By Joe Romano,
The goldenrod is yellow, The corn is turning brown, The trees in apple orchards, With fruit are bending down.
— Helen Hunt Jackson
Eve ate one. Teachers love them, too. They keep doctors away, and they are as American as baseball, at least when baked in a pie. Long lauded as a panacea for health, good looks, and longevity, it has, sadly, come time to ask, "Is the American apple safe to eat?"
In a major step toward bringing genetically modified (GM) apples to market, the US Department of Agriculture announced a decision on Friday, the 13th of February to allow "Arctic" GM apples to be grown in the wild with no further oversight. The USDA claimed that "the GE [genetically engineered] apples are unlikely to pose a plant pest risk to agriculture and other plants in the United States." Arctic apples won't become available in most produce aisles until 2017 at the earliest. The reason behind the genetic modification of one of our most familiar foods? To keep it from getting brown when it is no longer fresh.
So, what does the USDA mean when they say "unlikely to pose a risk"? For years, those concerned about GMOs have been told that they are "safe" and that there is a "scientific consensus" to back that up. A quick look at the literature confirms that story. The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), a group that stands by both evolution and human-caused climate change, states uncategorically,
The science is quite clear: crop improvement by the modern molecular techniques of biotechnology is safe ... The World Health Organization, the American Medical Association, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the British Royal Society, and every other respected organization that has examined the evidence has come to the same conclusion: consuming foods containing ingredients derived from GM crops is no riskier than consuming the same foods containing ingredients from crop plants modified by conventional plant improvement techniques.
By Kristie Snyder,
It all starts with a seed. Whatever your produce of choice, wherever it came from, it started with a seed. Those heirloom tomatoes you wait for all year? Started with a seed. That loaf of fresh-baked bread — started with a seed. Your morning bowl of oatmeal — seed. Seeds are foundational to all of plant agriculture, yet they're often the overlooked component in a sustainable food system.
Petra Page-Mann and Michael Goldfarb started out as small-scale farmers with little awareness of what went into seed production. Over time, they became concerned about a lack of regional seed varieties, the loss of seed diversity, and the concentration of seed growers into a few huge companies. To allay these concerns, they created Fruition Seeds, a company that offers certified-organic, non-GMO, open-pollinated seeds specifically bred for Northeastern growing conditions.
Based in Naples, NY, about 60 miles west of Ithaca, Petra and Michael not only grow stocks of reliable heirloom and open-pollinated seeds for farmers and home gardeners alike, but they collaborate with farmers across the Finger Lakes, including, in this area, GreenStar suppliers Remembrance and Blue Heron Farms. Recognizing that every grower has unique needs, Fruition Seeds works with farmers to improve or create varieties suited specifically to their farm and market — refining old varieties for better performance, breeding entirely new varieties, and "untangling" hybrid seed stock (breeding its offspring into open-pollinated varieties that resemble their parents).
By Tina Wright
New craft hard ciders are jumping into the market almost monthly, according to GreenStar's Grocery Manager Adam Morris. He says, "Cider sales are on the rise as more and more people recognize the great taste, the fact that cider is naturally gluten-free, and their desire to support the local food web." Craft ciders are starting to give craft beers a run for their money. GreenStar sold $17,721's worth of hard cider in 2013.
A longtime supplier to our store, Bellwether Hard Cider in Trumansburg has been a lonely outpost of hard cidery on the fringe of Finger Lakes wine country for years, but now they have enough local competition to easily help float the third annual Finger Lakes Craft Cider Week, October 3-12.
The local cider week includes one of the newer cider makers to be carried by GreenStar, Harvest Moon Cidery from Cazenovia. Adam says, "I'm personally very happy to see local apple farmers finding a niche for value-added products in the form of hard ciders. Each local or regional cider we carry represents another strand in the local food web, and I'm proud that our co-op helps get these ciders to customers in the Finger Lakes."
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New in Produce
|Grow Your Own - Seedlings Are Coming!|
Yearning for green? Look for Blue Heron seedlings to arrive mid-month! Get your garden off to a great organic start.
This month is statistically characterized by rapidly rising temperatures, from the 40s into the 60s, and I will not argue against that! Ladies and gentlemen, dogs and cats, yeti and sasquatch, Jedi and Sith — welcome to April. Bear with us for the return of local abundance as farms thaw and begin to grow. Remembrance Farm still has carrots, purple-top turnips, and parsnips, if their supply holds out. The biggest rejoicing should come from this next tidbit of information: Blue Heron seedlings. That's right, Blue Heron Farm's perennial and annual plants will be available by mid-April. Ever thought about growing tomatoes, basil, peppers, flowers, cucumbers, squash, strawberries, asparagus, and many more amazing types of vegetation? Then pick up some Blue Heron plants, or start from scratch with local, organic Fruition Seeds, organic High Mowing, or organic Hudson Valley seeds in our organic potting soil and growing mix. Spring is here!