Organic foods are taking up more and more shelf space in retail
outlets, even ones as large as Wal-Mart. The mega chain announced
plans to add 1,000 organic products to its stock this summer.
"What I've discovered about eating these vegetables, it really
makes you feel better," says Catherine Smith, a Clarksville organic
The numbers show Smith is not
alone in her belief in the superiority of organic produce, which is
grown without the use of pesticides, chemicals or artificial
fertilizers of any kind. In 1980, Americans spent $178 million on
organic foods. By 2005, they spent $51 billion on organic and
natural products, including $13.8 billion on organic foods and $65
million on organic pet products.
Those numbers are growing every day. Based on member surveys, the
Organic Trade Association reported last month that organic food
sales are expected to hit $16 billion by the end of this year.
Still, only a small percentage of readily available foods in
grocery stores are organic. Smith is on a mission to make fresh,
locally grown organic foods available to Clarksvillians. Each
Wednesday, now through October, boxes of produce from the organic
farm at Doalnara Restoration Society in Dover will be delivered to
members of a new Community Supported Agriculture project Smith
started earlier this month.
Smith came up with the idea of starting a Community Supported
Agriculture program in Clarksville after starting a small community
garden as a ministry of St. John's Episcopal Church, which is led by
her husband, the Rev. Patrick Smith. The church's Web site, http://www.stjohnsclarksville.org/, suggests
people take "the journey toward healing and wholeness; the journey
back to the garden."
Although the Web site refers to the purity of the Garden of Eden
before it was sullied by man's sin, the Smiths also believe in the
healing powers of a pure garden today.
Patrick Smith says people need to reclaim the soil and realize
their bodies are God's temples. People are healthier and feel better
when they're not eating foods tainted with pesticides, he says.
The reasons to eat organic are many. Eating organic foods
prevents exposure to residues from poisons used to combat insects
and weeds in conventional agriculture.
"We don't use any kind of weed killers or chemicals," says JC
Kim, farm supervisor at Doalnara.
Some studies indicate organic vegetables have more nutrients than
their chemically grown counterparts. The issue is still being
analyzed, but organic food proponents says soil practices used on
organic farms guarantee more nutrition in every bite of organic
Katherine Choo, a former nurse in California who now farms at
Doalnara, says she uses rice to harvest microorganisms from
surrounding fields, then adds them to the all-natural compost that
fertilizes Doalnara's crops.
"The plants can't take the nutrients directly from the
fertilizer" because the nutrients' molecules are too large, says
Doalnara farmer Andy Yoo. "The microorganisms breaks the nutrients
down for the plants to use. It's the most essential part of
"It's the foundation of farming," Choo says.
Nutrient-filled, chemical-free soil yields nutrient-filled,
"These vegetables are packed with so many nutrients compared to
conventional vegetables," Smith says.
Catherine Smith says the project will bring food to locals'
tables just hours after it was growing at Doalnara, avoiding the
pre-ripened picking and weeks of shipping and storage that most
imported produce suffers.
"They pick the vegetables the day they deliver them," she says
about the farmers at Doalnara.
People who want to squeeze every ounce of benefit out of their
vegetable consumption should avoid the microwave, stove and oven,
"Eating raw is best," Choo says. "You get all of the vegetable's
enzymes. It gives much energy to you."
Jennifer Nam, who also works on the farm at Doalnara, says she
often has her breakfast right in the field.
"In summertime, we eat raw corn. You pick it and eat it," she
says. "It's so good."
Nam speculates that eating freshly picked, raw food is a bite of
heaven on earth.
"When we go to heaven, we are probably going to eat like this,"
she says. "We won't have kitchens in heaven."