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ORGANIC PRODUCE IS A BARGAIN

The price of organically grown food reflects the true cost of raisingfood - what it costs for a farmer simply to make a living. This currentU.S. farm crisis, with 35% to 40% of all family farms in foreclosure, isa symptom of our unrealistic agricultural economy. The paymentsfarmers receive for their crops are not enough to cover the cost offarming. These payments have not changed much in the last 15 years,while costs have increased as much as four or five times. Oil, gasoline,agricultural chemicals, food, energy, and the real estate prices as wellas interest rates have all skyrocketed, while farmers still get the samerange of prices for their products! Often, the grower sells the productat a loss.

When we buy lettuce, the grower may receive $2.50 to $3.00 for24 heads. The labor to pick and pack a box of 24 heads is, say,$1.50, and the box itself costs $1.25. What the farmer gets paid mayscarcely cover the picking and packing costs, while costs for planting,cultivation, fertilization, weed, pest, and disease control, machineryupkeep, fuel, seed, and irrigation are not covered at all. No wonderthe farmer's reward is foreclosure.

The prices for organic food are fair in terms of giving the farmer achance to make a living. Organic food practices, in other words, arenot only sustainable agriculturally but also economically. The price wepay for organic food allows the farmer to put more back into the soil,rather than using the fastest and cheapest "fertilizers" (which do theopposite of making the land fertile). The organic matter used byorganic growers brings fertility back to the soil, which had beenneglected by conventional farmers. While the rise of pesticides andsynthetic fertilizers has increased tenfold in the last 40 years, croplosses to insects have doubled. Organic methods, on the other hand,build up the soil, creating stronger, more disease-resistant plants.

That seems fair to me! What good does it do any of us if farmingtechniques turn our once-vital farmlands to empty desert? Given theprice of soil abuse and the price of commercial produce anywhere elsein the world, organic food in America is an incredible bargain.

When we request and buy organic produce, we are lending oursupport to the replenishing of the lands that yield our food. Why wouldanyone want those lands to be depleted? Organic produce is not onlysafe and pesticide -free, but also an investment in our future.

Written by: Marilyn Diamond


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