Photo: Farmers Markets where we’ve seen organic produce include Oakland’s Sunday Certified Farmers Market at Jack London Square (shown).
California leads the way in organic produce and sales, but for the average guy or gal, you’re not necessarily going to find an abundance of organic foods at your local Farmers Market. Only 7% of California organic growers sell their foods direct to the public at roadside stands, U-pick operations and outdoor markets. The majority of organic growers, roughly 81%, sell to wholesalers. 75% of sales to wholesalers are made to a processor, distributor, wholesaler, or broker. 25% are sold to retail chain buyers, other farms, or grower cooperatives.
California produces more than 90% of all U.S. organic sales for over 10 commodities:
Wouldn’t common sense tell you that you’d rather eat organically grown foods? Would you rather offer your child a strawberry laced with insecticide in its very cell membranes, or the non insecticide berry with a few spots and blemishes and no chemicals? If you don’t know what “organic” means, then the concept of buying organic products may not make sense (or cents).
There is a federal organic agency operated by the USDA (US Dep’t. of Agriculture) but those who participate in its programs say that guidelines are fuzzy, the promotions weak, and there’s not much to sink your organic apple bite into. From a financial perspective, the USDA has little incentive to promote “organic”. Their lobbyists and interests primarily involve ConAgra and other conglomerates that look at food as commodities and not as healthy, life-sustaining products.
Organic definition: The USDA defines “organic” as: Organic meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products come from animals that are given no antibiotics or growth hormones. Organic food is produced without using most conventional pesticides; fertilizers made with synthetic ingredients or sewage sludge; bioengineering; or ionizing radiation. Before a product can be labeled “organic,” a Government-approved certifier inspects the farm where the food is grown to make sure the farmer is following all the rules necessary to meet USDA organic standards. Companies that handle or process organic food before it gets to your local supermarket or restaurant must be certified, too.
The organic movement has taken root in California and the state has become the leader in organically grown food and crops. The growers have even created their own program to try to move forward with something that organic farmers and the public wants. It’s a grass-roots movement to get to healthy, sustainable living, but the effort takes time.
California organic, support the cause, but don’t be mislead: