electronic Gourmet Guide


At the Market


Many of us just don't have the time to drive out to a u-pick farm and get our own produce. So how does the organic produce trend affect us when we walk into the supermarket? Well, it's starting to become more apparent. Wegman's, a supermarket chain in Western and Central New York, has redesigned their produce sections to highlight these farms. Heirloom vegetables are displayed prominently, with descriptions of their heritage and flavor. Local produce is displayed in its own area, complete with a picture of the farmer who grew the vegetables. Ultimately, it comes down to quality. By having locally grown produce in our markets, we are getting the best of the harvest right then and there, not what was picked and shipped a week ago and still isn't ripe.

One other benefit to us is something we don't get at the market—environmental peace of mind. When we patronize an organic farmer we are doing what the bumper sticker says: "Think globally, act locally". We are helping our own local environment stay clear of groundwater and air pollution and helping foster the survival of native species. I'll bet you didn't think buying a head of lettuce could do that, and it's easier than separating plastic from aluminum.

The most important difference for many of us is the price. Why is organic produce so much more expensive and is it justified? A lot has to do with perception. Organic produce is more expensive for several reasons. First, it is more labor intensive. You can't just go out and spray for weeds and bugs. You have to take the time and try to eliminate the temptation for the bug (weak, stressed plants) and you have to remove the weeds by hand. That's a lot of labor when you have 300 acres planted.

Second, we are comparing Granny Smith apples to Golden Delicious (pardon the metaphor). Let's compare two cases of Romaine lettuce, one organic and one commercial. Both contain 24 heads, both cost pretty much the same per case. But the commercial case weighs more, hence a lower price per pound. But why does the commercial case weigh more? Because the heads are allowed to grow larger. So? you say. In a commercial case of Romaine the heads must be packed into the case very tightly. This will bruise the outer leaves. Also, the vegetable itself is very high in water content. Because the lettuce is older (having grown longer), the leaves are not as tender.

When you buy a head of commercial lettuce, you end up trimming off the bruised and tough outer leaves before you can eat it. Now compare that head of Romaine to an organically grown, tender, flavorful product with no bruised leaves to discard. When you make the comparison now, the price difference is negligible. And finally, one more reason organics are more expensive—because it is marketed as a premium product compared to the same old regular produce (just like gasoline).

Organic Farming

About the Author

Joe LaVilla originally hails from Rochester, in western New York State. Deciding to forgo his love of food, Joe pursued a degree in chemistry from Cornell University. After obtaining his Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry from the Univ. Of Rochester, he gave in to the inevitable and returned to his culinary calling. A graduate with honors of the Culinary Institute of America, Joe has worked in Manhattan, Washington, D.C. And at Spago in Las Vegas before settling in Phoenix, where he is currently working in off-premise catering. His excellent article "The Nuances of Cooking with Wine: Answers to Common Questions" appeared in the November 1997 issue of The electronic Gourmet Guide.

This page originally published as part of the electronic Gourmet Guide between 1994 and 1998.

Copyright © 2007, Forkmedia LLC. All rights reserved.

Arrow to Top

This page modified February 2007

The Global Gourmet
The Global Gourmet®
Main Page


Irish Recipes for
St. Patrick's Day

   Clip to Evernote

Bookmark and Share


Twitter: @KateHeyhoe

Search this site:

Advanced Search
Recent Searches


Kate's Global Kitchen
Kate's Books
Cookbook Profiles
Global Destinations
Holiday & Party Recipes
I Love Desserts
On Wine

Caffeine and You Caffeine and You
cooking kids Cooking with Kids
new green basics New Green Basics

Conversions, Charts
   & Substitutions

About the
Global Gourmet®
   Contact Info
   Privacy Statement

Recent Cookbooks

Cooking Italian
175 Home Recipes
4-Hour Chef
Bakery Cookbook
Barefoot Contessa
Bouchon Bakery
Burma: Rivers of Flavor
Cake Mix Doctor
Comfort Food
Craft of Coffee
Crazy Sexy Kitchen
Daily Cookie
Fifty Shades Chicken
French Slow Cooker
Frontera - Rick Bayless
Gluten-Free Quick & Easy
Jerusalem: A Cookbook
Kitchen Science
Lidia's Favorite Recipes
Make-Ahead and Freeze
Modern Milkshakes
Modernist Cuisine
Mystic Cookbook
Paleo Slow Cooking
Picky Palate
Pop Bakery
Practical Paleo
Quick Family Cookbook
Sensational Cookies
Smitten Kitchen
Southern Living Recipes
Sweet Life in Paris
Trader Joe's Vegetarian
True Food
Whole Larder

More Cookbooks


Kitchen & Home


Copyright © 1994-2013,
Forkmedia LLC



cat toysCatnip Toys

Kitchen & Home