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For a taste of clean health (Part III) - Organic food the way to go

Published:Wednesday | July 8, 2015 | 12:00 AMPaul H. Williams
Participants in an organic farm workshop at The Source Farm, Johns Town, St Thomas, earlier this year.
Lise Alexander (right) and Mario Luna explain how bio-fertiliser is process during a tour of Durgas Den Farm.

There is a worldwide belief that food nourished by chemical fertilisers and those genetically modified can cause prolonged ill health and, eventually, death. There are calls from government and non-government stakeholders for a ban on the growth and sale of such food. And, of course, there is also much resistance to the calls for bans.

The alternative to these types of food, advocates are saying, is organic or clean food, which is naturally nourished and not genetically modified. The farms on which they are produced are called organic farms, and must be certified to be so called.

An organic farm "is a production system that is managed to respond to site-specific conditions by integration of cultural, biological and mechanical practices that foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity". In essence, synthetic fertilisers, herbicides, pesticides and anything that is going to compromise biodiversity and symbiotic relationships are not allowed.

Right here in Jamaica, there is a growing organic farm movement; farms that produce clean food are rising. The operators of these farms are saying more and more people are looking for cleaner food alternatives, and there is actually a growing demand for organic food. Some of these farmers meet every two weeks at the Ujima Farmers Market in St Andrew to satisfy the demand.

Under the theme, 'Feeding Your Mind, Body and Soul', clean-food farmers from different parts of Jamaica come together to offer fresh produce, and fruit juices. The fresh produce includes ground provisions, fruits and vegetables.


More Farmers needed


According to Nicola Phillips, of St Thomas' Source Farm Foundation and Ecovillage, the organisers of the market, there is the matter of meeting the growing demand for clean food. "We need more farmers growing items using less costly inputs such as fertilisers and chemical," she said.

"For years, people who have health issues have been seeking a place where they can find clean food (fertiliser and pesticide-free). The market creates a place for people to come and get access to items that sustain a healthy lifestyle," said Phillips.

The demand for organic food is rising because organic food-eaters and farmers are learning that numerous studies have shown that organic foods have lower levels of pesticide residues than non-organic food. Also, organic farming enhances biodiversity and provides habitats and food sources for pollinators.