• Food with the Farmer’s Face on It

    July 1, 2010

    You know what’s really cool? Eating fresh veggies out of a garden without washing them or worrying about what weird chemicals are on them. It’s also pretty neat when iceberg lettuce has an actual flavor to it! ;-)

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    Amy loves her iceberg lettuce too! :-D

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    I think we all enjoyed picking and eating veggies straight from the gardens at Middle Branch Farm in New Boston, New Hampshire. Middle Branch Farm is owned and operated by Roger Noonan, an organic produce farmer and Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) provider. His farm produces food to about 600 families as well as Stonyfield.

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    For nine years now, Roger’s farm has been certified organic, which means that he doesn’t use any pesticides for pest control on his plants. Instead, his goal is for “the plants to outgrown the weeds.” He explained that he doesn’t need 100% weed control for the veggies to grow well.

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    We tried so many wonderful, flavor-packed vegetables from Roger’s garden, including some more common varieties like summer squash and zucchini, but we also tried some new (at least to me) and interesting ones!

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    Have you ever heard of kohlrabi? It’s a German turnip related to the cabbage. I had never heard of it, let alone tasted it, so I was psyched to give it a try.

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    This variety had a bright purple skin and tasted sort of like cabbage or a stem of broccoli. Rumor has it that Mollie Katzen has an amazing kohlrabi-buffalo sauce recipe. I need to find it! ;-)

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    We also tried Garlic Scapes (pictured below), Rainbow Chard, and Tuscan Kale, which Roger told us is perfect for Kale Chips. The next time I am at a farmers’ market, I’m definitely going to keep my eyes open for this variety of kale.

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    Fun fact: In Japan, CSA is known as “teikei,” which translates to “food with the farmer’s face on it.” Neat, right? It was great getting to know Roger, his family, and his intern, Florence.

    After touring his farm, Roger invited us inside his house for sandwiches, which were made with lettuce and tomato from his garden, a hard-boiled egg from his chickens, and homemade sourdough bread that his wife baked earlier that day. It was outstanding– fresh, flavorful, and nutritious. I felt healthier after eating it!

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    One thing that Roger said during our visit really stuck with me: “I don’t have a lot of money, but I eat well and what else is there to life?” I agree, eating well is very important, but it saddens me that Roger struggles financially, which brings me to why I think it’s important to buy organic when you can.

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    As you know, Stonyfield sponsored my Barnstorming adventures this past weekend. They believe in all things organic, so, of course, they wanted us bloggers to see why it is so important, especially to the farmers who work so hard to produce a quality product. Visiting the various farms and seeing firsthand what goes into organic dairy production and growing organic produce really showed me its value– from how it benefits our health and the environment to how it enhances the lives of the farmers and their animals. Really, the only “bad” part about organic is its cost.

    If you read my other blog, you know I am a total cheapskate. I’m always trying to save money, so I put a lot of thought into how I spend it. With that said, I know not everything I buy from now on will be organic, but I know I will choose organic a lot more often. I’m not going to lie, it’s hard for me to pay more for organic when the conventional option is half of the price. But, now when I buy organic, I will be a lot more confident in my decision because I know how the food was produced, who grew it, and that it’s more nutritious for me. Knowing this makes spending a little extra totally worth it to me. Plus, I am more than willing to save money in other areas of my life– like shopping or dining out less– to benefit my health. My health is important to me, so choosing organic is important to me too.

    What are you thoughts on buying organic? Is it worth the cost?

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    { 86 comments… read them below or add one }

    Laura July 2, 2010 at 1:33 am

    I’m weird about organic produce. i find it too expensive seeing as I eat SOOOOOOOOO much of it. I’m basically vegetarian, I add seafood & chicken 3 times a week or so, meaning I cant afford to buy organic.
    Sorry farmers

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    Lisa (bakebikeblog) July 2, 2010 at 2:06 am

    I try to buy organic wherever I can…however sometimes they can be difficult to sourec so I buy “regular” instead :)

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    Kerri July 2, 2010 at 3:14 am

    I agree with your reasoning. I think it could see it being difficult though if trying to provide meals for a large family. I mean sometimes you get a lot more with non-organic produce.

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    Amanda @ Amanda On Foot July 2, 2010 at 4:09 am

    I’m always hesitant when buying grocery store products that boast about being “organic.” I certainly prefer food that isn’t tainted by chemicals, however, I think the term “organic” has become a buzz word in the food industry and an excuse for food companies to charge more for their product. I always try to do a little research about the product I’m buying and the company it’s coming from before I actually make the purchase.

