Sitting at my favourite coffee shop the other day, talk of organic food came up.
It started with mention that the sign for an organic food market was still hanging in a local strip mall window, but there hadn’t been many whispers going around when it might open.
There was also the question brought about just how large a market there is for organic foods in a city such as Yorkton which is still relatively closely grounded in its agrarian roots.
Certainly there is growing interest in what we eat, but for most that does not mean a ‘must-have’ commitment to buy only organic fare.
That said major food retailers have obviously seen the trending interest in organic foods and now have aisles dedicated to the niche.
The issue of course is what constitutes organic.
National, government verified, standards for organics around the world are rather variable, if they exist at all.
And there is a question about how far one, as a producer, wants to take organic production. Livestock producers in particular face issues such as whether to vaccinate stock, and if an animal is sick do they turn to medications to cure the animal.
Even organic grain producers must face hard choices, such as watching a crop being lost to insects when their neighbours are protecting their crops with insecticides.
From the consumer perspective, the best source of organic is from your own garden where you can ensure exactly what is and isn’t applied to the garden.
In most cases that means using common sense, even for those not dedicated to organics.
I do not recall my parents spraying the garden simply for the sake of spraying. That said when cabbage moths attacked, they would most certainly powder the patch to protect part of the food to be put away for the winter.
If a person has no place to plant a garden, or does not want to get dirt under their fingernails, then dealing with a local producer directly, building rapport and trust, is the best avenue to ensure organic food is on the table.
In my own case I do understand being concerned about what we eat. Goodness knows a look at the list of additives in many processed foods is enough to raise questions, without even thinking about what a farmer did to the crop to grow it.
But therein lies the conundrum for someone like me.
I get the want for safe food, and that too many chemicals might be reason for concern.
Then I shower and ready myself for work using shampoo, rinse, body wash, aftershave, cologne, toothpaste, mouthwash, antiperspirant and wonder what exactly is in each one I apply to my skin daily. If I were a woman the list would include a much longer list of beauty products.
We also are quick to down athletic rehydration drinks, drinks that keep us awake by ‘giving us wings’, and down over the counter medicines for every headache, muscle strain, and cough we have.
That is not to suggest these products are not safe, but they are not safer than the wheat grown on a Canadian farm either.
Health awareness is a good thing, but it does not need to completely determine everything we eat, or how it is reasonably produced.
Calvin Daniels is Assistant Editor with Yorkton This Week.