I was at my local farmers market this summer getting my weekly produce. I approached a man selling apples and asked him if they were organic. “Nothing can be grown truly organically!” he told me. Usually I am up for debate, but I was so shocked that someone at a local farmers market would be saying this to me. I simply walked away and found another person to buy from. This bothered me for weeks and when I went back to challenge him, he was gone. So I thought I might be able to shine some light on this subject.
It is true that most gardens or crops have some sort of need for pesticide control. These little nuisances can cause significant damage to a crop. There is a reason that government agencies have set standards for organic certifications allowing use of pesticides to protect organic produce. However, it is important to note, these pesticides must be made up of completely organic materials.
Synthetic pesticides arrived during WWI and WWII. Chemicals like nerve gas and mustard gas where just the beginning. Looking for an outlet for these chemicals, they began using them to control insects, bacteria, fungus, weeds and other nuisances. These chemicals were not only short term, but had severe consequences. I have written articles about the damage synthetic pesticides cause, so I won’t spend too much time on that. It is just important to note that there are thousands of toxins in synthetic pesticides today.
Organic agriculture has been around for hundreds of years so there are countless methods to growing crops organically. The National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) actually has a list of approved organic pesticides that are available for use. I also recently stumbled upon a mixture that is being used in India called “Panchagavya”. It is an interesting mixture of five cow products mixed together. You can Google this further if interested. Organic farmers also use natural repellants such as, crop rotation, insect traps, and the introduction of predatory species, micro-organisms and certain plants to warn of pests. Plants like garlic, peppers, anise and more are also good natural repellants to plant in smaller crops. There are countless mixtures on the internet to use for organic growth, but remember too much is not always the best. Over applying organic pesticides can kill the pests instead of detour them.
I grow my own organic garden at home and have experimented with many different organic pesticides. There are some that work better in the climate I live than others. Garlic has been my favorite and most useful so far. As for the gentleman I talked about at the beginning, I am not sure what he actually meant with his comment. It is possible he was talking about organic pesticides; it is also possible he was just not educated. I can only hope the next time I am faced with that situation, I can have an adult conversation and help educate others.