Thai Basil
Thai Basil

Blab TV, located in Downtown Pensacola on Palafox Street, asked that I take part in their round table discussion on their new morning show, The Daily Brew, so of course I said yes! I’m sharing in a conversation about organic vs. inorganic growing practices, and wanted to also include my notes with readers and viewers here.

I feel blessed to have lived a bi-city lifestyle in East Hill near the Downtown Pensacola area for many years, while maintaining a home in South Walton as well. My husbands practice was not one he could leave to come to South Walton permanently, and my life near my parents, raising very young children at the time, along with my work, did not afford me the luxury to uproot and move permanently to Pensacola.

I am back and forth more often than not these days, since our children are now grown, and am excited about the renaissance, rejuvenation, and the excitement that is building as the city of Pensacola changes for the positive.

On the topic of Certified Organic vs. Inorganic:

Knowledge is Power.

My grandfather on my mother’s side was a farmer with a full working farm that had a focus on peanuts (why I love them boiled so much), while my grandfather on my father’s side owned the local grocery store in their town, where my father worked, and also raised chickens as a hobby. Though I am a home cook, as well as a food and travel writer, I’ve been surrounded by food and food history my entire life.

zipper peas

I trained my children, now in college, to be label readers around the time they were in elementary school. Something they had to do before they could put what they wanted in the grocery cart. I also developed my family meal plan based on their input, so they would have to help shop, cook, and eat the food they desired.

In talking organic, to start things off, you should know that the organic market in the U.S. is regulated and governed under a piece of legislation called the “National Organics Program” (NOP) which is enforced and overseen by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), not the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Within the NOP there are strict guidelines that must be met by producers, including ingredients, contact substance and modification method specifications, product production, handling, and certification standards, and very strict labeling requirements.

I like to shop as close to the source as possible when I can, which is locally, direct to the farmer or producer.

Most famers and producers that I know do not have the money, time, or energy to become Certified Organic. They have to pass the increase on to their consumer, and don’t want the hassle.

Renee is a certified organic farm-her. Twin Oaks Farm located in Bonifay. Twin Oaks FamStan, Grayton Beach
Renee is a certified organic farm-her. Twin Oaks Farm is located in Bonifay, FL. Twin Oaks FarmStand, Grayton Beach, FL

By having a personal relationship with your farmer or producer, and knowing that they are certified organic or practicing similar organic principals, you as the buyer are getting the best quality product, at a lower cost, and gaining knowledge about your food source.

As a home cook, I am passionate about buying organic, hormone free meat and eggs from certified organic farmers and from stores like Ever’man in Downtown Pensacola. You can taste the difference in the juicy chicken or White Oak Pasture’s meat.

Also, I find it incomprehensible that the FDA does not require labeling of genetically engineered animals that are sold as food. Genetically engineered animals may contain genetic material from an entirely different species.

The benefits of eating organic foods, from lower pesticide exposure to environmental impact, are well known. But buying organic can be expensive.

Chef Phil McDonald, Pizza Bar on 30A (Try the Brussel Spout Pizza!)
Chef Phil McDonald, Bud & Alley’s Pizza Bar on 30A (Try the Brussel Spout Pizza!)

Budget conscious consumers can get the most bang for their buck by prioritizing which organic foods to purchase based on the amount of pesticides they’re likely to contain. Foods that need to be peeled, like bananas and avocados, tend to have a much lower number of residues than those foods that have to be prepared to eat. Be sure to wash the skin thoroughly before cutting into it.

Also, just a note, hydroponic (voted 12 to 1 by the board of the NOP) is not certified organic, though quite delicious, and nutritious when grown under the proper conditions. Hydroponic produce is grown in water and does not use any amount of soil. Read about Mac Farms, as seen on Emeril’s Florida on the Cooking Network.

TIP: Buy seafood from local producers using sustainable practices, and trusted local purveyors. If the fish smells fishy, don’t buy it. It should smell of the sea, or in our case, the Gulf.

Know your seasons for produce and legal seafood. 

We need another round table to discuss Natural- it a whole new ball game.

