On average, American farmers receive less than twenty cents per dollar for their products. The majority of your food dollar goes to middlemen, such as food brokers, distributors, and retailers. By comparison, when you purchase locally produced food, a much higher return per dollar goes to the farmer. In the case of farmers' markets for example, the farmer receives 100% of each dollar you spend. In addition, when you spend money in your community, it gets spent an average of seven more times inside the community before it's finally spent outside. So, when you buy locally grown produce, you're not only supporting your local farmer, you're also supporting the entire local economy.
A healthy community is the result of millions of decisions made everyday
by the people who live there, and it can be altered by every single
choice they make - even at the grocery store. That's why we have developed
the Marin Organic label - to make it easy for you to identify local
organic products, and support your local farmer and your local economy.
So, the next time you go grocery shopping, ask yourself how much influence
on your local food system and your local economy you want to have, and
look for the Marin Organic label.
Because it's better for you
Time and again, studies have documented the health benefits of organically grown food over non-organically grown food, and not just because of the absence of chemical pesticides and herbicides. Organically grown produce consistently tests higher than non-organically grown foods for vitamins, minerals, and other micronutrients, as well as showing much smaller amounts of nitrates, heavy metals and other contaminants. One of the main reasons for this nutritional discrepancy is that organic soil is much richer in minerals and micronutrients than non-organic soil. This is because non-organic farmers most often fertilize their soil with only three components: nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, whereas organic farmers use a variety of fertilizers including compost, manure and cover crops. And what's not in the soil cannot be absorbed by the plant. So when you buy organic produce you not only get chemical-free food, but you also get all the health benefits that rich, well-managed soil provides.
One more way organic foods are better for your health is that organic producers are not allowed to use any Genetically Modified Organisms or GMOs at any level of their production. This relatively new technology is little understood and inadequately tested to ensure consumer safety. GMO technology inserts genes from one species into another, in an attempt to transfer certain desired traits. For example, the Flavr Savr tomato was created when scientists inserted cold water fish genes into tomatoes to make them more frost-resistant and to give them a longer shelf-life. The consequences of crossing species barriers like this, which is impossible in nature, are unknown, as are the risks to human health and the environment. However, over 70% of all non-organic foods in the U.S. already contain GMOs. So, the only way to limit your exposure to GMO's is by purchasing organic foods whenever possible.
Because it's better for the environment
The foundation of organic agriculture is building and maintaining excellent
soil. Soil management is even a requirement under the National Organic
Program, the Federal Organic Standards released by the USDA in 2002
(for more information go to www.ams.usda.gov/nop).
Plants grown on healthy soil are less susceptible to pests and so, the
need for pest eradication is reduced. Chemical-based agriculture however,
begins with soil which is already nutrient depleted. Plants grown on
depleted soil are weaker and more prone to disease and pests, so more
chemicals are needed every year. The farmer gets caught in a vicious
downward spiral by becoming more and more dependent on harmful chemicals,
eventually ending up with sterile soil and pesticide-resistant super-pests.
On the other hand, when pests become a problem on organic farms, growers
use Integrated Pest Management methods, which actually enhance the overall
biodiversity and health of the ecosystem by introducing beneficial pests
that restore nature's balance. Organic farming doesn't just protect
the soil though. It also protects other resources as well, such as water.
Rich organic topsoil has a huge water-holding capacity so less water
is needed for irrigation. In addition, by not using harmful chemicals
on the farm, waterways, rivers and streams are kept cleaner.
Systems which integrate the environment, the economy, and social concerns in a way that can be maintained in a healthy state indefinitely can be defined as sustainable. Therefore, a sustainable agriculture must be economically viable, socially responsible, and ecologically sound. In terms of food production, a sustainable agriculture cannot use up resources (soil, water, labor, community support, etc.) faster than it can (re)produce them. On the other hand, any type of agriculture that uses up or degrades its natural resource base, or pollutes the natural environment, will, over time, lose its ability to produce food and fiber. At the same time, agriculture that isn't profitable will drive farmers out of business. What this means is that agriculture that fails to meet the needs of both the environment and society cannot be sustained.
That's why Marin Organic producers produce organic foods, going beyond the organic rule and implementing approaches that contribute to the overall sustainability of local agriculture. So, look for the Marin Organic label at retail outlets and farmers' markets throughout the Bay Area. Future generations will thank you for it.
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