Where Can You Find Specialty Crops?
Specialty crops can be found in many places. Of course you can buy them at grocery stores. But you can also buy them at food co-ops, farmers markets, and plant and garden centers.
What You Will Find on the Label
Specialty crops may have a number of different kinds of information on their labels. Here are some you might see:
Minnesota Grown: This logo tells you that the product you are buying was grown in Minnesota, not someplace thousands of miles away.
Organic: The word "organic" is regulated by the USDA. To earn the organic label, crops must be grown in ways that protect soil and water quality. Organic farmers use crop rotation, mulching, tillage, and biological controls to control weeds and pests. Most synthetic (human-made) herbicides and pesticides are forbidden. Organic farmers are not allowed to use genetically modified or fungicide-treated seeds.
How Do Farmers Control Weeds and Pests?
"We use insects like ladybugs to eat pests like aphids. We also use a floating row cover (a big white sheet of thin material) to cover young plants and protect them from bugs," said Laura Frerichs, co-owner of Loon Organics.
Pepin Heights Orchard is a non-organic farm that uses modern agricultural tools. This means that they sometimes help the apple trees grow better by controlling pests with chemicals. Summer rainfall can bring pests and diseases to the orchard, so they use Integrated Pest Management (IPM). IPM uses just the minimal amount of chemicals. They are only used when necessary.
Farmers make many decisions about what to plant and how to grow their crops. We make decisions about what food we are going to buy and eat. How does your family decide where to buy food and what foods to buy?