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South Valley Journal

Organic foods aren’t just for health fanatics anymore

Mar 12, 2020 11:44AM ● By Darrell Kirby

Shad Stagl of Stagl Organics is preparing to plant early-season crops at his vegetable farm in Salt Lake City. (Darrell Kirby/City Journals)

By Darrell Kirby | [email protected]

At one time, the term “organic food” generated images in some people’s minds of nature-loving, Prius-driving health fanatics who thought any chemicals or artificial ingredients in food would mean premature death.

That impression is gradually changing as more of the products are making their way into mainstream grocery stores and into households that typically haven’t been overly health conscious. 

Shad Stagl of Stagl Organics in Salt Lake City is doing his part to grow and sell such crops and educate people about them. 

Stagl owns and operates the organic farm behind his home on the city’s west side. He does the bulk of his business using a model called “community supported agriculture.” That’s where people pay up front to purchase a season’s share of his organically grown produce. They pick up a box of vegetables every week or two for up to 23 weeks as it is harvested during the growing season. Stagl finished 2019 with 52 such customers and hopes to have more this year. He also sells his crops at the Liberty Park farmers market. 

“It gives me a chance to introduce people to new food that they might not normally buy,” Stagl said. 

Organic foods are generally defined as being grown and processed without using soil, fertilizers, weed killer, insecticides and pesticides that contain synthetic ingredients or chemicals. In other words, they are all natural. 

Stagl says true organic foods are rooted in the soil. If it is devoid of chemical or synthetic fertilizers or weed killers, then the crops will be free of them, too. “Your food is only as nutritious as your soil,” he said. Organic pesticides are also available to kill damaging bugs without leaving potentially harmful residues on the plants. 

Stagl has a few fruit trees, but the vast majority of his crops are vegetables: tomatoes, eggplant (technically both are fruits), lettuce, kale, radishes, turnips, squash, zucchini, parsley, celery, peppers, potatoes, carrots and more. 

Organic food sales in the United States totaled $47.9 billion in 2018, an increase of 5.9% from the previous year, according to the Organic Trade Association. 

The U.S. Department of Agriculture says organic products are available in about three out of four conventional grocery stores, along with 20,000 health food stores. Organic foods that were once confined to special sections of stores can now be found sprinkled among regular products on shelves.

Stagl agrees that organic foods are slowly making their way into local mainstream grocery stores and buying habits. Their prices are also generally coming down. 

He believes the future for organic food is getting brighter. “Demand is rising. People are switching over.” 

For more information, visit staglorganics.co (yes, it’s co, not com). 

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