I grew up on a small farm (30 or so acres) near Tacoma, Washington. We raised our own Herefords, I gathered eggs from my frizzle chickens, and we all enjoyed apples, plums and cherries from our fruit trees. Neither of my parents were farmers by profession, though my grandfather owned a dairy farm in Oregon. Eventually, my husband and I hope to move back to the family farm, if for no other reason than preserve it from the surrounding encroachment of houses.
I’ve been thinking about things I might do for fun or profit on the farm. Home grown beef for sure. A veggie garden – finally – on some of the only native soil left in the area. We’ve got lots of options and the space to try them out.
Now back to the question in the title: organic or local? Our family property has been managed gently since we moved there in the late 1960’s. Nothing’s been added to the pasture soil other than what the animals deposited themselves. We’ve had the apple trees sprayed yearly (a requirement because of apple maggot), but this is a targeted application with little affect outside the trees. The cattle were never treated with hormones or other additives – they were about as free range as you can get.
I’ve heard from others that organic certification standards have become increasingly difficult to meet and some growers think they have become increasingly meaningless. On the other hand, locally-grown products are becoming more available.
Is it time for a new standard – locally grown, with some requirements (e.g. soil tests) to demonstrate safety?