Jackson Hole, WY News

I’ve finally recovered from eating way too much at a Thanksgiving feast — and let’s not even talk about all the yummy leftovers.

This year one of my friends went completely organic: organic turkey, organic vegetables, the works. Good for her for supporting the organic movement. Or should I call it the organic philosophy?

I’ve seen the word “organic” tossed about a lot in connection with food and gardens. But what does it really mean?

The organic mindset takes the long view, one might say.

Generally speaking, organic gardening excludes the use of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides and other such products that disturb the balance of the ecosystem. “Certified organic” is a much more stringent designation handed out by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. For example, chemical herbicides, fungicides or fertilizers must not have been used in production fields for at least three years. There are also rules against the inclusion of any genetically modified organisms, better known as GMOs.

For me one of the best reasons to garden organically is to protect the natural benefits provided by worms, bugs — yes, there really are good bugs out there — and other garden creatures. If you douse your plants with toxins you will kill the caterpillars that turn into butterflies, the ladybugs that eat aphids and the spiders that keep other creepy crawlies under control.

In addition to organic, I have heard the word “locavore” more frequently. Locavores are people who choose to eat food grown locally, defined as anything within 100 to 250 miles of their home.

Locavores believe locally grown food is fresher, better tasting and more nutritious and provides a better diet than typical supermarket food. I admit I’m a believer — with a few exceptions. Without tea, coffee or chocolate, what is the point of even getting out of bed in the morning?

Eating like a locavore could be an eye-opening experience, though, especially during a long winter. I read a funny story about some folks who, when they discovered they wouldn’t be able to eat many carbs, considered turnips slices in place of bread to make a sandwich. That’s a little extreme for my tastes. Eating locally should be a pleasure, not a burden.

“Farm to table” is another phrase you may have heard recently. The idea is to curb the number of steps it can take for food to get to a plate. It’s a worthy movement, and you don’t really need to give anything up. Just buy locally — eggs, cheese, chickens, fruits and vegetables or any other edibles, even garden flowers — whenever you can.

Gardening guru Marilyn Quinn shares her green thumb knowledge monthly in the fall and winter. Contact her by emailing columnists@jhnewsandguide.com.

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