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Now browsing: Hometown News > News > Martin County

Organic farming has become a growing trend in area
Rating: 1 / 5 (5 votes)  
Posted: 2013 Mar 29 - 06:59

By Anna-Marie Menhenott


MARTIN COUNTY -- Organic seems to be a fast-growing grocery trend which is making green markets shoppers very happy.

Locally produced supplies such as honey, fresh vegetables, baked goods, dairy and meats have become staples at fresh markets like Stuart Green Market.

Farmers sell locally-grown goods to residents who are shying away from processed foods and have decided to add healthier ingredients to their diet.

"There have been many changes to the market. We've had an explosion of sorts," explained Natalie Parkell, market general manager and local farmer at Vertical Horizon Farm in Hobe Sound.

"We've expanded from about 30 vendors to approximately 50-60 a week. There's such a variety of goods like locally grown tomatoes, peppers, onions and honey to non-produce items like jewelry and arts and crafts. There's prepared food available for those who want to grab breakfast and browse the stands."

Locally produced honey has been thought to help build immunity to some seasonal allergies.

Honey made by bees in the vicinity of a plant that causes allergies will contain tiny amounts of pollen from that plant. This honey is thought to act as a sort of vaccine if taken in small amounts, a few teaspoons per day, for several months, and can provide relief from seasonal pollen-related allergies.

Organic food is often fresher and usually tastes better than food that contains preservatives, which are used to make food last longer.

Organic produce is usually grown on smaller farms near where it is sold. This may not always be the case, so checking the source of produce is always best.

Organic farming is a better choice for the environment. It reduces pollution in the air, water and soil, reduces soil erosion, increases soil fertility, conserves water and uses less energy.

Organically raised animals are not given antibiotics, growth hormones or fed animal byproducts. The use of antibiotics in meat production boosts the creation of antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria. Because of this, when someone gets sick from these particular strains, they will be less responsive to antibiotic treatments.

Not feeding animal byproducts to other animals reduces the risk of diseases such as mad cow disease.

Also, the animals are housed in less-restrictive environments and are allowed to go outdoors. Both of these practices keep the animals healthy.

"At our farm, we are hydroponic growers," said Ms. Parkell. "The mechanics can get complex, but basically, we grow out of the ground. We use drip irrigation, which reduces water usage 85 percent over field watering, and growing the crops while out of the ground allows the ability to manage insects and diseases without toxic chemicals."

Shopping organic can get costly, especially when shopping for a large family. There are some tips that can keep buying organic within budget:

Shop at weekly farmers' markets. Often, shoppers will find items for less than you'd pay in the grocery store or supermarket.

To make shopping organic easier, remember to buy in season. Fruits and vegetables are cheapest and freshest when they are in season.

Compare the price of organic items at the grocery store, the farmer's market and any other venue and buy the most economical ones.

The Stuart Green Market takes place Saturday mornings, from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. at the City Hall parking lot, 121 S.W. Flagler Ave., Stuart.

For more information, visit www.stuartgreenmarket.org.

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