THE AGRICULTURE industry is steeped in history and tradition, but it is also constantly on the cutting edge of technology and everchanging. As the world population grows, issues like environmentalism and feeding billions of hungry mouths are just a few that farmers, ranchers, and others in agriculture face every day.
The USDA recently announced the organic market is growing at a steady clip, with a record-setting 19,474 organic producers in the nation. All told, the organic industry has grown by more than 250 percent since 2002. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack believes the organic trend will continue to grow, offering the potential for rural family farming operations to thrive. The USDA is creating the Organic Integrity Database — set to launch in September 2015 — that will offer online tools to track and confirm a food’s organic roots with accurate and timely data.
However, traditional vegetable and fruit producers want consumers to know that conventionally grown produce is just as safe and nutritious. In an effort to balance the conversation about the safety of traditional produce, the Alliance for Food and Farming’s Safe Fruits and Veggies Initiative has successfully advocated since 2010 to educate the public about the security of produce grown in the U.S. They offer a pesticide “calculator” on their website to show how many servings a day of certain fruits or vegetables — usually hundreds or thousands of servings — can be eaten with no ill-effects from pesticide residues.
In short, U.S. consumers have never had such safe and nutritious options when it comes to fresh fruits and vegetables.
column by MIKE MARTIN
BIO: Michael Martin of Martin Law Office in Lakeland specializes in agriculture and environmental legal representation. A native of Polk County, Mike attended college at Sewanee in Tennessee, before obtaining a doctorate in law from the University of Florida and has tried numerous cases nationwide since that time. Mike also serves as the director of the FFA Foundation and is the author of the novel, The Crestfallen Rose.