Green FAQs, Part 3

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Why does organic fresh produce often look worse than conventional produce?

If you mean a carrot that is not perfectly straight or an apple that does not gleam, then it is probably because organic produce is not manipulated in order to look good. In the organic world, food is judged as much on content as looks, so apples are not routinely waxed, for example.

Requiring your produce to conform to supermodel good looks comes at a cost. Supermarkets apply such strict rules regarding physical attributes that tonnes of produce fail to make the grade each year and is left to rot. For example, in 1996 more than 2,000 tonnes of eating apples were officially destroyed in the US for this reason and the unofficial figure is said to be far higher.

But organic produce is not such a poor relation - organic farmers have made huge leaps in developing new natural ways of preventing the disease and pest problems which often ruin the appearance of fresh produce.

Are organic farmers just anti-progress?

No. Organic farmers do not hand weed just because it harks back to the good old days. It is done because it is the best way to remove nuisance plants without damaging crops, other beneficial plants and the soil, while also helping the early detection of pest problems and providing much needed local employment.

Neither do organic farmers reject all science. In fact they draw heavily on the latest research into farm management as they seek new ways of achieving good results without falling back on conventional methods, such as pesticides.

What organic farmers do reject is failed science - pesticides, for example. Despite increasing use around the world, pest populations and crop losses have continued to rise. They also avoid what they consider to be unproven high-risk science, such as the genetic modification of crops.

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