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Organic Farming Isn't End All, Be All Option

Organic Farming Isn't End All, Be All Option

Can you grow quality produce and commodities organically? Obviously some people can, but it's also obvious some haven't figured out the methods that work yet.

Judging at a 4-H fair on a weekend recently, I evaluated vegetables and posters about gardening. One exhibitor brought plates with potatoes of vastly differing size, and green beans that weren't uniform either. Worst of all, the green beans had bug bites.

That's a red flag for me. Back when my wife, Carla, canned extensively, she would usually rather break the green beans herself rather than allow me to help. She claimed I missed too many 'bug bites' and threw them in the bowl. I didn't do it on purpose, but I didn't have to break beans very often, either!

Quality counts: Can you grow quality produce and commodities organically? Obviously some people can, but it's also obvious some haven't figured out the methods that work yet.

One 4-H member who brought her produce to the judging table was trying to raise an all-organic garden. I didn't know until she told me, but I certainly had a suspicion. Her plate of potatoes were the least uniform in size and quality of the day, and she brought the only green beans with obvious insect damage.

However, she explained her approach to organic gardening with pictures on her poster. It was her first attempt at organic gardening, working without insecticides and commercial fertilizers. She's dedicated to making it work – she just needs to figure out how to reduce the insect population in her garden.

Related: The Farm Bill: What's in it for Organic Agriculture

Farmers who want to do it commercially must do the same thing. It doesn't seem like there's an answer for every situation yet in the organic world. Some have remedies that work on a small scale, but that would be time-consuming and cumbersome on a large scale.

What's the point? If you want go after niche markets and fetch premium prices by growing only organic crops, do your homework and go for it. If you're one of the people convinced organic farming is the answer for every farmer, whether he wants to grow organically or not, I recommend you look at a few 4-H garden exhibits before championing that theory. You might be surprised at what you find.

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