The inorganic heartland

Apple tree

Courtesy Doug McAbee

Rural areas lack access to healthy harvests

By Amanda Hersch

If you frequent the produce section of your local grocery store, then chances are you have heard of the so-called “dirty dozen,” the twelve fruits and vegetables so heavily polluted with pesticides as to be labeled toxic by organic connoisseurs. Spinach, apples, and celery are just a few of the highly sprayed produce that people in the know avoid by simply buying organic. However, this switch is not as easy if you live in a rural community.

As a trip to a Somerset grocery store recently confirmed, rural stores often have little or no organically grown produce available. So where do you find organic produce if you live in a rural area? Farmers markets are an excellent source of naturally grown produce and buying there also helps to support local farmers. The downside is that they are not always open year round. Mail order is another solution. Companies like Door to Door Organics, BoxedGreens, and Suburban Organics offer quality organic fruits and vegetables for a premium. However, if you are not willing to go without organically grown produce in the winter and do not like paying more for mail order, you will need to be pro-active in getting local supermarkets to realize that there is demand for organic produce, which is the first step to giving rural communities those same choices offered to more urban areas. As Americans become more aware of the harmful effects of pesticides and fertilizers used on fruits and vegetables, the demand for organic alternatives will increase. Organic produce, as well as other naturally produced foods, should be available to all communities, regardless of their size.

Amanda Hersch is a freelance writer and member of the Allegheny Group.

Published August 2008