Organic movement has strong foothold locally

Whether scanning the produce section of the grocery store or strolling her local farmer’s market on a warm summer morning, Daniela Carpenter knows exactly what she wants, or at least what she definitely wants to avoid.

“For the last five years or so, it’s just been very important for me to rethink what exactly I’m putting in my body or giving to my family, especially when it comes to fresh fruits and vegetables,” Carpenter said. “I’m willing to pay a little more if I know I’m not ingesting pesticides or any other harmful toxins.”

Carpenter isn’t alone. According to research by the Mayo Clinic, there are generally three primary reasons people are drawn to buy organic foods, specifically organic produce: significantly fewer pesticide residues, banned or severely restricted food additives and environmental concerns, with organic farms designed to reduce pollution, conserve water and enhance soil quality.

“There’s something to be said for a little peace of mind,” Carpenter added. “Not to mention helping support the local producers, and of course who doesn’t want something which just tastes better anyway?”

A report by The United States Department of Agriculture states that consumer demand for organically produced goods has shown double digit growth for more than a decade.

As co-owner of Star Light Gardens USDA-certified organic farm in Durham, David Zemelsky has had a front row seat to the organic movement’s rising tide of popularity over the last 15 years.

“Organic food has become more and more popular as people become aware of the importance of eating food produced without the use of harmful insecticides, petroleum based fertilizers and land steward practices that harm the health of our soil rather than help build a healthy ecosystem in the soil that encourages healthy plants and a healthier planet,” said Zemelsky, who, with his brother Ty, has co-owned and managed the family farm since 1999.

“There is a lot of research out there that concluded that organically grown food is much richer in essential vitamins and trace elements,” said Zemelsky.

Star Light Gardens is part of the state’s Community Supported Agriculture linking the consumer with the farmer, thereby eliminating the middleman. In the CSA, participants can buy a share before the growing season of the farm’s crop. The membership program is designed to encourage support of local farming, which adhere to sustainable practices, while providing fresh, diverse, high quality produce and promote community engagement and educational opportunities

“Most of these individuals are very concerned with getting locally, sustainably grown food because they know it tastes best locally,” Zemelsky said.

Having recently moved from New Hampshire to Cromwell, David Tressel said he believes it’s only a matter of time before organic produce is the new standard.

“We’re seeing what’s happening all the time with these various growth hormone and unsavory substances and additives they’ve been quietly adding to our foods for years,” he said. “It’s a scary thought. Why can’t an apple just be an apple?”

Going organic is far more than a catch phrase or slogan for the Zemelsky and his family. Contributing to a healthier lifestyle and smart eating habits for consumers and the local community is simply a way of life.

“It’s a reason to get up in the morning,” he said, adding that, “knowing that one’s work helps improve the health of all that partake in what we produce.”



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