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Posts Tagged ‘Peaches’

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
wrote:

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
appreciative.

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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