    ~Amanda

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    Samantha Cernock July 2, 2010 at 5:32 am

    If I can get it organic, then I do. I feel I’m making a choice and casting a vote. On another note, I am so envious of your opportunity to visit all these places Tina. I would to do this!

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    Kimberley July 2, 2010 at 6:33 am

    Eating local and organic produce & dairy is extremely important to us. I know that we are lucky to have the flexibility in our budget to allow for it. Unfortunately, I live in an area where there aren’t a wide variety of options, so I can’t always purchase items within those parameters. However, I won’t buy anything from the “Dirty Dozen” list that isn’t organic. If it’s not available, we don’t eat it.

    My family makes fun of me because I am even more freakish about what we feed our dogs….nothing but the organic best for those pooches. But they are most definitely worth it! And, while it may not be directly attributable, our vet has said that our 8 year old has the health profile of a dog half his age.

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    alexe @ soyaetchocolat July 2, 2010 at 7:01 am

    I would love to buy more fresh organic products but the only ones available at my grocery strore are carrots, celeri, apples and, sometimes, brocoli, avocado and cucumber. Being a vegetarian, I would die of boredom with just 6 types of fruits and vegetables (and I would probably lack some vitamins)… I buy organic carrots and celeri because you can taste the difference but, for the rest, I’m ashamed to say that my pick often goes to the cheapest option. After reading your posts and all the comments about organic farming, I’ll definitely try to buy more from local or or organic farms. Thank you for all of that information! :)

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    Katherine July 2, 2010 at 7:45 am

    I would love to be able to pick my own veggies. I would love to go all-organic. I go for what is on sale usually. I’m definitely going to read some of the other comments here and get some advice. Thanks for yours!

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    Maureen July 2, 2010 at 7:50 am

    It is 100% worth it to me to buy organic. I have a two year old daughter and I would say that 90-95% of what she eats is organic. It concerns me the kinds of pesticides on conventional produce, and the effect they may have on her later in life. So for my husband and I it’s worth it to save in other areas to spend the extra money on good, local organic food.

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    Lindsay @ The Ketchup Diaries July 2, 2010 at 8:09 am

    It’s 100% worth the money. I buy organic on all products that I can for the most part.

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    Erin July 2, 2010 at 8:21 am

    Everything looks so fresh and delicious–I want! I definitely make every effort to buy organic but sometimes it’s a challenge between buying organic and local. One farmer was telling me that he can’t technically call his dairy organic because that means he couldn’t treat a cow that got sick. He has a relatively small farm and wants to treat his cows rather than allow them to be ill — milk from the ill cows isn’t used and they are separated from the herd, but because of this, he can’t use the organic label.

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    Marissa July 2, 2010 at 8:28 am

    I think it is definately worth the money… in theory. But I just don’t physically have the money to spend on it! Buying anything organic is a real treat to me because of all the $$$. And also, I just think buying organic is good for the sake of the animals. I’m not at all concerned about the pesticides or chemicals or what have you that are in normal products… its such a nonissue, I usually don’t even wash my fruit before I eat it!

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    Catherine (FOOD SNOB) July 2, 2010 at 8:36 am

    I buy as much organic as our budget allows — definitely all veggies/fruits on the “dirty dozen” list, plus I try to stick with local/organic and eggs as much as I can. I hit up our Farmer’s Market first each week, and then pick up whatever is left on the list at our co-op. I’m a member, so I get monthly coupons, plus a kickback check at the end of the year if it was a profitable year for the co-op. Woo!

    Do you have a co-op near your home? They often have cheaper prices on organic products than the mainstream grocery stores, because they sell a higher volume of these items, have higher turnover, and can thus buy in larger quantities (for better prices from the vendor.) It might be worth your time to price-compare on some items you’d like to buy organic, but don’t feel you can afford right now.

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    Ally @ Sweet & Savory July 2, 2010 at 8:37 am

    It also saddens me that Roger struggles financially, when he is doing so much good for others:) I buy organic as much as I can (esp. fruits and veggies), but we also live on a very strict budget, so it is not always possible….but I try, that is sayin more than some!

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    Tina July 2, 2010 at 8:37 am

    @Catherine (FOOD SNOB): No, I wish so much that I did. They are so great!

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    Haley July 2, 2010 at 8:47 am

    Great thought-provoking post, Tina!

