<h2>Understanding Organics as a Growing System</h2> <p>Often I am asked to explain the difference between Organic and Conventional food.&#160;&#160;Many people believe that organic just means no sprays or&#160;fertilizers and you can&#160;see food at markets advertised as &apos;chemical-free&apos; or &apos;no herbicides&apos;.&#160; Although this is an excellent start, as certified organic farmers we&#160;understand&#160;our farming system in a more comprehensive way than just no sprays.&#160; Organic farming systems aim to replace all aspects of conventional farming with a natural process or remedy to address the root challenge being presented to the plant.</p> <p>The Mayo clinic has a very simple comparison of conventional versus organic systems which I have inserted here to illustrate the key differences.</p> <table style=&quot;WIDTH: 546px; HEIGHT: 52px&quot; border=&quot;0&quot; cellspacing=&quot;5&quot; cellpadding=&quot;10&quot;> <tbody> <tr> <td bgcolor=&quot;#c0c0c0&quot; width=&quot;50%&quot;><strong>Conventional</strong></td> <td bgcolor=&quot;#c0c0c0&quot; width=&quot;50%&quot;><strong>Organic</strong></td> </tr> <tr> <td valign=&quot;top&quot;>Apply chemical fertilizers to promote plant growth.</td> <td valign=&quot;top&quot;>Apply natural fertilizers, such as manure or compost, to feed soil and plants.</td> </tr> <tr> <td valign=&quot;top&quot;>Spray insecticides to reduce pests and disease.</td> <td valign=&quot;top&quot;>Use beneficial insects and birds, mating disruption or traps to reduce pests and disease.</td> </tr> <tr> <td valign=&quot;top&quot;>Use herbicides to manage weeds.</td> <td valign=&quot;top&quot;>Rotate crops, till, hand weed or mulch to manage weeds.</td> </tr> <tr> <td valign=&quot;top&quot;>Give animals antibiotics, growth hormones and medications to prevent disease and spur growth.</td> <td valign=&quot;top&quot;>Give animals organic feed and allow them access to the outdoors. Use preventive measures &#8212; such as rotational grazing, a balanced diet and clean housing &#8212; to help minimize disease.</td> </tr> </tbody> </table> <p>In organic farming, it isn&apos;t simply enough to stop applying conventional controls and synthetic products.&#160; You must also introduce alternative methods to control pests and disease.&#160; These alternatives tend to be more natural or historical methods that aim to bring the ecosystem of the farm into balance and exclude pests by making the environment inhospitable from the start.&#160; Instead of waiting for the pest problem to emerge and then treating it with a product, organic farms will try to prevent the pest issue from happening in the first instance.</p> <p>If a comprehensive pest management plan is in place and correctly implemented, organic farms will have the same productivity as conventional producers.&#160; However, a farmer that simply stops spraying and applying synthetic compounds without introducing alternative preventative measures will experience significant losses to pests and disease.&#160; As you are planning your garden&#160;for this summer, I encourage you keep this in mind and ensure you have a plan in place to prevent pests and deal with issues without resorting to&#160;conventional&#160;methods.</p> <p>Education and knowledge is power in the new&#160;food&#160;economy and dedicated organic farmers will willingly&#160;and gladly spend hours talking with their customers about their pest management processes and challenges they see on their farms each year.</p> <p>Brody has put together a fantastic list of options this week in the produce department.&#160; We are so fortunate to have so many excellent options available to us in the greens category in March.&#160; It has been very hot this spring in the Salinas Valley and the Baja area in Mexico and our independant growers down there have benefited from the excellent conditions and we are seeing the result.&#160; Take advantage of this bounty!&#160; Melon season is starting about&#160;three weeks earlier than last year so we are looking forward to having lots of melon choices starting with some awesome mini watermelons.&#160; Your kids will love these, they are smaller than what you see in the grocery store but they are chocked full of natural sugars and flavours and the taste is exceptional.</p> <p>Have&#160;a Great Week!</p> <p>&#160;Danny.</p> <h2>Featured Producers</h2> <table cellspacing=&quot;15&quot; cellpadding=&quot;0&quot; bgcolor=&quot;#edf0e9&quot;> <tbody> <tr> <td valign=&quot;top&quot; align=&quot;center&quot;><img title=&quot;BloodOranges&quot; alt=&quot;BloodOranges&quot; src=&quot;/uploadedImages/009_-_This_Week/Bloodoranges01.jpg&quot; /></td> <td><h2>Blood Oranges</h2> <p>&#160;OOOOOOOOOO Scary!!! These oranges are full of blood!!! Well... no, not really, but they look like they are. To give them that &apos;blood&apos; coloured pigment, the flesh of these oranges is packed full of anthocyanins = antioxidants. That means they are an extra healthy orange that are not only good for you, but really fun to eat! <br /><br />Have fun with these oranges and make &apos;blood&apos; coloured marmalades, gelato, smoothies, or muffins. They are also popular and festive&#160;additions to salads! Slice up some fennel bulb, add some wedges of blood orange and drizzle in olive oil... simple and devilishly delicious. </p> </td> </tr> <tr> <td valign=&quot;top&quot; align=&quot;center&quot;><img title=&quot;MeyerLemons&quot; alt=&quot;MeyerLemons&quot; src=&quot;/uploadedImages/009_-_This_Week/MeyerLemons01.png&quot; /></td> <td><h2>&#160;Meyer Lemons</h2> <p>Want a lemon without the puckery sourness that you&apos;re used to?? Try a Meyer Lemon! <br /><br />A cross between a &apos;normal&apos; lemon and a mandarin orange, Meyer Lemons were introduced into the USA by the agricultural explorer Frank Nicholas Meyer in 1908. Since then they have been in and out of fashion, but are seeing a comeback right now in food culture. They are a much sweeter variety of lemon and are absolutely perfect for juicing. Make the best lemonade you&apos;ve ever tasted with these yummy treats. You&apos;re kids will love them! <br /><br />Also great with fish, green beans, or try them in your favourite lemon dessert. </p> </td> </tr> <tr> <td valign=&quot;top&quot; align=&quot;center&quot;><img title=&quot;Steelcut&quot; alt=&quot;Steelcut&quot; src=&quot;/uploadedImages/009_-_This_Week/steelcutoats01.jpg&quot; /></td> <td><h2>&#160;Steel Cut Oats</h2> <p>Made from whole grain groats that have been coarsely cut into pieces, steel cut oats are also commonly known as Irish or Scottish oats. They are very popular in the British Isles in breakfast dishes (ie: porridge). They usually take longer to cook than rolled oats, and are chewier and have a nuttier flavour. Due to their heartier nature, steel cut oats generally have a lower glycemic index in comparison to other oat varieties. Try these as a substitute from rolled oats in your baking, and in breakfast oatmeal recipes. </p> <p>We&apos;re getting our steel cut oats from close to home. John at <a title=&quot;Gold Forest Grains &quot; href=&quot;http://goldforestfarms.blogspot.com&quot; target=&quot;_blank&quot;>Gold Forest Grains </a>is getting these ready for orders as this is being typed up. Eat up, and support local! Yum! </p> </td> </tr> </tbody> </table>