Organic Food and Local Produce Market

Growing conventional crops in the same place year after year has been described as mining the soil for minerals.  Layers of topsoil blow away each year after tilling and are never replaced, leading eventually to dust-bowls where only gorse can make a living.

Chemical fertilizers kill off micro-organisms in the soil, like taking anti-biotics does in people, and the effect is that the good bugs die too.  We know we should take acidophilus yogurt to help replace the good digestive bugs in our tummies, but what replacement is there for the life in the soil when the acidity and bio-availability of nutrients changes with chemical applications?

A major reason to choose organics is the ability of the soil to lock in carbon.  Carbon dioxide gas in the atmosphere causes global warming.  More than 350 parts per million in our atmosphere will lead to run-away climate change according to NASA climate scientist James Hansen.  Currently the global level is 378ppm and rising, so we need to act as soon as possible to avoid making the changes permanent.  The website www.350.org describes the world “like a patient that goes to the doctor and learns he is overweight and his cholesterol is too high.”  We are past the safety threshold, but we can still change our lifestyle and get back into the safe zone if we act quickly. 

Organic farming replaces the carbon lost from the soil by using crop-rotation, green manures, compost, animal manures and mulches.  A 23-year Rodale Institute study calculated that “if 10,000 mid sized U.S. farms converted to organic production, it would be equivalent to taking 1,174,400 cars off the road.”  If only 15% of NZ farming was changed to organics, we might be able to offset the carbon emissions from every car in the country.

So organic farming is good for more reasons than to avoid toxic chemicals, and is worth supporting, because organics may just hold the key to turning back the tide.

Right now in Opotiki there are very few options available if we want to choose organic produce.

The Transition Town group wants to encourage local shops to stock organic goods.  Supporting organic shouldn’t require people to travel out of town to shop.  In the meantime, an Organic Food Co-op is being launched this Saturday.  For $20 a month you can join and be part of the wholesale bulk orders.  Collectively we can buy fresh, tinned, and dry organic food like flour and spaghetti and avoid chemically grown food.  You will be surprised by how affordable it is. 

To see a sample of the goods and pricelists, and to find out more come to the opening at the Blue Shed on the corner of Church and Richard Sts, from 2pm this Saturday.  

Then at 2.30 we will start a planning meeting for a regular market place here.  If you have more grapefruit or silverbeet than you know what to do with, our proposed ‘Local Produce Market’ might be the ideal way to earn some cash from your home garden; it’s not just for farmers.

Visit the website www.tt.org.nz for details. (Opotiki Coast)