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Club Chronicles: How do you choose: organic or non-organic food?

Everyone wants the food their families are served to be safe and healthy, as well as maintain a safe environment. Therefore, which do you select – organic or non-organic – when you go to the supermarket?

The term “organic” refers to the way agricultural products are grown and processed. Organic gardening does not use synthetic products like fertilizers and pesticides. It involves the use of only natural products to grow plants.

Before a product can be labeled “organic,” a government-approved certifier inspects the farm where the food is grown to make sure all the necessary rules are being followed to meet USDA organic standards. The government will fine as much as $17,952 each time a product is falsely sold as organic.

Organic farming is big business. The largest organic retailer in the country is Costco, which sold $4 billion organic products in 2017.

Organics are not just for people, either. According to Statista, pet owners spend $6.8 billion on organic food for their dogs and cats in a year.

The pros of organic food are that it contains fewer pesticides, it’s fresher, it’s better for the environment, and organically-raised animals are not given antibiotics, growth hormones or animal byproducts.

The cons of organic food include that it easily goes bad; it’s more expensive; minimal chemicals are allowed; there are no proven additional nutritional or health benefits; high bacteria levels; pesticide contamination; and even low-level pesticides can be harmful.

Organic gardening at home is a personal choice. Here are some suggestions on how to grow your own backyard organic garden:

  • Choose a site with good light. An organic vegetable garden needs at least six to eight hours of sunlight each day. Short on space? Find a sunny spot for a container on your doorstep or deck.
  • Use stellar soil. It saves a lot of headaches to garden in soil that looks and feels like brownie mix.
  • Plant wisely. Choose strong, vibrant young plants that grow well together, including a mix of hybrid and varieties that have some inherent disease-resistance.
  • Water well. Moisture is essential since most organic gardens require at least an inch of water per week and even more when it’s hot outside.
  • Serve nutritious “meals.” Plants constantly pull nutrients from the soil, so replenish them throughout the growing season so your organic garden doesn’t go hungry and start to produce less than its best.

The National Garden Club Inc. encourages clubs and individuals to practice organic gardening not only to benefit their own health but to promote a healthy and safe environment.

Club Chronicles is written by Susie Hovater Malone.