Local Produce vs Organic

by Organikal on July 12, 2006

GoatscheeseGoats cheese. That’s what we end up eating a lot of in France. Organic goats cheese is available at the Domaine de Gavaudun. Yet it’s not marketed as bio*.

As I mentioned in a previous blog, shopping at the French supermarkets did not yield a lot of food labelled organic. We found some – predominantly pre-packed ready made items such as tea, coffee, sauces etc – but what was predominant was local food.

A conversation with our generous host, Michelle let us understand that the goats from whence the milk for the cheese was got, belonged to their neighbours. They had a smallish piece of land on which to graze the goats, and because they were determined to create the best cheese from the healthiest goats, they didn’t use chemical fertilisers to generate enough food to feed the goats. Michelle therefore let the goats graze on some of their land so their intake produced a good yield, free from chemicals.

She explained that good, natural produce was predominant in the local farms, which are generally small, family-owned businesses. It may not be labelled organic, but in many cases it would be more organic than many of the so-called “bio” products.

Organic just isn’t a driver for the local farmers. There is such a reputation for good food that what they do is produce good food. Quite naturally that involves farming without the overuse of commercial pesticides and such. No doubt, there will be some – but certainly not on the scale of our non-organic farmers.

Michelle isn’t an expert – an of course, neither are we, and no doubt there will be some naysayers out to prove us wrong, but our conversation and general experience there re-focused our desire to shop locally – and moreover, to grow more of our own. I can see the football pitch out back being reduced quite radically to make way for larger vegetable beds very soon!

*French use the term biodynamique as we do organic. I’m not sure where they stand on biodynamic farming, where the seasons and the moon determine the planting.

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