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Organic Eating Made Easy

Editor's Note: This is the third in a series of articles on food by students in the Cormier Honors Program at Longwood University.

America arguably has the most bizarre food culture in the entire world. Americans are more concerned about the speed and convenience of a meal rather than the potential social bonds created or the nutritional value of the food that comprises said meal. Fast food has become a staple, followed by health problems and dieting. But what if we began putting the horse before the cart? What if we all make a conscience decision to begin eating well balanced organic meals each day?

The term “organic” has been tossed around a lot in American media. In general, “organic” refers to the growing and processing of raw materials, for both food and nonfood products, without the use of harmful chemicals in the forms of fertilizers, pesticides, etc. Food products that are produced this way tend to be more nutrient rich and just seem to taste better. But look out! There are several different kinds of “organic”: there are the United States Department of Agriculture's (USDA) certified “organic” products, and then there is organic in the sense that you bought it off the back of Farmer Ben's truck just this morning. Whenever possible be on the lookout for Farmer Ben. Locally farmers tend not to fudge their standards and obviously their products do not travel as far, reducing the environmental impact of your food.

So where can one find Farmer Ben grade organic food in Farmville? At the Historic Farmville Train Station on Third Street. From now until October every Saturday from 7 am to noon, and Tuesdays from 3 to 6pm (starting in July) you can find fresh produce, meats, eggs, breads, honey, and so many more local organic food and nonfood products for sale at reasonable prices. Once you have a supply of locally grown items you can incorporate them into your favorite recipes or try some new ones. Or you can keep a supply of raw veggies and fruits as snacks.

Though going to a local Farmers Market is a great way to get local organic food, its time constraints are not always conducive to one's schedule. In that case, keep an eye out for organic food labels while grocery shopping. Most stores even have separate sections for organic items. These food items are the ones that are USDA certified. They are still good, but they have travelled much, much farther, and tend to be a bit pricey.

If by chance you catch yourself in a situation where you personally do not have control over whether or not the food products used in a meal are organic or not, (think restaurants and the dining hall), be active. Just ask! Ask your waiter, waitress, or dining hall staff what options you do have. Most institutions are very reactive to the people that they serve. The more of us that start asking about organic options, the more likely we are to gain more.

Overall, a move towards organic eating would be a smart and healthy choice for all people. Opportunities to buy and eat organic food products are out there, it may just take a little budgeting, a little scheduling, or a little inquiry, but the leg work is worth the benefits of a nutrient rich, small carbon footprint organic meal.