Veggie City 'in the hood'

Veggie City 'in the hood'
Veggie City crew members posing with Veggie Mastermind, Trevor Johnson in front of our newly painted banner! Thank you LIHC youth for creating such an awesome piece of art!

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Eating Better - Organically grown vs. Certified Organic

One of the biggest questions that the Veggie City team has come across is what is the difference between organically grown versus certified organic produce?
What we have learned is, certified organic produce means that a produce farm has applied for and received special certification from the government of Cananda, indicating that the vegetables have been grown without the use of pesticides, synthetics and chemical fertilizers and do not contain genetically modified organisms. The vegetables (and fruits) are not harvested or processed using irradiation, solvents or nasty chemical food additives. Organic food production is a heavily regulated industry, distinct from private gardening. In order for a farmer to label their food as "organic", they must meet all of the regulations and standards set by our government and international organizations.
Organically grown means that farmers (in our case urban 'farmers') make a commitment to grow and harvest vegetables using organic methods, such as using compost that does not contain chemicals or synthetic fertilizers, using seeds and seedlings that have not been genetically modified and by using traditional weeding techniques instead of pesticides. Although we will not have the government certification to label our vegetables "certified organic", our shareholders can be assured that Veggie City is commited to using organic methods of growing and harvesting your vegetables.
So what is the difference between organically grown vegetables and conventional vegetables and what is the benefit of organically grown vegetables?
Conventional vegetables are vegetables that have been grown using synthetic inputs such as pesticides and chemical fertilizers. Genetically modified seeds and seedlings have been produced to withstand certain diseases easier than non-genetically modified seeds. The farmer attempts to control the environment of the plant, so that it is not stressed very easily and can concentrate on growing nice and big, with no diseases to threaten it. The pesticides help to control the environment, so that the plant has a nice and relaxing journey towards full growth. That doesn't sound too bad! But...When a seed is not genetically modified, it must work twice as hard to resist sickness and disease and survive in harsher conditions, therefore, it contains more nutrients and is much healthier for us! Have you ever tasted the biggest strawberries at the grocery store, only to discover that they didn't taste like much? Bigger isn't always better, especially when it comes to things like strawberries and blueberries! Since the conventional vegetables didn't have to work very hard to grow, they lack the nutrients that make them taste as good as they should!
Organic farming and gardening has many more benefits and is less damaging to the environment in the following ways:
- Organic farms do not consume or release pesticides into the environment- some of which have the potential to harm soil, water and local wildlife
- Organic growing is better than conventional growing at sustaining diverse ecosystems (populations of plants and insects, as well as animals)
- Organic farming and growing uses less energy and produces less waste
- Organically grown vegetables tend to have more nutrients than conventionally grown vegetables, and taste better!
Do you have any stories to share with us, or any questions regarding the organic, local, or conventional growing debate? Share your comments with us!

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