I love farm stand season! If I see a fruit stand that says “peaches and fresh-churned peach ice cream,” you’ll hear brakes squeal (if I’m driving) or a whole lot of whimpering (if I’m not driving). I picked up 4 baskets of blackberries today, and succeeded in getting home with more than 50% of them, which I believe is a new record.
I also got a CSA share (where you pay a farm for a season’s worth of produce in advance, and you get a sampling of whatever is harvested that week) this summer for the first time, and it’s been a little like Christmas morning every Saturday when I go see what’s in this week’s big bag of greeny goodness! The farm sends me a list on Friday, but some of the items (chard, kohlrabi, fennel) I was completely unfamiliar with until I saw them, and started trying to figure out what to do with them. Chard is pretty and yummy, kohlrabi looks like a UFO, and the fennel was a miss, too licorice-y. It’s so funny to watch the dogs eating the the greens. They both like broccoli stalks, and Callie will eat almost anything, while Chookie takes his and guards it but often doesn’t actually eat it. I chose an organic farm, Mattawoman Creek Farms, mainly because they were the most convenient, but also because they always seem to have the most interesting variety of produce, with lots of cool heirloom tomatoes and potatoes in all colors.
So, one of the questions for this week is: “Is organic produce more healthful?” And the answer is: ??????
Yes, that’s the answer. We don’t know. Looking at several literature reviews, they all concur that the studies are inconclusive, and aren’t adequately-powered, and finally that the studies are too different to try to meta-analyze them into consistency. There are definitely environmental benefits to organic farming, and there is less pesticide contamination of organic food (I’d hope so! That’s kind of the point there.), but the actual nutrient content or contamination from bacteria or heavy metals naturally occurring in the soil or water doesn’t seem to be significantly different.
How about flavor? There doesn’t seem to be any difference there between organic and conventional either. But most of the time, farm stands will win over grocery stores. Well, almost any fresh-picked produce will taste better, and I’m going to make the crazy assumption that a vegetable that tastes more like that ideal vegetable might just have more of the good stuff (A, K, magnesium, potassium, what-have-you) in it which that vegetable is supposed to have. And it makes me happy to pick out stuff from the farm stand, which hopefully didn’t have to travel very far between the dirt where it grew, and my kitchen. So I’m expecting it to taste better and have more health benefits, and as my sister would say, “Don’t poke holes in my placebo!”