This report in the San Diego Union-Tribune examines the differences between the foods grown at small, local, organic farms and conventional food shipped in from another city or another country. The local food has stronger colors and aromas, and tastes better as well.
There are more than 5,000 local farms in San Diego County, which generated $1.4 billion in business in 2004. Most (92 percent) of the farms are family-owned, and 63 percent are smaller than 10 acres in size.
More than 300 of the farms are organic. A farmer interviewed for the article emphasized the importance of starting with good soil; he uses a mixture of "compost tea" that includes water, compost and molasses poured onto his crops to feed them nutrients.
The customers of small local farms include restaurants, farmers' market patrons, and dedicated customers who purchase the food through a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program, in which the food is bought directly from the farm.
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Although small organic farming is especially hard work, organic farmers enjoy all the health advantages of eating, tasting and even smelling the best food in the world: their own.
Eating organic food is a powerful way to ensure that your food has not been genetically modified and will optimize your health. Also:
The result? Conventionally grown food is often tainted with chemical residues, which can be harmful. Pesticides can have many negative influences on your health, including neurotoxicity, disruption of your endocrine system, carcinogenicity and immune system suppression. Pesticide exposure may also affect male reproductive function and has been linked to miscarriages in women.
Additionally, conventional produce tends to have fewer nutrients than organic produce. On average, conventional produce has only 83 percent of the nutrients of organic produce. Studies have found significantly higher levels of nutrients such as vitamin C, iron, magnesium and phosphorus, and significantly less nitrates (a toxin) in organic crops.
Demand is high for organic foods these days, but a problem many people have with organic food is the expense. However, a diet based on whole organic foods does not have to be cost-prohibitive for the average family or single consumer. One way to keep costs down is to visit farmers' markets and use Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs.
Another advantage of doing this is that, when you buy local food, it is fresher since it did not have to be transported many pointless miles to get to you. This improves both its health value and its taste.
If you're on the lookout for fresher, more natural sources of raw foods or more reasons why you should stay away from substandard, cheap factory food, I urge you to review my newest resource page, supporting the great need for sustainable agriculture with many links.