Friday, April 18, 2008

Organic rise and fall

"Rising prices for organic groceries are prompting some consumers to question their devotion to food produced without pesticides, chemical fertilizers or antibiotics. In some parts of the country, a loaf of organic bread can cost $4.50, a pound of pasta has hit $3, and organic milk is closing in on $7 a gallon.

“The prices have gotten ridiculous,” said Brenda Czarnik, who was shopping recently at a food cooperative in St. Paul."

This morning, Rania the director of Healthy Basket, the organic shop in my neighborhood told me that their profit margin was declining because the farmers had increased their prices and that they could not raise retail prices too much. Between this and the increasing poverty and the increase in conventional food prices, organic may witness a decline in Lebanon as well.


A B said...

Some are interested in vermicomposting , and would like to know how and where to get the necessary stuff for it, especially the Eisenia foetida worm. Does it exist in Lebanon?
What about other parts of the Arab world? do they have it?

We've seen western websites who provide this, but don't know anything about it's availability in our part of the world. So if anyone can provide feedback on this, it would be appreciated.

Rami Zurayk said...

I do not think you can find it in Lebanon. i tried vermicomposting in the Bekaa once, but it wasn't very successful: our environment is just too dry. I think it should work on the residues from banana cropping on the coast. Try using the regular local earthworm, Lumbricus.

Steve Bloom said...

Vermicomposting certainly works well in drier areas of southern California (some of which are true desert and so even drier than Lebanon), so perhaps there's some other factor involved. There are specialist websites where questions could be asked about that as well as what is possible with regular earthworms. The little red worms are great, but I imagine one could die of old age before getting importation approved. Anyway, in my experience vermicomposters are very dedicated to spreading the annelid gospel, so don't be shy about emailing them for advice if the answers aren't readily apparent.

Also, in various parts of the world there are worm species different from E. foetida but which occupy the same general niche. Apparently they tend to have the same appearance (small and red). It sounds as if Rami may have checked already, but if not it's worth a look for some (in favored habitat such as the bottom of manure piles).