Sometimes they are.
That's not bad, just different than today's norm. Yet, consider
that before 1900 most of any fruit crop was consumed as juice and
cider, healthy foods that could incorporate blemishes. Much of the
rest was cut to remove "bad spots" before being canned, jammed or
We love our
kid friends and the fresh perspective they provide. When
Dakarione (at right, with Rylee) ran in and asked, "Can we have an
apple?" in the fall of a year when our two trees were loaded with
fruit as never before, we said, "Sure!" What we didn't expect was
to find our friends then searching in the kitchen, calling, "So
where are they?"
Then, what fun...
...to see them climb for apples!
Plus, a real revelation:
We didn't expect it: They distrusted these apples, scrubbing away
at the totally untreated fruit more vigorously than they ever would
a store-bought apple.
Sometimes they're beautiful
However, organic can be as perfect in appearance as anything
available. It simply takes much more labor when chemicals
incompatible with organic production are taken out of the equation.
Farm Manager Roy Prentice at Michigan State University's Tollgate Farm
showed our class on edible gardening his organic orchard pest
control schedule, saying, "Organic doesn't mean no spraying. In
fact I spray more often than if I used the non-organic pesticides.
That's because things like soap and sulfur that I use don't have
the long lasting effect." The key, he said, is scouting daily to
catch pests before they can inflict much damage. That means
anticipating the pests and dealing with them as they arrive, which
they do in waves a savvy grower can predict.
This extra work means that picture perfect organic produce costs
more. That may not be so in the future, if you and we keep buying
The science sounded marvelous
When organo-phosphate chemicals such as DDT were first
introduced to agriculture, they were miracle products, widely and
gratefully received in a world where losses to pest damage were
accelerating. Other technologies and research were left in the dust
of the rush to develop more of the wondrous potions. Promising work
with oil sprays and strategies such as monitoring to predict pest
activity died on the vine.
Only after 20-odd years of DDT use when farm income was pushed
into the red by the cost of applying chemicals (to control newly
resistant pest populations that began increasing even more rapidly
than before) did agricultural science resume looking for alternate
Unfortunately, most researchers and Agriculture Department
programs focused on developing new classes of chemicals rather than
considering wholly new ways or updating older ways. Why?
Even mounting evidence of health risks couldn't negate the very
powerful presence of and society's investment in the chemical
Hope is less well funded
The independent scientists (such as Union of Concerned
Scientists) and dedicated organic farmers (check for organizations
in your area such as NOFA in the U.S. northeast) who did take a
different approach have made a slower go of it. They were fewer in
number and less well funded. Now that may change with buyer support
-- organic sales! -- to fuel research efforts such as those funded
by the Organic Farming
Research Foundation and Organic Research Centre. Their dollars go into
wholly new approaches plus new takes on old ways. For instance,
where petroleum oil showed pest-control promise back in the early
1900's, now we have effective garlic oil insecticides and fungicides.