Monday, November 17, 2008

A Doubting Thomas

I've been feeling very busy lately, running around doing too many things in too short a time. Yesterday, my family and I went to the grocery store at 5 o'clock in the afternoon, when everyone else was there, too. It was a madhouse, and they were out of many things and I felt both overwhelmed and underwhelmed at the same time. I usually shop midday, when the stores are pretty empty, and I can take my time to compare products and go back for things I forgot in other aisles and answer the kids' questions. But yesterday, I was rushed and frustrated.

Namely, the apples were bothering me. I know from research that apples are one of the important fruits to get organic, if possible, because of the pesticides used on them. But, Keja and I have made a commitment to try to get as much locally produced food as possible. The apple selection at Whole Foods yesterday consisted of organic apples from New Zealand and Washington State, or locally grown apples that were not organic. What to do? I don't know the answer. I looked at my two kids and picked the organic ones, but I don't know if that was the right choice. Washington is a long way away, and New Zealand is half the world away. Who knows when those apples were picked, and I can only imagine the fossil fuels that went into their travel to my grocery store. So this is my rant. My post full of self-doubt and questions. If someone has an opinion, I'd love to hear it.


maamypatom said...

First of all, don't kick yourself too hard for the choice you made. Remember the 80% rule: If you get it right 80% of the time, you're doing just fine. the problem may not be that there are no locally grown organic apples, it may be that they are not carried at the store where you were shopping. Time for some research as to where you can get local pesticide free apples (if not totally organic, at least without the worst of the poisons) and if it is not easy to go there regularly, apples store pretty well, especially if you have an unheated cellar. When you find a good source, buy a case!

I looked on and found this series of thoughts:

"Talk to the farmers at your nearby farmer's market. They may not be labeled organic but many of them , while not certified organic, either use no or little pesticides. If you want actual organic though Whole Foods seems to have a reliably steady supply of certified organic fruits.

Carlson Orchards, in Harvard MA, supplies organic cider to Whole Foods, so some of their crop must be organic. I usually get their cider at Roche Bros. or Lucci's, and that is not marked organic. The time I picked it up at WFM I didn't notice the organic label till I got home. They have peaches, nectarines, and blueberries in the fall - I don't know the production particulars.

It's difficult, and therefore expensive, to grow organic orchard fruit -- apples and peaches are beset by many pests and diseases. There are a few out there, though, such as
"Old Frog Pond Farm
Linda Hoffman
38 Eldridge Road
Harvard, MA
978 456-9616
Pick your own certified organic apples and rasberries.Open late August through Columbus Day. Please check our website for farm hours."

For buying in stores, Harvest Coop and Whole Foods are probably your best bet.

Organic cider is easier because the blemished apples are crushed, not sold whole.

I don't have a car so my farmer's market experience may not be in areas most near you, I tend to hit Davis Sq, Arlington, Copley and Brookline, mostly Davis and Arlington.
Brookline is my favorite, if you haven't been it's a lot of fun and your son would enjoy all the sights as well!
...for organic veggies I like:
Middle Earth Farm (Brookline and Newton, his veggies are the best and a really nice guy)
Blue Heron Farm (Davis Sq)
Enterprise (Brookline, Davis Sq)
Grateful Farm (Arlington)

For fruit, I haven't seen "certified organic" growers, but Kimball Fruit Farm advertises "low Spray" as does Nicewicz. Both are at all the markets I have been to.

I seem to remember that Marino Lookout Farm ("you pick") was organic. It is under new ownership and I have not been there recently but I think several years ago the whole orchard was organic, and they had asian pears, apples, peaches, nectarines....pricey but good, and very kid-oriented.
Another "you pick" farm that I think uses low-spray methods is Cider Hill Farm in Amesbury, Ma. They have peaches, berries, apples. Another fun place for kids..."

maamypatom said...

I just read your earlier piece on apples, and see you know about some of the places mentioned in the chowhound post--so it looks like it is more a question of what to do when you can't get to those places. With apples, for me it would be organic, hands down.