Monday, June 28, 2010

Fruits and Vegetables: Ask Before You Buy

Farmers’ markets and farm stands are in full swing now, but don’t assume the food is organic just because the setting is so charming. (The same holds true at Whole Foods, which has done a masterful job of leading people to believe that everything in the store is organic.)

If avoiding chemicals in your food is important to you—which it should be—make sure to ask the farmer or salesperson what sprays, if any, are being used. You have a right to know, and it’s rare you’ll find a farmer who won’t answer your question.

Remember, food doesn’t have to be labeled “organic” to be free of chemicals. There are many farmers without USDA organic certification (because of the red tape, bureaucracy and cost associated with the program) who grow vegetables and fruits without the use of pesticides.

For example, Nevia No, who I think sells the best vegetables in the New York City farmers’ market system, doesn’t have organic certification but grows most of her food without any pesticides. No will be the first to tell you that she uses fungicides on her tomatoes, peppers and eggplants.

Unfortunately, all farmers aren’t as forthcoming as No. More on this tomorrow.

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