I just returned from our fabu Sat farmers market. There are about 30 vendors there. I think only 2 are organic! Those folks sell out of everything by 9AM. Their prices are steep too. The organic meat vendors have lines around the corner. There are not nearly enough veggies. I live in a agriculture meca (the river delta on 3 sides of me). I just am baffled why there are not more organic farmers. I am scratching my at this upside down supply and demand issue. What are your thoughts on the lack and/or surplus of organic farmers.
I think a lot of it is the certification process. Many of those growers may use all or mostly organic techniques, but the way I understand it the process to get certified as organic (which is what you need in order to be able to tell people that your stuff is organic) is either painful or expensive or both so many smaller farmers probably decide it's not worth it. If I were you I'd talk to some of the people who aren't organic and learn about their farming practices, you may find out that you can feel comfortable buying from some of the non-organic ones too if all they're missing is the certification.
Now that big business has taken an interest, organic certification has been priced out of the reach of many small family farms. Some states had stricter standards than others but the current federal administration mandated all programs match the national one, which was the weakest. A grower is not legally allowed to use the term "organic" unless they are certified. Some farms try to get around this be calling their products "naturally grown". As ecrane said, talk to the farmer about their growing practices. You may find some that are organic but can't legally call themselves that.
Good input Garden and Ecrane. I didn't know that one could not call their gardening 'organic' unless it was certified. I always thought "certified organic" was simply a higher tier. These other farmers at the market appear to be buying their veggies from elsewhere. Everything is stocked piled on the vending tables so high and pretty while there are commercial produce boxes galore under their tables and in their trucks. I will begin conversations with these farmers to try and get to the bottom of it. I am still keely curious on this subject.
deltaqueen, please keep in mind that many family farmers ARE commercial growers...in other words, that's how they make their living, from their farm products. We buy organic strawberries from a farmer who packs his produce in commercial flats (boxes). So do talk to them. You may be able to arrange a farm tour.