According to the USDA, the “natural” label can be placed on a product “containing no artificial ingredient or added color and is only minimally processed. The label must explain the use of the term natural (such as – no added colorings or artificial ingredients; minimally processed.)

This label in no way refers to the way an animal was raised, and indeed, animals raised in industrial barns can carry the label “natural.” The natural label also does not mean that an animal was raised without hormones or antibiotics

4-Red Fish

Where to buy: (suggestions, not a complete list, most on Facebook)

Palafox Farmers Market: Downtown Pensacola, FL on Saturday.

Everman’s: Downtown Pensacola, FL on Garden St.

Bodacious Olive: Epicurean Market, Olive Oil, Downtown Pensacola, Palafox

Apple Market: Cervantes-Pensacola, FL. They have a local and organic section in their produce department and hard to find products from local and regional purveyors.

Bailey’s Produce, Pensacola, FL: Some local and regional produce and C&D Mills Stone Ground Grits and Cornmeal

Publix: Florida and Alabama does have certified organic produce and meat.

Fresh Market: Florida and Alabama does have certified organic produce and meat.

Piggly Wiggly: Florida and Alabama: Incorporating more organic products into their stores, for example, Working Cows Dairy Milk.

For The Health Of It: Blue Mt Beach, FL, Hwy 30A

The Twin Oaks FarmStand: Grayton Beach, FL

The Seaside Farmers Market, Seaside, FL on Saturday in Seaside, Florida on Hwy 30A

The Grand Boulevard Farmers Market on Saturday in Sandestin, Hwy 98

The WaterColor Coastal Farmers Market on Sunday, WaterColor, Hwy30A

Riverwalk Market, Milton, FL, Saturday

Fairhope Health Foods in Mobile, and Fairhope, Alabama

Sweet Home Farm, Elberta, AL: The most amazing cheese, but you must drive to Elberta to get it. It is worth the drive to visit Doug and Alyce. Tel: 251-986-5663

 

Alyce and Doug in the Cheese Shop
Alyce and Doug in the Cheese Shop-Sweet Home Farm, Elberta

 

Restaurants and Chefs (using organic practices or serving locally grown meat and produce. Feel free to add your favorites in the comments below.)

Alex McPhail at Iron, Palafox, Downtown Pensacola

Maricarmen Josephs at Carmen’s Lunch Bar, Palafox, Downtown Pensacola

Frank Taylor at Global Grill, Palafox, Downtown Pensacola

Blake Rushing at Type, N 9th Avenue, Pensacola

Irv Miller at Jacksons, Palafox, Downtown Pensacola

End Of The Line Café, East Wright St, Pensacola

Bodacious Brew, Fair Trade Coffee, Downtown, Pensacola, Palafox

Café Organic, Truxton Ave, Ft. Walton Beach, FL

Jackacudas Seafood & Sushi, Destin FL uses seafood with FishTrax, know where your seafood came from-water to table.

Renee Savary, owner/farmer: Twin Oaks Farm in Bonifay, Florida, Twin Oaks FarmStand in Grayton Beach, Florida

Chef Kevin Korman, Caliza at Alys Beach, FL, Hwy 30A

Pickles, Seaside, FL Hwy 30A, White Oak Pastures Beef Burger, Chicken Burger and local produce

Phil McDonald, Bud & Alley’s Pizza Bar, Seaside, FlL, Hwy 30A

John Jacob, Vintij Wine Boutique, Miramar Beach, FL, Hwy 98

Jenifer Kuntz, Raw & Juicy Airstream, Seaside, FL, Hwy 30A

Say CheezZ, home Grayton Beach, FL (sell at Palafox Market, Apple Market , Seaside Farmers Market to name a few)

Spring Onions and Fresh Mushrooms
Spring Onions and Fresh Mushrooms

 

For more information:

www.ams.usda.gov

www.nourishingpensacola.com A Weston Price Foundation also offering a Pensacola Buying Club on Facebook

http://fl.foodmarketmaker.com/

 

Please feel free to share your favorite places to eat,  and where you like to shop when searching for high quality food, and producers using certified organic and organic like practices. Also, look for The New Florida Table cookbook release late summer-early fall 2015! 

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