Getting the dirt on "organic"
FULTON - With holidays around the corner, grocery stores are seeing more people come in to stock up.
Farmers and institutions are meeting up in Kansas City for a KC Healthy Kids meeting regarding their “Carrot Gold” program.
Kim Harrison, of Harrison Family Farms in Fulton, is representing the agriculture community from Mid-Missouri at the coalition meeting.
She said KC Healthy Kids is “actively involved with getting institutions, school, hospitals, restaurants, to commit to at least a ten percent purchase of local foods.”
One of their topics of discussion Monday is organic food and how it’s produced.
“Organic is a part of having better, healthier, more nutritious food available to a wider group of people,” Harrison said.
However, Harrison said sometimes people are unaware of how organic products are labeled.
Some organic foods are grown through hydroponics or aquaponics. Hydroponics is when vegetables are grown without soil, in trays of nutrient solution. Aquaponics is the combination of aquaculture (snails, fish, crawfish, etc.) with hydroponics, according to the Aquaponic Source.
Therefore, not every organic item is grown out in a field with soil.
“There’s so many layers and there’s so many political impacts on what can be defined as organic,” Harrison said. “The best thing to do is to find avenues to educate."
Clover's is an example of a Mid-Missouri store that uses the "farm to table" mentality and has for years.
Sidonie Burton, a Clover's customer and former organic farmer, said one of the biggest ways to support the organic industry is by spending that extra dollar on organic greens. When government money falls short, it's nice to have local support, she said.
"Legislation here is not friendly to organic growers in the same manner that it is in other states like Maine and California,” Burton said.
Despite the expensive cost, Burton and Harrison both said the long term effects of eating organic are overwhelmingly beneficial.
“Yes, it does cost more to put an organic item into the shopping cart but the health benefits that a result of consistently eating food with less chemicals has an absolutely document-able cost savings as far as healthcare,” Harrison said.
Aside from health, eating organic has other benefits as well in Burton's eyes.
"I think it's important for everyone. From the point of view of environment, from the point of view of the local monetary system, from the point of view of how it impacts employment,” Burton said.
For people interested in buying organic food, Harrison recommends searching for local or regional sources where you can look at the website and talk to the farmer.
“What they’re producing, they’re feeding their family and sharing with you,” she said.