Organic Farming May be Outgrowing its Ideals

December 2011 · Chef John Reed, CEC, CCA

I started my working career on a organic farm at the age of 11. I understand how hard it is to maintain a stocked shelf of ripe and ready produce even during the growing season. I worked on a small 1 acre farm that was completely organic for its time in the mid 70’s. Natural fertilizers made from animal manure and cut nettles were part of our watering supply once a week to help restore the soil. Hand harvesting and pest control by walking the fields with a small can where we would deposit the the bugs we picked of the leaves. However we only sold what we where able to pick that day. If we couldn’t dig carrots then we didn’t sell them and if the tomatoes were still green then no tomatoes. Things were as they should be.  We picked local and seaonal products when they were supposed to be served. It tasted better and it was nourishing to the soul.

Organic is only one part of a proclaimed green lifestyle that we are trying to live up to today.  What about the plastic containers that mass-marketed organic produced is packed in and the distances they travel on trucks burning gas? The biggest issue I have is that these products are still being sold out of our natural local growing season. Living in the mid-west for the last 13 years I know if I took a drive to our local farms I wouldn’t see any growing this time of year. However If I drove to the preferred so called natural foods market I can find asparagus, hierloom tomatoes all being shipped in from thousands of miles away.

It is hard to give up tomatoes in December for most people because we always have access to them even if the quality is poor at best. I may not be able to influence the mass markets but I can help the restaurant and caterer reverse this problem through good menu design and better choices in the ingredients that you choose throughout the year. Set your business apart by consciously making better choices. Your potential clients come to you because your are an expert in your business whether planning a party or writing a daily menu. Show them this by creating a program that celebrates the efforts of local farmers, artisans and mother nature.

>Organic farming may be outgrowing its ideals

John Reed
Chef John Reed, CEC, CCA
John Reed is a professional chef with over 30 years experience. John has extensive knowledge of culinary techniques, ethnic cuisines, food history and more!

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