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There's WHAT in the Food???

Updated: Mar 31, 2022


Where does our food come from? More than half of the fresh fruit and almost a third of the fresh vegetables sold in our markets come from other countries! Some varieties of berries have even been altered to be able to grow in warmer climates such as those found in central Mexico. Over the course of the past 20 years, the USDA has developed new regulations that allow produce that was previously unapproved to be imported into the US from other countries. These specific crops were banned due to the risk of them carrying invasive pests and/or diseases with them. The aforementioned new regulations managed the potential hazards by the use of post harvest chemicals. What are post harvest chemicals you ask? Post harvest chemicals are chemicals that have been applied in the field, in the washing water, in transport, in storage, and in packaging. Unlike foods that we buy processed and prepackaged, fresh produce does not come with a label that tells you what you may be ingesting. Thiabendazole (TBZ) is a post harvest fungicide that is added to inhibit the growth of various molds on produce. It is commonly used on citrus and potatoes. Sounds delicious, right? Sodium Hypochlorite is another post harvest chemical that is commonly added and is also the most common ingredient found in household bleach. Yum! This additive helps prevent algae growth and is approved for use by the USDA for organic produce (organically grown does not always mean pesticide or chemical free). Maleic Hydrazide is a compound added to potatoes, onions, and carrots to inhibit sprouting during storage and produces dormancy in citrus fruits. It has been banned in Austria and Denmark. Sulfuryl Fluoride is a fumigant applied to crops after harvest that leaves behind significant amounts of fluoride which is neurotoxic. Then you have the chemicals applied to hasten or delay ripening, colorants that are added to enhance the appearance of your fresh produce (yes you read that correctly), and the additives that may be used to alter texture. These chemicals are better regulated by the EPA on produce that is grown in the US but oftentimes the countries that we import from do not have the same standards and therefore tend to be found in much higher levels. Think about that the next time you take a bite out of your so-called health foods.


As if eating imported produce that is laden with chemicals was not enough of a reason to skip the produce department, it is also not as fresh as you may think. Just how old are the “fresh” fruit and vegetables we purchase at the grocery store? Even American grown fruits and vegetables may not be as fresh as you may think. Not all things are meant for all seasons. Apples are typically harvested in the fall but you may want to eat one in January… Did you know that some of the apples you buy in your local grocery store have been suspended in cold storage for up to 12 months? After coating them in wax they store them by dropping the temperature and the oxygen levels to induce a sleep-like state for 6-12 months before they ship them out to supermarkets. Lettuce is sometimes harvested up to 4 weeks before you take it home to consume it. That pre-washed lettuce in your refrigerator was washed in a chlorine-based compound to keep it “fresh”. The bags of salad mix are stored in Modified Atmosphere Packaging that has had the O2 and CO2 levels altered to slow deterioration. Tomatoes have been successfully kept in cold storage for up to 6 weeks before they are sold in your local produce department. I personally don’t consider completely flavorless tomatoes a success. Then you have to look at the fact that fruit and vegetables which have been picked before they have fully ripened are void of the majority of the nutrients that they are touted to have. Although the tastes of fruits and vegetables is the most notable change that occurs when they are allowed to fully ripen on the vine it is not the only one. Nutritional values also increase which includes higher levels of antioxidants and Vitamin C. Considering the fact that these are important nutrients to keep us healthy and promote our body’s natural defenses, having the maximum amount possible is a good thing.


So what can you do? Buy local! Farmers who grow for local markets are smaller than large importers. They typically grow fewer crops and are better able to observe and react to pests and disease. This allows them to use less or even no chemical intervention. They save costs by not shipping their produce which helps them pass these savings on to you. Did you know that most grocery stores mark up their produce by 50-75%? Twenty percent of fresh produce never even makes it to the shelves due to spoilage during shipping. Vegetables alone have increased 2% in cost since last year and with the recent increase in fuel prices I’m sure we will see many more to come. You are also less likely to find genetically modified crops grown by local farms. Genetically modified seeds are currently only licensed to be sold to large factory-style farms and if they were not, most local farmers would not grow them even if they could. Local farms grow what is in season meaning that what you buy will be freshly picked at peak ripeness and full of flavor. Local farmers rely on business from their community and therefore hold themselves to higher standards. They feed their family the same produce they are selling to you so you can guarantee what you are buying is going to be a quality product.


Want to buy from Riggin Farm? We will be selling at the Jasper Farmers Market in Jasper, GA. We also have CSA subscriptions available to purchase. What does this include? A bag full of 8-12 types of in season, fresh produce grown right on our farm in Talking Rock, GA. You can choose if you want a weekly, biweekly, or monthly bag. You can choose if you would like a small or a large bag based on the number of people in your household. You have the option of adding on some of our other available products such as fresh flower bouquets, farm fresh eggs, whole pasture raised chicken, or a whole rabbit. We will be raising turkey for sale later in the year so keep an eye out for one of those as well as our fresh pork that will be ready in August. Why should you buy a subscription? Our bags are filled before we go to market so you get the best prices available and lock in your rate for the season no matter what happens to the rest of the economy. Buying locally is not just about our farm. Of course we want your business but most of all we want our community to be healthy and know where their food comes from and what has been added to it. We all have the right to eat healthy food at an affordable cost and at Riggin Farm that is what we strive to accomplish. You shouldn’t have to risk quality to feed your family and we want to help our family, friends, and neighbors live healthier lives!





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I’m excited for first purchase of their fresh vegetables. I’ve been very happy with their farm fresh eggs.

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