Does organically grown produce really matter?

By Shanacee Shreve
Entirely East Lansing staff writer

The East Lansing Farmer’s Market is up and open for business.

The market is located close to Grand River Avenue and is open every week until October 30, 2011.

The Farmer’s Market is a growers’ market, which means everything in the market place is homegrown, according to the market’s  website.

They have a variety of vendors including Hang’s Market, Spartan Country Meats, Nightengale Farms, Clearview Orchard, Pregitzer Farm and much more.

Richard Bowie, a third-season organic grower at market, is not convinced that all the food sold at the market is homegrown.

“The market’s slogan ‘100% Homegrown makes us different’ is used as a gimmick,”said Bowie.

“I’ve seen a vendor carrying a barrel of produce and selling it to another vendor, which I assume was then sold at another market,” said Bowie.

Bowie claims that many vendors use the term organically grown loosely and without the certification.

“Many vendors use organic practices, but by law they cannot say they are a certified organically grown vendor,” said Michelle Carlson, head of information at the market.

“We apply sustainable practices to produce organically grown products,” said a representative of Pregitzer Farms, a vendor at the East Lansing Farmer’s Market.

“We use the resources available to produce a healthy crop for the lowest priced product possible,” said a representative of Pregitzer Farms.

Many vendors cannot afford the certification process and believe consumers should look past the term organic.

“Organically grown should not be the focus. Consumers should focus on the soil used and the nutrition.” said Travis Nightengale, also a vendor.

Julie and Luke Ray, a couple shopping at the market, said the term organically grown is used loosely and is really just a certification process.

“We look for factors like how much fertilizer did they spray,what is the soil built from, and our personal relationships with the vendors,” said Julie.

Not all vendors are credible, according to Julie Ray.

“I know personally Hang’s Farm claims their produce is grown organically from Vietnam but it is not,” said Julie.

Bowie believes the reputation of the market and the customers’ satisfaction is most important.

“We sell genuine products and are certified,” said Bowie.

“I expect the city and the East Lansing Farmer’s Market  to enforce a verification process, in order to ensure fresh produce and to maintain the integrity of the market,” said Bowie.

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One Response to Does organically grown produce really matter?

  1. Teri Wilcox says:

    I find your story very helpful. I will make sure I know how much fertilizer is used and what soil is used and the nutrition before I purchase anything.

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