I am a non-organic, gmo-planting, crop protectant spraying, conventional farmer and I buy organic tomatoes.
I am a mom of two little boys, one who was born with health issues. Both boys love eating tomatoes, possibly because I ate massive amounts of tomatoes while I was pregnant. I buy organic tomatoes.
I don’t think any farmer, our family included, would produce a crop that we wouldn’t feed our own children. I am completely confident that our non-organic farm is just as good for the environment and produces a completely safe product and yet I still buy organic tomatoes.
So the questions is why? Why would I use GMO seeds and glyphosate on my farm but buy organic tomatoes to eat?
The answer for me is very simple. It comes down to taste. I am a tomato lover and that means I want the very best tasting tomatoes for me and my family. So I buy organic tomatoes.
No I don’t think that organic tomatoes taste better. But I do think heirloom tomatoes taste better. Heirloom tomatoes are old breeds of tomatoes. They haven’t been bred to withstand shipping or to be perfectly round, red and devoid of flavor. When the fairy godmother of tomatoes came down and granted wishes, heirloom tomatoes were ok with being the ugly step sister, so long as they got to stay delicious.
For years I have grown my own tomatoes. But life happens and tending hundreds of acres of crops means my own garden plot gets no love. So instead of walking out to grab one of my favorite varieties from my own yard, I end up at our local farmer’s market buying my tomatoes. I have yet to find someone growing and selling heirloom tomatoes that doesn’t label them as organically produced. I’m sure they exist but they aren’t at our local markets where I shop.
In non-organic farmer circles there is a strong push to use your dollar to vote. Meaning, we should only buy products that support our way of farming. There are all out boycotts of any company that uses the Non-GMO butterfly logo on their label. I myself called for a boycott of Panera years ago over a marketing campaign that they launched. I refuse to spend a dime of my money at Chipotle because of their constant attacks against conventional farming, and yet I have absolutely no shame or guilt buying organic tomatoes. I do buy into the idea that my dollar is also my vote but I see where those of us in agriculture are blind to how that works when it comes to our own crops and products.
You see the fact is that if conventional agriculture refuses to give people what they want, in my case delicious heirloom tomatoes, people are going to use their dollar to buy and vote for something else.
For too long the agriculture industry has ignored what people want and continued to produce what and how we always have. Meanwhile niche markets to fit the vast array of what people are asking for have popped up and rightfully claimed a piece of the pie. Putting farmers in competition that we haven’t really ever known.
I buy organic tomatoes. I don’t buy them because I think they are safer for my family or the environment than conventional tomatoes. I don’t buy them because I don’t support regular tomato farmers. I buy them because I support the farmer that grows them, regardless of labels. They took a risk on doing something different and that something met my desire for unique, tasty tomatoes.
As a conventional farmer, I am always listening to what I hear people say that they want from me. I know that what some people are looking for won’t be something that our farm will try to produce, and that’s OK. I am not going to waste my energy working against the farmer who does. No matter how much we fight against it, “the customer is always right” holds true, even in agriculture, even if we don’t like it.
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