Friday, September 12, 2008

Road trip for Peaches

Why would anyone drive for 2 1/2 hrs in one direction for peaches? In an effort to get as local and organic of peaches that I could find, I grabbed a friend and headed for the Columbia Gorge Organic Produce farm in Hood River, OR. I go every year and get hundreds of dollars of organic white and yellow peaches, apples, pears, and nectarines. I called every fruit stand in my area to find that the same box of peaches would cost about $55! By going to the source, I got the 20 pound boxes for $15/each. Sitting under the majestic gaze of Mt. Hood lies this amazing farm with sustainable practices for the earth that produce fruit that is packed with nutrition. Truly, eating a non-organic peach is worse for you than just not eating it at all for imbedded in the flesh, are about 4 different carcinogenic poisons.

Is organic worth it? Does it matter? My dad always teases me that if it grows, it's organic. Yes, biologist daddy, you are right. But Organic in this sense means so much more. It means it's full of sometimes as much as 75% more nutrients than it's conventionally grown counterpart. That's huge!

  • But, these practices sustain our earth. I talked with Robby one of the owners/farmers at Columbia Gorge Organics who told me that after 19 years of organically farming, their farm now has it's own healthy population of predator insects. Their conventional farmer neighbors are still spending tons of dollars on petroleum based, poisonous pesticides. What this means is the intricate God-ordained balance of plants, insects, birds, mammals, and microbes that surprise farmers even after a lifetime of discoveries as they obeserve their outdoor world are at work on Robby's farm!! These farmers watch cliff swallows eat up leafhoppers and grasshopers and purple martin birds devour crane flies. The reason Columbia Gorge Organics never uses pesticides is because pesticides would KILL their God-given pesticides (these birds and other good predatory insects!). The prosepct of blanketing them all with toxic dust even once, let alone routinely, strikes these farmers as self-destructive, like purposely setting fire to their crops or barn.
Genetic resistance to man-made pesticides is a real evolutionary phenomenon. These resistances get stronger and stronger with each generation of plants. More than 500 species of insect and mites now resist our chemical controls, along with over 150 viruses and other plant pathogens. More than 270 of our recently developed herbicides have now become ineffective for controlling some weeds. Some 300 weed species resist all herbicides. (from Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver, page 165). 20% of these approved for use pesticides are listed by the EPA as carcinogenic in humans.
  • Robby told me how so many neighboring conventional farmers are coming to him with their woes of poor crop yield in complete envy of his gorgeous, abundant trees. See, Robby hasn't destroyed his soil with these pesticides and herbicides that promise to kill and produce good yield. Maybe for the first years farmers feel victorious over the pests, but eventuallly, they are left with complete destruction. Soil in Robby's fields are tested constantly and prove to be rich with nutrients - and the beautiful fruit proves the test results. His neighbors are struggling with more pests then ever, pathetic looking trees, and small yield. The fruit they bear contains poisonous components imbued throughout the flesh of the fruit.

And the death conventional farmers yields is a scarey silence. There are no birds or butterflies flying over their trees. No beneficial predator insects. They have been killed long ago. An estimated 67 million birds die each year from pesticide exposure on U.S. farms (Kingsolver, page 221).

  • Organic produce actually delivers more nutritional bang for the buck. Fruits and veggies grown organically have had to fight off their predators themselves. If noone is spraying chemicals on these plants, these plants can't take off running for their lives. They are stuck in the field without a way to escape, so they have to toughen up by manufacturing their own disease/pest-fighting compounds. That's why organic produces shows significantly higher levels of antioxidants than conventional - these nutritious compounds evolved in the plant not for OUR health, but for the plant's. (Camille Kingsolver, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, Page 170).
Research done by Allison Byrum of the American Chemical Society, have shown fruits and vegetables grown without pesticides and herbicides to contaion 50 to 60 percent more antioxidants thatn their sprayed counterparts. The same antioxidants that fight diseases and pests in the plant leaf work similar magic in the human body, protecting us not so much against hornworms as against various diseases, cell aging, and tumor growth.

  • Buying organic brings you a considerable bigger nutrient bang for your buck and it also brings major environemental benefits.
Organic agriculture, which allows insect predator populations to retain a healthy presence in our fields, breaks the pesticide destructive cycle (Kingsolver, page 165).

Enjoy a yummy, juicy organic peach today!!


Tipper said...

Interesting how the organic practices encourage the native insects to work for the grower!

Randell said...

I miss canning this year!
And the peach and Mt Hood pictures just reminds me more of where I/we desire to be!
I agree Organic is best and after the initial hump of cost is really is not that much more!
Say what book did you quote? Had not heard that name.

jennifer said...

Looks yummy! I love peaches, my dad grew some amazing ones as a child. I never knew this growing up, but he didn't use conventional pesticides. He used all the old practices he learned in his native Appalachia - wish I would have paid more attention and learned about exactly what it was he did.