Summer is the season for farmer’s markets and many growers say their food is pesticide free as opposed to organic. Is there a big difference?
Summer is a great season to increase your daily intake of fresh produce. A great place to find all those wonderful tasting fruits and vegetables is your local farmer’s market. Not only do you get high quality, wonderful tasting food, but you get it for a very reasonable price. However, in walking through farmer’s markets in my area, I discovered an interesting response most sellers have when asked if their food is organic: “No, but it’s pesticide-free.” What’s the meaning of that?
What Exactly is Organic?
In order to answer that question, it is best to understand what is meant in the produce market when a good is “certified organic.” Essentially, to be certified organic means that the farm producing the produce has been inspected by a neutral third party to ensure that standards for non-use of pesticides, herbicides, and synthetic fertilizers have been met.
However, this does not guarantee that organic produce is entirely free of synthetic materials. Food safety expert Edward Groth writes that residues can still be left in the soil from previous land use, or blow over from other farms. It does mean that such residues will be drastically reduced so as to ensure a safer food product. This still makes organic food worth the buy since the amount of chemicals used on other foods can be incredibly high and potentially destructive.
This can actually mean a variety of things:
1) The food is organic, but the supplier does not want to pay for the costly certification process.
2) Minimal organic pesticide use with residues on the produce (some producers may remove the residues).
3) No synthetic pesticides used, but artificial fertilizers and other non-organic products may have been used in the production process.
Essentially, “pesticide-free” has no set definition, or standards like “certified organic” does. You would have to ask more detailed questions of your produce supplier for more information. Or you check your local farmers market policies. Some require that growing practices be publicized for consumer benefit.
Making the Right Choice
When confronted with summer produce, or any produce for that matter, the consumer has three choices: Organic, pesticide-free, or industrial (produce grown with synthetic materials) with organic being the healthiest choice. Pesticide-free is a second best option, but still far healthier for the consumer as ongoing studies are showing industrially produced fruits and vegetables to be increasingly contaminated and less nutritious.
So if you are looking to improve your eating habits this summer, stop by the local farmers market and ask sellers if their produce is organic. If it is, great, if pesticide-free you might want to ask some clarifying questions, but you can rest assured that is far higher quality that you could get in a supermarket.
Fruits and Vegetables
Many growers say their food is pesticide free as opposed to organic. To be certified organic means that standards for non-use of pesticides, herbicides, and synthetic fertilizers have been met. Pesticide residues can still be left in the soil from previous land use, or blow over from other farms. If you want to make changes to the way you eat this summer, stop by the local farmers market and ask sellers if their produce is organic. The consumer has three choices:.
Organic, pesticide-free, or industrial (produce grown with synthetic materials). Pesticide-free is a second best option, but still far healthier for the consumer.