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|At Boyd Orchards, our standards are BETTER than organic farming methods. We choose carefully each step in the growing process...as our entire family works here daily. We believe in safety first, because our children eat what we grow too.
|5th Generation Growers
"The knowledge and changes in farming in the last century are astounding....yet our orchard still believes in the importance of local people and sustainability practices; just like our forefathers did."
—Terry & Susie Boyd, Owners
At our farm, we are often asked, Is your fruit organic? When we answer no, it seems that the customer is often disappointed. At that point, if the customer has the time, I try to explain our Unconventional – Conventional method of growing versus the organic growing methods. When allowed to complete that explanation, the customer seems much more at ease with our fruit.
We know this is a question on a lot of people’s minds these days, so read along and we will attempt to help you better understand the myths of Organic growing vs. our Unconventional – Conventional method of growing our fruit. The statements made on our approach and methods relate ONLY to our farm and products and do not encompass other farms or growers. We hope that at the end of this article, we will have given you enough information to help you become a more educated buyer and hopefully have a greater comfort level when you purchase our healthy, and ‘ probably much safer than you might have thought’ fruits from our farm!
First, let’s define 2 key words, organic and conventional:
Conventional Farming = using synthetic plant protection products.
Organic Farming = using only natural plant protection products, meaning from the earth.
Boyd Orchards has developed a 3rd category: we grow our fruit by taking an unconventional approach to the conventional growing method. This means that we use synthetic products, as well as some of the safer organic compounds. But what makes us unique, is that we have customized our prevention program so that at the end of the season our residues are almost immeasurable.
THE BOYD ORCHARD GROWING METHOD
Here at Boyd Orchards, we take an ‘Unconventional – Conventional Approach’ to how we grow our fruit. The methods we use allow us to have high yields of fruit, prevent insects, fungi and bacteria on our trees thus producing a healthy and great tasting fruit. Let me explain a few key points:
All of the products used in our prevention programs are extremely biodegradable. As a general statement, in a 2 week period, our products will breakdown to an allowable or less than allowable reside level. However it should be noted that by adding one (1) additional week to that 2, residue levels will drop to less than 50% below the allowable limit. Boyd Orchards exceeds the USDA’s spray guidelines for the window of harvest by waiting an additional 4 weeks giving us a total of 6 weeks after application meaning that our reside levels are minuscule and probably immeasurable. Our customized spray programs give you what we believe to be the safest fruit possible to consume.
If you see a white residue on your purchase in our market, it is merely a late season calcium spray that is applied immediately before harvest for making the fruit firmer and prevents internal breakdown. It is considered a nutrient spray and provides a similar nutritional benefit provided by milk.
The USDA annually tests our fruit and we are proud to say that we always check out with less than the allowed amount of residue. We learned how to successfully produce healthy and great tasting fruit with extremely low residue levels when we owned and operated our family orchard in Illinois. It was there that we successfully produced fruit used by Gerber Baby Food, whose has the highest standard in the industry for chemical tolerance, which is virtually zero. In producing for Gerber Baby Foods for many years, we learned how to adjust our spray programs to have a better result than one could attain by following a state approved spray program.
Our goal here at Boyd Orchards is to feel comfortable about our own children and grandchildren picking their own fruit right out of our orchard. We hold our fruit to the highest standard so that it is safe not only for our own family, but also for yours.
THE TRUTH ABOUT ORGANIC GROWING METHODS
Many people believe that organic simply means that the produce you are buying is chemical and pesticide free. However according to the United States Department of Agriculture, ‘Organic is all about how a product or food is grown and processed. Organic does not mean that a product is free of something, nor is it a judgment about the quality, safety or nutrient value of a product’, ("Organic fact sheet,”) and ‘under the laws of most states, organic farmers are allowed to use a wide variety of chemical sprays and powders on their crops ("About organic produce,”).
