Posted by marilynch
Shopping Farmers Markets by Bike–Have you hugged an organic grower today?
Ever frustrated by snarly parking at some farmers markets? Bike there, lock up your bike, stroll the aisles. Too much to carry? That and more are addressed in these sections of the Tips for Bicycling Monterey County guide: “Bike-and-Ride,” “Farmers Markets, ” and “Shopping by Bike.”
Confused by food labeling? See “How can you know if something is really organically grown” below.
Does organic produce matter? It matters a lot! When farmworkers are reminded to shower before hugging their children (see “Kids’ Brains on Pesticides“) and molecular biologists say they’d move if they lived near a farm where methyl iodide was applied, let these be reminders why it’s important to support organic growers.
The info below was originally published 12/28/10, so if you’re a longtime reader, go take a ride! Newcomers, read on….
Photo courtesy of Velo Club Monterey party queen, and strong cyclist, Cath Tendler-Valencia.
Here, there, everywhere: Farmers Markets all over Monterey County!
Broccoflower (pictured above) is one of the many nutritious foods available fresh, locally grown, and for a very reasonable price at our farmers markets. Broccoflower, also called Romanesco or Roman Cauliflower, is–no surprise–a cross between broccoli and cauliflower. A cousin is broccolini (cross between broccoli and kale).
Farmers markets take place at different locations around the county nearly every day of the week. See the “Farmers Markets” section of the Tips for Bicycling Monterey County guide for links to those locations.
Lots of useful info on broccoli and its cousins, and an abundance of other foods, are provided in the book Encyclopedia of Healing Foods by Michael Murray, ND, with Joseph Pizzorono, ND and Lara Pizzorno, MA, LMT (New York: Atria, 2005).
This 912-page book includes history, nutritional highlights, health benefits, how to select, store, and prepare, along with quick serving ideas and safety tips.
When my daughter was homeschooling, we found that looking up the main ingredients of the day’s dinner in Healing Foods was not only interesting, it made us even more grateful for the yummy food we are blessed to eat, and how it nurtures us.
Where I first learned the importance of organically grown food
I’m a farm girl, blessed to have been born on a farm where my father was committed to organic growing methods–before it was called “organic farming.” Some dear friends, including Friends of the Farm founders Bob and Barbara Rowe, reinforced what I’d been taught by my dad, the late Ray Lynch, about the importance of “conservation,” as Dad referred to his beliefs and practices. (Watch a video of Garth Youngberg speaking of these days when very few ag chemicals were used in our common home territory of Central Illinois.)
For Dad, staying with the same practices that served his elder neighbor and friend Emil Kiliman so well, including “not letting the fertilizer dealers sell you on chemicals,” was simply “using the common sense the good Lord gave you.” Just as Dad respected Emil’s judgment, I respected my dad’s; as a result, my own resolve about organically grown food is of longstanding.
Two organic growers I’d love to hug again: the late Ray Lynch and the late Emil Kiliman.
There are many, many good reasons to buy organic, including health of the farm workers, soil, your family, and overall planetary health.
Today’s research supporting yesterday’s common-sense wisdom
Over the years, there has been research supporting that organically grown food is not only free of often toxic pesticides, herbicides, soil fumigants, and fertilizers, organically grown food is higher in nutrients! Even the USDA has acknowledged: “on average, organic foods contain slightly higher levels of trace minerals, vitamin C, and antioxidant phytonutrients than conventionally grown crops.”
Dig deeper into the research, and be sure to do an advanced search where you review the .edu sites, not just any old websites. In even just a very quick search, you’ll turn up research such as this, from the University of California at Davis, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences: “Studies of 27 cultivars of organically grown spinach demonstrate significantly higher levels of flavonoids and vitamin C, and lower levels of nitrates.” From Washington State University, which offers a major in organic agriculture systems: “Organically grown foods generally hold more nutrition value than conventionally grown foods, according to a study co-authored by three WSU researchers. According to the study, organic plant-based foods contain higher levels of eight of 11 nutrients studied, including significantly greater concentrations of the health-promoting polyphenols and antioxidants.” From the University of Hawaii: “Perhaps because of improved soil quality, organically grown crops often contain more vitamins (especially vitamin C), phenolic compounds, and carotenoids than conventionally grown crops.” And, highlighted on an Oregon State University blog, “Nutrient density and secondary plant metabolites (many of which are known to have anti-oxidant properties) tended to be higher in organically-produced foods than in conventionally grown foods.”
[Update: A related metastudy from Stanford University was responded to by Michael Pollan on 9/4/12.]
Buy local, buy organic
Better yet, much of the produce is also organically grown.
How can you know if something is really organically grown? Look for the signs that indicate organic certification by CCOF or other USDA accredited certifying agents in the USDA National Organic Program. (Here is the USDA’s list of accredited domestic organic certifiers.) For more info, see this fact sheet on understanding organic, which describes the various types of labeling.
There are lots of organic growers from the Monterey Bay/Central Coast region who come to the local farmers markets, including:
Blue Heron, Bounty of the Valley, Coke Farms, Farmer and the Dale, Gibson Farms, Happy Boy, Ibarra Cruz, Phil Foster’s Pinnacle Organically Grown Produce, Pinnacle Nut Company, Route One Farms, Serendipity, UCSC, Windmill, and many more.
Add your own favorite organic growers to this post by offering a comment below.
Grow your own
At the Friday 10-2 market at Monterey Peninsula College, I like to stop at Cole Canyon’s stand–Pamela and Steve help you grow your own! For many years, I had a large vegetable garden. More recently, I’d felt too busy, and let most of my gardening go by the wayside, except for some herbs and perennial flowers. Thanks to Cole Canyon’s saving me the step of the seed-starting process–because of the ready availability of their organically nurtured, healthy seedlings–I love being able to step out my office door, onto my back deck, and snip some Asian greens, kale, and lettuce for mealtime.
And, not surprisingly, these dear people also inspired me to start sowing a few more seeds again myself, too!
Like great produce–just want someone else to choose it?
Community Supported Agriculture (CSAs) will have a box of produce all ready for you to pick up. Check this list, courtesy of the City of Monterey, of CSAs serving the Monterey-Salinas area. Also see We Cooperative.
And to satisfy the curiosity…
of people who ask about the unique little baskets I often use for my farmers marketing, here’s a blast from my past! The baskets were originally used to distribute literature for John Kirby, who was a Republican candidate running for state auditor. My dad was a local GOP leader for 35 years, and my mother, siblings, and I often campaigned come election time.