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I am grateful that Janice Okun has pointed out that organic produce is available in Western New York, but I take exception to two of her points.

There are good reasons why organic produce costs more. First, it is very expensive to become certified as an organic farm. Land must lie fallow or be untreated for three years before the produce from it can be certified organic.

Second, organic produce is not treated in any way. It is "real" food and therefore it spoils more quickly. Because it is not sprayed and because Americans demand perfect, unblemished fruit, less of the produce is supermarket-ready, leading to higher costs.

On the other hand, when one considers the hidden costs, organic produce is surprisingly reasonable. When I buy organic, I know that the workers who pick my food have not been exposed to dangerous pesticides or chemicals.

I am also preserving land for future generations, because those who farm organically rely on beneficial insects, birds, bats and other helpful creatures. Biodiversity is also preserved when I buy organically.

There are local organic farms that allow people to "subscribe" to the farm and receive fresh, organic farm produce 22 weeks a year. These community-supported agriculture (CSA) projects provide organic produce at a price that works out to about $1 a pound, far less than the retail cost of organic produce.

I am a CSA member of Porter Farms. The advantages are numerous: the local economy and local farmers are supported, the produce is cheaper than in any of the major supermarket or health-food stores, the produce is fresher because it is locally grown and there is the chance to get to know the people who grow your food.


Clarence Center

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