Thursday, January 4, 2007

Healthy choices abound at new organic market

By RICH MONETTI, Correspondent, The Lewisboro Ledger, (NY),January 4, 2007

South Salem's Ian Diamond
Healthy choices abound at new organic market

Organic food costs more than its "regular" counterparts more commonly found in local grocery markets. As a result, many of us choose to buy based on the lower prices at the supermarket. But longtime organic industry consumer and retailer Ian Diamond thinks that logic does not add up.

"When you just make a choice based purely on price then it's not a particularly educated decision," he said, "something that's true for corn on the cob or the car you just bought." Mr. Diamond now hopes his newly opened The Organic Connection in Brewster can help put people 's approach to food in line with the way they make the rest of their purchases.

Mr. Diamond, of South Salem, has just opened The Organic Connection Fresh Food Market at 981 Route 22 in Brewster, where he serves all-natural and organic foods.

Those in serious or moderate consideration of trying organic foods might first join Mr. Diamond in putting their money where their mouth is. The overall mindset in large-scale conventional farming places quantity over quality and size over taste.

Chemical pesticides allow fruits and vegetables you find in supermarkets to grow larger but not necessarily better. The larger product, he said, retains much more water than that of those grown on organic farms. From there, it's easy to infer which choice is more likely to make your mouth water.

In addition, he believes beef and chicken that come under the title of organic will go over in the same manner.

"You go into the supermarket and you see this green pastured picture on the front with a contented cow chewing on grass - that's marketing nonsense," he said. Instead, factory-farmed animals are usually crammed into some corner somewhere, devoid of a good quality of life. This makes for unhealthy animals - yielding a lower quality meat with inferior taste, he said.

Taste aside, conventional farming practices have the effect of leaving behind the chemical pesticides and fertilizers for our insides - something that is especially harmful for children.

"They show up with pesticides in their systems, and as soon as they go on an organic diet," he said, "the pesticides that show up reduces enormously."

The same idea applies to the soil and the damage conventional farming does to the environment. More and more chemicals end up in the soil from a technique that focuses primarily on producing maximum yield.

"There are pollution problems from that, there are environmental problems from that, and there are sustainability problems from that," he said.

In terms of a livestock product that puts quantity over quality, health issues are also a concern. Besides the problems of animals being fed with inorganic food, the risk associated with bovine growth hormone can probably speak for itself even if the short-term effect does not, Mr. Diamond said. What can be determined more readily are the problems associated with the use of antibiotics on farm animals. The drugs then show up in our systems and reduce the effectiveness of antibiotics in our bodies when we get sick.

Mr. Diamond got his start in an organic and holistic lifestyle through his father in Australia. A doctor, his father began questioning some of the practices used in conventional medicine and extended his thinking to include conventional food choices.

From there, Mr. Diamond became an organic food consumer in 1979 and went into the industry in 1984 with an organic food delivery business. Of the products at his market, 99% are all natural, as are the prepared foods he offers.

For the future, he sees the movement continuing to grow with more and more organic markets opening and with organic sections in all the supermarkets. He feels it is important to point out that conventional farming is a heavily subsidized industry. This means that the true cost difference between the foods is an exaggerated one and the producers who farm against the grain deserve our support.

"They're not looking for subsidizing; they're looking for a fair reward for their hard work," he said.

For more information: 845- 279-2290 or organicconnection. com.

This is some of the fresh, organic food available at the new Brewster market The Organic Connection. Owner Ian Diamond of South Salem recently opened the market after years in the organic industry.