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Growing popularity of clean food spells boon for local farms, farmers markets


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(NaturalNews) Supermarkets all across the country are jumping on the organic bandwagon. Even companies like Walmart, which has a longstanding reputation for selling the cheapest, lowest-quality products available, are joining in to capture this growing market. But many consumers are discovering that some of the best deals for clean food are actually found through local farms, farmers markets and community supported agriculture (CSA) programs, which is good news for the small-scale food movement.

As you may have noticed, grocery store shelves are increasingly transitioning from what has come to be known as conventional food -- that is, food that has been grown with pesticides and herbicides and that may contain genetic modifications -- to food bearing the certified organic label. Organic food, as many of our readers already know well, must be grown in accordance with strict standards and may not harbor genetic modifications, something that many families recognize as important for health and longevity.

But word has also gotten out that many of these organic brands are owned by the same corporations peddling junk food and promoting GMOs. Evidence of this is detailed in an infographic made available by the organic advocacy group Cornucopia Institute (CI), which has been circulating the internet as of late. Conscious consumers are turned off by this kind of thing, which is why many of them are now flocking to local sources for real food.

"Many [organic companies] are depending on factory farms and imports from China, India, and other Third World countries to enhance their bottom line," says Mark Kastel of CI, as quoted by TakePart.com. "They are taking advantage of the goodwill of organic consumers. And the prices are not coming down accordingly."

As corporations hold organic prices high, consumers flock to local alternatives

It is this price gouging that is driving many people to seek out local sources of clean food. Though not always officially certified, many local growers apply organic or "better than organic" standards to their food production methods and pass on the savings to their customers. Even low-income families on government assistance are joining in, as more local farms and farmers markets than ever are accepting things like food stamps, or what is officially known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

"The story that is too often not told ... one that is, perhaps, a solution to the organic pricing conundrum -- is about the boom in locally grown food," writes Steve Holt for TakePart.com. "More consumers are buying directly from nearby farmers, either at markets or through community supported agriculture (CSA) ... For healthy, affordable food, consumers may be better off looking to their local farm stand rather than their local supermarket."

Some helpful tools for finding locally-sourced food include the websites Eat Wild and Local Harvest, which can be accessed at the following links:
http://www.eatwild.com/products/index.html
http://www.localharvest.org

For some additional tips on how to select the best products from your local farmers market or CSA, check out the following list compiled by Organic Gardening:
http://www.organicgardening.com

"We're starting to see enough competition among vendors at farmers markets that the prices are becoming competitive," explained Jake Robert Claro, a graduate student from Bard College who helped lead a study revealing that organic produce is almost always cheaper at farmers markets than it is at the grocery store, as quoted by 21Acres.org. In his view, organic food prices will only continue to drop.

"This trend is going to grow stronger. Maybe that will put the elitist perception to rest."

Sources for this article include:

http://www.takepart.com
http://www.organicgardening.com
http://www.cornucopia.org/who-owns-organic/
http://news.walmart.com
http://www.eatwild.com/products/index.html
http://www.localharvest.org
http://21acres.org
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