Which are best? Organically grown vegetables or non-organic? For us, the jury is still out. We have tasted both 'blind' and have not been able to tell the difference to any marked degree.
If you are an 'organic' person, then of course organic vegetables will always taste better for you. The supermarkets will love you , because they can charge you a premium for marking some of their goods 'organic'! However, research into the 'taste' elements of organic or commercially produced food, has failed to demonstrate this. (5)
Any differences that we found have been ascribed to the fact that many 'organic' foods have a lower water content, which could increase the taste level, rather than dilute it! Water levels of both types of vegetables however, have not been proved to be significantly different - and hard to correctly assess owing to wide uncontrolled variations in growing environment.
At one time, all vegetables were grown organic. Nowadays, most are grown with the use of synthetic fertilisers. Be aware that the vast proportion of food is produced by the use of chemical fertilisers, and we are all getting healthier and living longer.
You have the choice between fertilisers that are by and large highly regulated in the way they are manufactured and tested on the one hand, and the compost you make in your own garden from all manner of things on the other!
You cannot simply grow your vegetables organically, and then pursue 'normal' garden activities nearby. Taking it to the extreme, can you justifiably drive your car into the garden driveway - spewing out its dose of carbon monoxide?
In practical life, there are varying degrees of organic gardening. This is also so in the case of Organic Vegetables. In commercial terms, supermarkets quickly found organic sources of supply for the vegetables that they were able to sell at a premium. Organic farming cannot 'suddenly' for if the farm has been used in the 'normal' manner - ie with synthetic fertilisers and pesticides, then it needs years for that are to become truly organic.
So, for there to be a sudden upsurge in the provision of organic vegetables for sale, it would have meant vast areas of virgin land being turned round into production. That would have taken several years, and not simply happen at the whim of a food retailer.
Bearing in mind that the other selling point for these organic vegetables, was the fact that they were generally farmed locally or bought in from organic producers that were already in the organic growing business abroad.
Unless you live at the top of a mountain in an urban area, there will be traces of inorganic substances in your soil. With that in mind, your produce can only be partially organic. You cannot change the course of history which has already decided to dump pollutants on to your plot since industrialisation. The best you can do, is to try and make certain that you and your growing methods, do not further 'pollute' your soil.
This is where organic gardening comes into play. It has little instant effect, but it is a noble statement of intent. You cannot change the past, although you can go some way to negating its affect upon your plot over the years. In reality, this 'intent' will allow you peace of mind in that you are doing your bit for your own and local environment. You can start using organic methods with this in mind.
I am firmly on the side of cultivating a healthy soil, and the best way to do this is to add copious amounts of assorted organic manures. I am also firmly on the side of giving the plants a quick snack by way of chemical fertilisers if required. It is all a matter of balance.
Nature has a wonderful way of dealing with all the ills that we thrust upon it. All but the most insidious of chemicals are 'dealt with' by the action of various natural cycles.
Large scale organic food production stopped with the rapid growth of world population increase. The world at large is fed with crops which are not grown organically. Populations continue to grow, and also live more healthily and for longer than every before. This has coincided with intensified farming methods. Sadly, not all share in this utopia.
The most important thing to consider when trying to grow organically, is the soil. The same is true if you decide to go the non-organic way. The soil is where it all happens. If the soil is in good condition, with regular dressings of manure and compost, then you are part way to being an 'organic grower'. Whether or not your own produce will be better in terms of providing nourishment and added taste is another matter! To help you along your route into organic gardening of vegetables, read about organic or synthetic fertilisers.
By far the least inspiring attempt at organic growing methods was at one of the country's organic showpieces. If anything it proved to me that moderation and responsibility are far more important - and productive - than a big compost heap! Happy Composting!
In the extreme, organic gardeners could take the advice of the number one organic expert in the UK - Bob Flowerdew - and save their urine, dilute it 40:1 and feed plants with it. It is after all high in Nitrogen, and simply an assortment of chemicals!
Now you have to make up your mind how to kill the greenflies etc!