, German Pinks, and Mr Stripeys. I also got at least one that was shaped like a pear. “Everyone says they want organic,” he said, “but then when they see the bug holes they don’t want to buy.” Josh told me that his father, Darrell Falin, whose stand was right next door made amazing pickles. Apparently his pickles were featured several times in Bon Appétit and he used to sell pickles to Johnny Cash. Unfortunately he was already sold out.

Josh told me that he’d gotten his sees for the Cherokee Purples from a man who’d gotten it from a Cherokee. In honor of the heirloom tradition, I’m going to try to save the seeds. (This article on the Daily Green, tells you how: ) Then if I manage to grow these southern belles on my Northern fire escape, I’ll be able to say I got the seeds from a man who’s dad sold pickles to Johnny Cash.

WTF’s I learned while I was researching farmers markets:
According to the people at the Bristol TN Farmer’s Market, we’re losing 125 acres of farm and ranch land per hour because spiking fuel prices and the ever-present threat of development are pressuring America’s farmers and ranchers. Ugg. Another reason to shop  farmer’s markets.

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Zane named one of our local tomatoes Tomatoanna Jones. This little red friend who came from an amazing local grocery store called EarthFare went on a bunch of adventures with the kids.

On our way to Tennessee, I bought a bunch of locally grown tomatoes from a gentleman in a town  in Virgina called Damascus. I asked him if he knew where I could buy eggs and he made a phone call to a friend. Unfortunately his friend was out of eggs. I was worried. I’d tried to do my research before we left, but the farmers markets I’d found on-line were on Saturdays. We arrived on Sunday. I thought I would find farm stands along the way. No luck.

Boone, North Carolina is the closest large town. Our next door neighbor promised that I’d find a lot of organic produce at a supermarket called EarthFare. She was more than right. EarthFare is an amazing grocery store. philosophically, they were very in line with where I am right now. In fact, they claim that they only sell meat and dairy that has been humanely treated. Here’s what No Inhumane treatment means to EarthFare. In addition to buying local produce, buying humanely non-industrial meat and dairy has been at the top of my list.  I bought bacon for the first time in months.

My niece Emily told me that she and Tomatoanna Jones fought a black bear, a mountain lion, and a bobcat -- all before lunch.

I also loved that they labelled what was local. I was able to buy local, organic Vidalia onions, cucumbers and  of course tomatoes. Plus the prices were really great — from produce to dairy to bulk grains and flours.

Tomatoanna Jones went for a dip in Lake Watauga before he joined us for dinner.

I think we even bought  enough tomatoes to make gazpacho — a normal summer staple that I haven’t made yet this summer. Sorry, Tomatoanna Jones. Today may have been your last adventure.

For a quick overview of organic labeling and the basics of why you might want to eat and buy organic, check out this video from EarthFare:

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My peaches  it turns our are not organic. According to Dr. Weill I should give them up.
I’m not sure I’m ready.

My CSA share on Tuesday included a big, juicy box of peaches. Organic peaches?
Grown without pesticides? I’m assuming so. But after my talk with the farm
stand DTT veteran last Sunday, I thought it was time to make sure. So last night
I emailed Ted, my  CSA farmer and asked him for his opinion.  Here’s what I

Dear Ted,
I’m a Washington Heights CSA member and I was wondering if you could answer
a question for me or direct me to a resource. I’ve been asking farmers
everywhere I eat and buy about what they’re growing. Several times,
conventional farmers have answered me with, “You can’t grow ____ without
chemical pesticides.”

I had this experience last Sunday when I was upstate around Hudson NY. The
farmer  was referring to plums. Yellow plums much like the ones I had gotten
from you the week before.

He told me two things:

1) In order for stone fruit to grown here in the North East they need to
have fungicides and pesticides applied. It’s because our weather is so damp.
Is that true? Do you do that?

2) Organic farmers use organic pesticides and fungicides by the gallons.
Conventional farmers only use a tiny bit of chemicals, which then biodegrade
within a few days.

I’m obviously skeptical, however, I’m not sure where to research these
questions. I know this is a busy time for you, but if you wouldn’t mind
pointing me in the right direction for some answers I’d be super

Ted wrote the next morning. Before I could even start this post. He said that it was true that stone fruit could not be grown in the North East without some sort of help. Apparently my peaches were not organic — I must have not read the CSA info as carefully as I should. He also said that he didn’t know of any organic stone fruit growers in the Northeast because right now they don’t know how to do it.

“Organic vegetable growers were told they couldn’t grow good vegetables without pesticides, too, but the persistence of growers, the dedication of numerous university researchers, and the commercialization of a handful of effective biorational pesticides has proven them wrong. One day this may also happen in the stone fruit world, but it will be much more difficult because of the high humidity levels here. Organically grown apples are a relatively new thing in the Northeast. It was thought to be impossible on a commercial level. New, pest-resistant varieties and new biorationals helped make that possible.”

I had only recently learned from the documentary of Michal Pollan’s book Botany of Desire, that apples were not native to New York. It was a big surprise to me —  I grew up with an orchard down the road and an apple tree in my backyard. I was pretty surprised to find out that apples were not native.

Ted didn’t know first hand what organic stone fruit growers did use but he had heard that they use quantities of sulfur and copper as fungicides. I’m not sure why the conventional farmers are trying to bad mouth organic pesticides and fungicides. Is it because they feel threatened? Or is there some truth to there being a potential health hazard to organic practices like using  sulfur on fruit. (I’ll add it to my list)

In terms of what fruits can be grown organically, he said: “Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, currants, and gooseberries can and are being grown using organic techniques. Grapes are being experimented with.”

I’ve switched from organic to local apples. And we’ve been eating peaches and nectarines all week. So, it seems I’ve taken a placed a bit of wobbly stake in the ground about buying local over organic. Still,  I don’t feel confident. The environmental working group has quite a few articles on pesticides. I need to read up on them. And I guess the next step is to contact the farm that supplies my CSA fruit and ask what kinds of synthetic pesticides they use and see what they have to say about their place in the dirty dozen. There’s so much to learn. And wait til you hear what the farmer said about milk. Coming soon.

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