    I work as a volunteer advisor to a graduate student at a farmers’ market here in Philly. We organize and implement weekly educational programs for the customers of the market, and one exercise we did was comparing the price of farmers’ market produce to the produce sold in grocery stores around here. All items at the market either cost the same or less than what was sold in grocery stores. I guess it depends on where you live, but there are other factors involved in the cost of organic produce as well.

    In order for a farm to be certified organic, they must pay a lot of money to become and stay certified. Many farms just simply do not have the money to fund that type of certification, but still sell organic produce. Other farms are known as IPM farms, which stands for Internal Pesticide Maintenance. This means they will only use pesticides when necessary, and the methods are usually organic and safe for humans and the environment.

    My advice is to just ask the farmer next time you’re at a stand, I know they’d be glad to tell you what methods they use and how they run their farm!

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    A @ Please Don't Eat Me! July 2, 2010 at 8:55 am

    looks like everyone is pretty much on the same page! buying organic when they can.. which is what i do. some of my food purchases are organic without me trying, the peanut butter, the gluten-free flours, etc. but veggies? i usually buy frozen.. lol
    i wish i had an unlimited food budget! that would be great :)

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    Sarah (Running to Slow Things Down) July 2, 2010 at 9:00 am

    LOVE Kholrabi! I like to roast it for 25 minutes at 425 F. Just a little sea salt and voila! Perfection. It’s delicious. :D

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    Brittany @ A Healthy Slice of Life July 2, 2010 at 9:00 am

    I buy organic about 85% of the time, unless I need a certain ingredient and they only have it in conventional (blame my less-than-great local grocery stores). I think eating organic is very important. I’ve read too much about the dangers of all the chemicals in our food. I get made fun of for being a “modern day hippie”, but whatevs ;)

    PS- that German turnip is scary looking!! Like a gremlin :)

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    Annie@stronghealthyfit July 2, 2010 at 9:05 am

    Yup, definitely worth it. I buy organic if it’s available. If it’s too expensive, I choose not to buy it, but don’t buy the conventional version either.

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    Dana July 2, 2010 at 9:14 am

    Always try to buy Organic if I can!

    Love Amy’s shirt, ahh so CUTE!

    Dana xo
    http://happinessiswithin.wordpress.com/

    Reply

    Rhea July 2, 2010 at 9:20 am

    Hi Tina,

    I really enjoyed this post. I have always had a bad attitude about organic foods because it seemed to elitist and inaccessible. My mom and I were on food stamps when I was growing up so eating organic foods were not in our price range. The push for natural and organic foods recently has bothered me, because even though I can afford to buy organic produce here and there, I understand that many people can’t; I get the feeling that these people are vilified for not supporting a healthy, environmental movement, even though they simply can’t afford it. However, in the past few months, I’ve been doing some reading and I’ve been making the effort to buy organic when I can. I like the idea that we can vote with our dollar, so if we pitch in for organic foods, the price will go down and the goods will be available to more people. Reading about Roger and his family solidified my choice to vote with my dollar and help a farmer making good food to share with us. Also, it was so kind of them to make the sandwiches for you guys, that’s so cute!
    I hope this made sense… I am only on my first cup of coffee and I’m tackling a big, big issue.

    Reply

    Rhea July 2, 2010 at 9:21 am

    Hi Tina,

    I really enjoyed this post. I have always had a bad attitude about organic foods because it seemed to elitist and inaccessible. My mom and I were on food stamps when I was growing up so eating organic foods were not in our price range. The push for natural and organic foods recently has bothered me, because even though I can afford to buy organic produce here and there, I understand that many people can’t; I get the feeling that these people are vilified for not supporting a healthy, environmental movement, even though they simply can’t afford it. However, in the past few months, I’ve been doing some reading and I’ve been making the effort to buy organic when I can. I like the idea that we can vote with our dollar, so if we pitch in for organic foods, the price will go down and the goods will be available to more people. Reading about Roger and his family solidified my choice to vote with my dollar and help a farmer making good food to share with us. Also, it was so kind of them to make the sandwiches for you guys, that’s so cute!
    I hope this made sense… I am only on my first cup of coffee and I’m tackling a big, big issue. :D

    Reply

    Lauren @ Running Examiner July 2, 2010 at 9:23 am

    I do think buying organic is worth the price, for all the reasons you outlined. I gradually shifted over to buying all-organic produce and eggs (sometimes dairy), and I feel really good knowing that I’m eating food that a) is healthy and pesticide-free, b) didn’t impose harm upon the environment, and c) benefits those who grew it.

