Georgia Magazine - April 2010 - (Page 42)

Simple flavors Cooking with organics BY JANE F. GARVEY R obbie Graham of Oaktree Farm in Jacksonville went to a seminar on growing organic food to learn how to do it. She was surprised at the content, because none of it was new to her. “I realized I’d been growing organically all my life,” she says of the methods she learned as a young woman from her farming family members. With 307 acres (although not all are planted), Robbie and her husband, Hilton, grow exquisite strawberries early in the season and other photo-perfect produce. They sell it at the farmers market in Forsyth Park and selected discerning restaurants in Savannah. Indeed, organic farming is the way folks farmed until about the mid-20th century, and, even then, much farming mixed organic methods with chemical ones. Farmers used DDT on plants and chemical herbicides without realizing their impact on the environment. Then things changed. With the publication in 1962 of Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring,” the public began to express concerns about the environmental effects of pesticides and herbicides. Ten years later, DDT was banned in the U.S. Controversial even before it hit the shelves, the book continues to inspire argument, but not among advocates for organically grown produce, however, for they have convinced consumers that it’s better for you. Now, you can find organic produce not only in healthfocused stores and fancy grocery stores, but also in conventional supermarket chains. Walker Organic Farms in Sylvania and Crystal Organic Farm in Newborn are just two of the farms in Georgia that produce beautiful asparagus.When shopping for green asparagus, look for tight, dark purple heads. The United States Department of Agriculture strictly governs the rules for labeling food organic. Products that display the circular green-and-white USDA/ORGANIC label must be 95 percent organic. Acquiring that certification requires the completion of an expensive process, one of the reasons why organically labeled food costs more than conventionally produced goods. A food may be 100 percent organic, but, in that case, every aspect of its production, from fertilizers to anything used for weed or insect control, must be organic as well. A product may say “made with organic ingredients,” but that item may not carry the USDA organic label. Products labeled “all natural” or “natural” have not passed the organic test for one reason or another, perhaps only having to do with the associated cost of obtaining the certification, but still may meet many of the criteria. How do conventional versus organic foods differ in nutritional content? Holding constant the amount of time that passes between field and plate, probably not much. Whether you consume organically raised fruits and vegetables or conventionally raised foods, if you get produce home and eat it immediately after it’s harvested, the nutritional quality is at its peak. Organically produced food that’s trucked across the country (thus leaving a larger carbon footprint) will lose nutritional value as rapidly as one produced conventionally. Conclusion? Buy locally grown, organically produced food. But this may be a nutritional advantage to organic produce: Since organic produce isn’t grown using herbicides or pesticides, it’s safer to eat the peelings, and that’s where the lion’s share of the nutrients lie. Fruits and vegetables that have been sprayed with chemicals probably should be peeled, not just washed, before being eaten. So you get more nutritional bang for your buck with organic food. Organic food, as it’s not allowed to be waxed, may not last as long as conventionally produced food, a second reason why you should purchase what can be consumed in a few days. GEORGIA MAGAZINE 42 KELLY CLINE

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Georgia Magazine - April 2010

Georgia Magazine - April 2010
Picture This?
Georgia News
Special Energy Report
Major League Fun at the "Minors"
Remarkable Rivers
Southern Graces
Around Georgia
My Georgia
Georgia Gardens
Georgia Cooks
Cookbook of the Month

Georgia Magazine - April 2010