[NAFEX] Why organic produce is sometimes smaller

Melissa Kacalanos mijwiz at yahoo.com
Wed Jun 17 10:12:12 EDT 2009

About organic produce being smaller: I had a plant physiology text that had a little aside about a commercial use of one of the plant hormones it was discussing. This hormone, when sprayed on grapes, doubled yield! Wow, what a great thing, right? (Sorry, I don't remember the name of the hormone.) But the textbook also said that this wasn't useful for raisin production, as it didn't increase dry weight, just total weight. It was only used for fresh grapes.

Reading between the lines, this hormone just makes grapes bloat up with water. When you buy a pound of conventional grapes, half your money is buying half a pound of water. Putting my education to use, the next time I went shopping, I bought some small, expensive, organic grapes. What a revelation! I realized that these were real grapes, and all the conventionally-grown grapes I'd eaten before were really diluted. I think they were just Red Flame Seedless, not a particularly flavorful variety, and they weren't local, so freshness wasn't the difference. The difference was that they were organic. That small, expensive organic produce can be a better deal after all.

I don't know how this relates to current conventional grape-growing standards, but I haven't noticed conventional grapes getting any more flavorful. I also don't know how it relates to current legal organic standards, since I can see an argument that a plant hormone is "natural" but I certainly hope organic growers can't legally water down their produce like this. Maybe the general policy of watering down produce is why consumers are losing interest in eating it.

when I go to a farm market around here and compare organic to other stands, the offerings are relatively poor and expensive in general, especially when it comes to fruit. 
...the organic produce grown here costs literally twice as much.

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