The Search for Honest Organic Produce in Shenzhen China
If you are like me and you are new to China, there are certain types of food that you will quickly find are really hard to find here. For me personally, my biggest hurdle was finding fresh organic veggies and meats that were actually “fresh” and “organic.” I have run into many companies who claimed that they were but weren’t, in fact, the opposite. Usually, my local friends can tell me what is fresh and what is not but even they have a hard time explaining to me if something is in fact “organic” vs. just freshly harvested.
In western culture, organic veggies and meats have become very popular as buyers of produce became more educated on the facts about GMOS, pesticides, and steroids, etc. With this new found knowledge came the “juicer” culture bringing much more education into the need of fresh and organic vegetables to be juiced and drank raw. Being an advent juicer myself, I know the hardest part of juicing overseas for me personally, is making sure that the ingredients I am using are safe and free of chemicals as I am literally eating a raw product and that would bring a lot worse than good to my system if the product contains harmful chemicals.
That said, I began to ask around about organic suppliers in the Shenzhen area and actually was surprised to even find a small handful of companies who claimed to be certified organic farms but didn’t provide much proof into how or why they were organic. This was until I ran into Pristine Farms.
Pristine Farms, so far, were the only source that was completely transparent and allowed me and a group of others to go to their farm and see first hand how they grow, harvest and care for their meat and produce. To help me and my friends to understand further, we were lucky to have Jodie with us who does marketing for the farm.
“Seeing where your food is coming from is the most important way to know and trust the food your buying”
– JODIE, Marketing
Jodie has been working on the farm for a bit over a year, which is located in Huizhou, Jinju Natural Conservation Area. The farm operated for 2 years independently before opening itself to the public in a CSA style agreement. This means “Community Supported Agriculture” agreement whereby Pristine Farms will strive to provide a full range of crops instead of just a specific product (like what you’d see in a “milk farm” or “chicken farm”) that can support an average family. This can be anything from eggs, berries, greens, fruits, meats and sometimes even cheeses if cows are involved in the farm. The production is done right – growing only vegetation that is relevant for the season. Currently, there are over 40 varieties in production from rice, peanuts, and greens – to bananas and other varieties.
So the question concerning organic stems on how the product is produced, maintained and kept from bugs. It is very important at Pristine Farms that the vegetation is produced in a safe and organic way. Many other farms can have the organic label that you see at the Wal-Marts or Ole shops but this doesn’t necessarily mean that what you are buying is an organic product since the label comes from a soil sample taken from the farm and does not speak for the whole production. That said, many farms can have a patch of land that is kept and sampled in order to get the organic label placed on other products that may not necessarily be grown on the same soil. Due to this fact, Pristine Farms puts a strong focus on making sure that the entire production is done organically and does not put a strong emphasis on the organic label itself. Instead, they focus on three aspects that they feel will produce a safe and quality product which is the water source, pest control, and the compost.
When you say organic farms, have you thought about the compost? Is it also from an organic farm? Many farms can say that they are organic but use compost with animal products. This bring up a great question – if the vegetable is organic but the animal used to make the manure in the compost is filled with hormones and fed a non-organic diet – is it still organic? Most compost used in growing produce has animal products filled with hormone residue. Pristine farms do not want this type of product to destroy the freshness of their produce; therefore, they use non-animal compost made from peanut shells, wood powder, and tea seed bran. This ensures that no animal bi-products can infiltrate the organic process.
Another thing to consider when you’re buying produce from a farm is the pest control. You should always ask the question of how bugs and insects are being regulated around the farm. The easiest way for other farms is to spray it with pesticides to target specific bugs but this brings toxic chemicals into the end product and that is not something that Pristine Farms wants to do. Instead, they use a bug prevention method that encompasses scouting, prevention, and control. Scouting is when they go throughout the farm and make sure that their crops are not being ruined by unwanted bugs. Once proper scouting is done, then prevention methods are put into place to make sure that bugs cannot get into the crop areas. That control means that the bugs have already gotten onto your soil or crop and need to be handled and removed in a safe way. To Pristine farms, the worst situation is if bugs are found on the actual crops, therefore strong prevention methods are put in place to keep this from happening.
One prevention method that is used is large nets that cover most of the crops and keep unwanted insects from entering and gaining contact with the crops. These are different from the plastic covers that Green Houses use and are covered in small holes allowing more sunlight, morning dew, and other natural elements to enter in and help with the health of the soil.
Nets used to protect crops from unwanted insects
Another method of prevention is hormone traps. These traps have a pheromone that pulls only the male flying insects preventing the possibility of a specified insect multiplying and being more difficult to remove. At night, zappers are put around many open crops to kill any bugs that have gotten into the area. If a bug so happens to get inside the net area, sticky boards are placed around all crops to catch them and prevent them from getting to the actual crop. Also, there are zappers that light up at night to attract and kill any flying insects that may be in proximity of the crops. All methods used are methods that don’t use chemical but physical or biological methods to control the insects.
Different Methods of Pest Control
Lastly, water is a very important part of any farm and the quality of the water will be directly related to the end product. If you irrigate veggies with the underground water of china, it’s not going to get better since the water is polluted. Since Pristine Farms’ location is in the mountains above the cities water reservoir, the water that is irrigated throughout the farm is coming from upstream and is of a higher quality than what you could get inside the city.
Pristine Farms Staff Washing Vegetables
With all of these processes to consider, it is safe to say that Pristine Farms puts a lot of thought and emphasis in being a high-quality organic farm. Products purchased from them will have a distinct taste and quality far superior from the produce that you buy in most local markets. I personally loved that I saw and experienced here and will be using this farm as my #1 choice for produce.