A recent debate on another site for the more mature browser really surprised me. Being of the mature generation myself, I was surprised to read my contemporaries ranting on about the 'waste of money', 'all a con', 'just a way to charge more' and so on.
So what was this dreadful new-fangled invention that was being slated in no uncertain terms? Well, organic food production was the criminal in question. The reaction really did surprise me and it set me to wondering what foodstuffs were like in my growing up days, and were they really as good as my memory would have me believe?
I grew up in a posh part of Cheshire, in the suburbs. Our house was on a quiet, leafy road, with open fields at the back and clear views across to Lyme Park. Behind our garden was a small market garden and my mother would often send me there to buy food
The warm earthy smell of the tomatoes in the greenhouses, the waxy feel of the delicious Cheshire potatoes, every bit as good as Jersey Royals. Just shopping for them really got the appetite going and I couldn't wait to hurry home with my load and hand them over to my mother to start cooking.
In those days there was not this obsessive uniformity of modern supermarket shopping. Mother didn't send me back to demand a refund if we had bendy carrots, knobbly potatoes or misshapen tomatoes. They all tasted wonderful, no matter what they looked like
It's nice to look back with rose-tinted hindsight and imagine they were all organically produced, but I doubt it. DDT use wasn't banned in the UK until 1984, so we all probably ingested a fair bit of that in our time. I was discussing the organic issue with an old friend, from the same part of Cheshire as I am, who reminded me that in order to produce the delicious Cheshire potatoes, all the land had to be liberally treated with lime to counteract the acid soil, so we undoubtedly ate a lot of that, too.
I like to grow my own fruit and vegetables organically, but not in an obsessive way. If things need treating and there is no effective natural alternative, I will buy the least harmful but effective preparation I can find
The same friend also reminded me that not having chemicals in the arsenal for times of dire need has resulted in the past in some major catastrophes, such as the Irish potato famine in the nineteenth century.
Recycled roof tiles used to make one metre square kitchen garden beds for easy crop rotation and companion planting
So why is there such a vehement outpouring against the organic movement today from some quarters? In particular, why are people of our own generation seemingly so vehemently opposed? Organic food is expensive, of course, but that is because it cost much more overall to produce. I believe it takes seven years of organic growing to get certified as an organic producer. That's a lot of years to recoup in the sale price
Isn't it better for us all, though? Doesn't it taste better? Wouldn't many of us buy it exclusively, if we could afford to? Or is there something sinister about the organic movement than a tree-hugging, patchouli-oil-wearing old hippy like me hasn't understood?
Enjoying the fruits of my own production, cooked on a rocket stove with bits of twigs found lying around, so the fuel cost is zero
Where do you stand on organic produce? Yes please? Or no, I prefer my carrots tasteless and all the same size and shape, all neatly washed and wrapped for me in the supermarket?
There is a great recipe on the PositiveHealthWellness website here for making carrot juice.
Photos by author Susie Kelly.