Sunday, June 3, 2007

Go Organic!

It occurred to me that I hadn't even explained why we're doing an organic patio garden. After all, it is our first time attempting a patio garden. Why give ourselves additional constraints within which to work when we're just trying to get things to grow at all? Then again, maybe the reasons to go organic are obvious. Sometimes it seems like a problem would be easier solved if we just used more conventional methods (e.g., pesticides, herbicides, artificial fertilizer). But I'm a biologist who loves a good field experiment and am up for the challenge!

My Organic Reasons:
  1. No harmful chemicals in food. Seriously, the chemicals used for growing conventional foods are nasty and can cause health problems. Imagine putting something that was sprayed with chemicals to kill an insect (an animal) into your digestive system. Remember you're also an animal. Have you ever looked at a super-shiny apple in the supermarket and been completely disgusted by the amount of wax that must be covering the fruit? Being that I'm the gardener, I especially want to avoid handling such nasty chemicals.
  2. Saves the environment. Where do all those synthetic chemicals sprayed on conventional crops go after a rain? They can't all stick to the target crops and can end up harming non-target wildlife on land, in stream, and in ocean. The pesticides could also harm the beneficial critters helping your garden grow. Considering all the environmental problems facing the world today, I can't see a justification for contributing even just a little bit. As a biologist by day, I love to do even the little things that I can to save the environment. And who doesn't want to do that?
  3. Supports family farms. Okay, so our patio is the family farm in question, but this is why we like to buy organic whenever we can. Yes, many organic products are now getting commercialized and perhaps larger scale. Still many large distributors are supplied by smaller farms. Ultimately, we try to buy local produce at our semi-local farmers' market or local natural food market, even if it's not always organic.
  4. It's natural. What a learning experience about nature! It's great to figure out and observe how natural things can work together to give desired results.
  5. Tastes great. I'm not sure how our garden will turn out, but I hope what they say is true, though I've never seen any statistically supported taste test studies to confirm the claims (the scientist in me talking). I can at least say from experience that the organic tomatoes my father-in-law grows are the best I've ever had. Believe it or not, before eating his tomatoes, I didn't like tomatoes that much. I could take 'em or leave 'em. Now I love a good tomato and am always in search of one.
  6. It's cheaper than store-bought. It's not a reason to go organic because organic food is obviously more expensive in the stores. In fact, prices are so high that we can't afford to buy organic as often as we would like. Given our reasons to go organic and the fact that we are poor, struggling grad-students, we may as well grow our favorite things ourselves and save ourselves the store mark-up.
So, hey, let's all go organic and save the environment and the local family farm!