    Interestingly, my favorite (and most conveniently located) grocery store is entirely organic, so I don’t really get another choice but to buy organic :)

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    Tamizn July 2, 2010 at 9:26 am

    We grow kohlrabi in our garden and I love it! Raw and steamed are best yummy! x x

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    Mary July 2, 2010 at 9:26 am

    I purchase local and organic, I think it’s important not just for my health but for our local economy and for the health of the earth. We use way too many chemicals and they all go downstream.

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    Jen July 2, 2010 at 9:35 am

    Awesome post! It makes people think. To me, buying organic is extremely important. It is more important to me to be part of a CSA and buy other organic products due to the benefits that it gives the organic farmers. That is most important to me. I don’t make a lot of money and am not able to save a ton, but my choice is to choose organic over eating out and shopping. If I have a tight month, then I do pick and choose (as I am sure everyone does). I always always always buy certain things organic – dairy and fruits and veggies that conventionally are sprayed with tons of pesticides. Organic is better for us and for our environment! Join a CSA – you help the farmers and save A TON of money in the process. I am spending 1/2 of what I used to per week on produce!

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    Jen July 2, 2010 at 9:37 am

    Awesome post! It makes people think. To me, buying organic is extremely important. It is more important to me to be part of a CSA and buy other organic products due to the benefits that it gives the organic farmers than shopping or eating out. Sometimes, due to my budget, I need to pick and choose, but I always buy organic dairy and certain produce that conventionally are sprayed with tons of pesticides. Organic is better for us and for our environment! And, even if you pick and choose what you buy organic, every little bit helps! Join a CSA – you help the farmers and save A TON of money in the process. I am spending 1/2 of what I used to per week on produce!

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    Jen July 2, 2010 at 9:39 am

    Oopps…sorry, that posted twice for some reason…

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    Sarah July 2, 2010 at 9:53 am

    I like to think that I’m “donating” to the earth when I buy organic. Just by making that decision, I am supporting more sustainable farming methods, supporting people who are also committed to that idea, supporting wildlife (such as bees, butterflies, and other insects). Instead of simply contributing money to an environmental organization, I buy organic and reap the benefits while helping others at the same time.

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    jenna July 2, 2010 at 10:14 am

    i think its very important to buy local! Even if it does not state ‘organic’ on it. As far as buying organic for it’s hard especially for people on a tight budget..you need to watch for sales b/c often times you can get organic for a reasonable price.

    i’ve really enjoyed your barnstorming posts!

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    Finn July 2, 2010 at 10:17 am

    As a number of people here have said, “organic” doesn’t necessarily make a product better than “conventional.” Like it or not, you have to make a product-by-product judgment when you purchase goods.

    It’s a tired metaphor, but every time you act as a consumer, you cast a vote on how you think the world should be. If you purchase products that were grown with chemical pesticides and fertilizers, that were grown on lands where rainforests once stood, that were grown by fuel- and water-intensive methods, you’re essentially saying “this is the sort of world I want to support.”

    It’s your right to vote for that sort of destructive behavior, but if and when you do, don’t make excuses about it. We all make the world.

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    Holly July 2, 2010 at 10:33 am

    I’ve really enjoyed the photos/information from your barnstorming trip. Right now I am reading Michael Pollan’s “In Defense of Food” (which I totally recommend.) Between his book, my own research and now the info you have shared I am 100% convinced that organic is worth the extra cost.

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    Therese July 2, 2010 at 11:08 am

    I have been curious ever since Stonyfield started making Greek yogurt. You may not know the answer, but I thought I’d still ask. You mentioned the Greek yogurt was made in a different plant than the regular yogurt. At home when you make Greek yogurt, you basically strain the normal yogurt until it’s think enough. Does Stonyfield do that, or do they thicken it with milk powder? Also, if the do strain it, what to do they do with the leftovers? Just curious!

    Reply

    Tricia Kuchler July 2, 2010 at 11:55 am

    My fiance’s uncle converted to all organic foods about two years ago and believes he feels physically better just from eating organic. Right now, I can’t afford it. However, once I find a full-time job again, I think we could jump on the organic bandwagon. I also love the idea of being able to pick your own veggies and be able to eat them right off the vine. My nephew loves to eat tomatoes that way haha :)

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    Jennifer (Savor) July 2, 2010 at 1:28 pm

    I try to buy all of the items on the dirty dozen and milk organically. We also have some all natural farms (are not certified organic as too expensive) that sell at the farmers market so can find some awesome items there. In addition to learning more about your food and their methods, sometimes a price cut follows with an established relationship

    Reply

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