Welcome to our Holden's Hide a way farm

Holden's Hide-A-Way Farm is a diversified farm that produces a wide variety of meat product, in much of the same manner as a farmer would have 100 years ago. Our ideas on how to raise livestock come directly from mother nature. We raise grass fed beef and lamb because that is what mother nature intended. Our pigs are free to root and roam through out the warm seasons. Winters are spent in a barn with ample space and lots of hay to eat and root around in. Poultry is raised on pasture where they get lots of fresh air and can do the things poultry likes to do.

Friday, 7 September 2012

Organic vegetable nutrition

Vegetable harvest is in full swing now. Tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, beans, peas, even the pumpkins are ready for harvest. Now that Lynn and I are in vegetable mode we are very excited. Our CSA program has been a success, vegetables are looking good despite the drought this summer which did effect some of our harvest but most have recovered. We plan on expanding our CSA membership to 20 full time members next year.
While researching some information for our marketing efforts for next year we have run across many articles which reference a recent study published in The Journal of Science of Nutrition and Agriculture. The article states that their research indicates little to no nutritional benefits or difference between organic and conventional produced vegetables. The problem with these "scientific" studies are that they are conducted by scientist, who tend to be biased. The fact is that they believe they know all there is to know. For instance when the scientist research what chemicals need to be in a fertiliser for tomatoes, they typically decide on nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium levels. These three elements are generally recognised as the ingredients in chemical fertiliser. However we all know that plants require much more than these three elements.
The problem with conducting studies such as the one mentioned is the journal is that there are so many variables. For instance many large companies have jumped on the organic bandwagon. Large companies have bastardised the organic industry by bending and twisting the organic standards in an effort to capitalise on the increased prises and niche market created by the organic industry. While all farmers are in business to make a profit, some are more relentless than others. In general smaller organic family farms concentrate on plant health and the quality of their product. This added effort is represented in the higher prices most organic vegetables demand. Big business capitalises on the higher prises, but often use conventional farming practises that have been modified to meet organic standards.
Additionally the "scientific" studies do not measure the entire chemical makeup of the vegetables. While common vitamin and mineral levels are measured, photo chemicals are not. These are compounds that are not vitamin or mineral that are believed to contribute to our health. Photo chemicals effect the taste and colour of fruits and vegetables. They also help fight off disease in the plant. Much can be changed about the nutritional value of a plant by its environment. Small organic farmers use green manures and animal manures for fertilisers. Making the soil more diverse and nutritious for the plant. This nutrition is passed on to the final consumer. Large scale industrial type organic farms use "natural" fertilisers such ad alfalfa meal, soy meal, blood, bone meal or corn gluten meal. All of these chemicals are approved for organic production. They represent a poor attempt at copying the conventional vegetable production. I should mention that I am not against using these products, however they should be used as amendments to the soil, not as primary means of fertilisation and plant nutrition. They are still better that adding oil derived fertilisers like the conventional vegetable producers use.
This brings us to the next point. Something that is not mentioned, is what is not in the organic vegetables. Chemical residues from commercial fertilisers, pesticides, hormones and antibiotic residues form commercial manure applications. As well there are chemicals that are added for chemical ripening, or preserving fruit and vegetables.  None of these chemicals have had adequate testing to see what the long term health effects are on humans or our environment.
An article published in mother earth news 10 years ago is probably more accurate that the studies published now. 10 years ago organic produce was not being bombarded by the commercial industry like it is now. While I can not remember off hand the exact numbers in the study it basically stated that, when a conventionally grown tomato from a grocery store was compared to an organically grown tomato grown in composted manure, the latter had over 300% the micro nutrients.
How do you know what to eat. Its simple, find a farmer you can trust and eat as seasonally as you can. Organic certification only means that the farmer meets the organic standards. It does not mean they have to be ethical about it.