Monday, May 28, 2007

Listen to the Farmer

He Knows

I was mossing around the site this morning--I need the Plapps to send me to a source for more of their corn meal, we just ran out--and I found these bright words from David Cleverdon, who runs the Kinnikinnick Farm:
A lot of things, besides whether something is termed “organic” or not, should go into our decisions about the food we purchase. Who grew it? Was it grown locally? How far has it been shipped? Is it any good? How much does it cost? Is it seasonal? My rule of thumb is that I will buy organic food if it is demonstrably better and not too much more expensive. And preferably local. Organic milk, for example. I love organic milk. It comes from Wisconsin. It tastes so much better that I can’t imagine ever buying conventionally produced milk again. We use the same philosophy when it comes to what we produce. We want everything we grow and sell to be clearly superior in taste, texture, color, etc. than its conventional counterpart.

I know all the stuff about organic crops being nutritionally superior and organic production being better for the planet. On balance, I think that’s usually true. But if an organic crop is shipped across the country, then I think much of its organic advantage is lost to us all—in terms of energy consumption, handling costs, etc. A lousy tomato grown organically in California and shipped to Chicago is still a lousy tomato.

The bottom line is that if you are concerned about the food you and your family eat, then you should get to know the farmer who produced it. And that means buying locally and seasonally—not just organically. I know a lot of farmers who are not “organic” whose food production I would trust because they are careful growers—careful about how their production practices affect their crops, their workers, their family, their farm, their community, and themselves.
Kinnikinnick produce can be purchased at the Evanston Farmers' Market and Chicago's Green City Market. Not only does his stuff taste delicious, let him know how right he is.

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