‘The fundamental difference between organic and synthetic pesticides is not their toxicity, but their origin – whether they are extracted from natural plants, insects, or mineral ores or are chemically synthesized’ (Avery). This basically means that in organic farming methods, they are utilizing products that are considered ‘natural’ that have ‘come from the earth’.
Here is an interesting thought: remember the OIL SPILL in the Gulf of Mexico? Oil is a ‘natural’ product. It comes from the earth. But everyone was terrified of what it was going to do to the Gulf of Mexico. The same principle applies to the same compounds being used by organic growers. They can pose some of the same threats to both the environment and people. Just because something comes from the earth does not make it healthy for human consumption or safe for the earth. Just food for thought!
Since we are talking about oil, one of the organic compounds used by growers is a 70 viscosity oil product. This is used as a smothering agent for insects. Conventional Growers also use this product, however Conventional Growers generally use this product only before the apple buds even become flowers, thus not spraying the actual fruit itself. Organic Growers use the OIL throughout the summer, applying it to the nearly mature fruit. It is known that most petroleum products carry a carcinogenic threat to them. Just a little more food for thought!
An example of organic pesticides vs. synthetic:
A recent study compared the effectiveness of a rotenone-pyrethrin mixture versus a synthetic pesticide, imidan. Rotenone and pyrethrin are two common organic pesticides: imidan is considered a “soft” synthetic pesticide (i.e., designed to have a brief lifetime after application and other traits that minimize unwanted effects). It was found that up to 7 applications of the rotenone – pyrethrin mixture were required to obtain the level of protection provided by 2 applications of imidan ("About organic produce,”).
So that means that the ‘natural’ pesticide of rotenone which is highly toxic to fish and is ‘classified by the World Health Organization as moderately hazardous and has been linked to Parkinson’s disease in a recent study’ ("Rotenone,”), is being applied heavily to organic produce and later consumed by humans! *The organic compound of Rotenone is one that we DO NOT use.*
Did you also know that until recently, there were no studies conducted to determine the hazards of ‘natural’ products? It was assumed that because a product was considered ‘natural’ and coming from the earth that it was 100% safe! ‘But when the studies were done, the results were shocking: you find that about half of the natural chemicals studied are carcinogenic (“About organic produce,").
Organic certification is a ‘Paper Trail’. They are inspected annually by the USDA to have their paperwork reviewed and facilities inspected. Organic fruits are NOT tested for chemicals or pesticides by the USDA as there is no governing body set up to do it. ‘Regulation 7 CFR 205.670 does not require residue testing’, ("Organic fact sheet,”) ** Check this link/further information: http://www.isitorganic.ca/. In the late 1990 and early 2000’s it was discovered that over 90% of the apple cider e-coli contaminations originated from organic farms due to the cross contamination of manure fertilizers. In addition, it has recently been noted that as manure fertilizers are broken down in the soil and up-taken into the tree, traces of heavy metals have been detected in the apples. Boyd Orchards has not applied fertilizers of any kind in the last 8 years to our apple trees, and due to the richness of our soil, we do not plan to fertilize in the future.
Boyd Orchards is proud of the fruit and vegetables we produce. We strongly stand by our farming methods and our fruit. We hope that this article has given you a better understanding of how and why we choose to farm the way we do. It is our mission to provide you, the customer, with the healthiest and tastiest fruit we can. We appreciate your loyalty to us and welcome any questions or comments regarding our farming approach.
Terry and Susie Boyd
About organic produce. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.ocf.berkeley.edu/%7Elhom/organictext_html
Avery, Alex. "Nature's Toxic Tools: The Organic Myth of Pesticide-Free Farming." Center for Global Food Issues. Center for Global Food Issues, 03 Feb. 2001. Web. 21 Jul 2011. <http://www.cgfi.org/2001/02/natures-toxic-tools-the-organic-myth-of-pesticide-free-farming/>.
Rotenone. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.pan-uk.org/pestnews/Actives/rotenone.htm
Organic fact sheet. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.nsf.org/consumer/organic/fact_organic_certification.pdf