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Keeping Up With Maury
Sustainability and Organic Farming
by Maury Feren

It seems as if the word organic has become so popular and sensational that it can save the world.

Organic farming does make a lot of sense and I won't argue that point. However, I would like to mention that I've followed sustainable farming all my life. That approach includes a system of rotating crops that in my opinion works better for everyone concerned. I'll be writing more on this subject as it moves along.

I'm going to recommend a visit to Lee Jones Culinary Vegetable Institute in Huron, Ohio. They have practiced sustainable farming for a hundred years. Lee Jones is a terrific grower. He has made so many innovations in farming by transforming vegetable growing into a first rate profitable enterprise. I can't begin to tell you how exciting it is to visit that farm.

The most important thing I learned when I first visited there was that vegetables change at each stage of growth. In other words, taste them at stage one when they show one inch of growth or stages two or three as they mature and they will taste entirely different.

Lee Jones is a symbol of far reaching thought. His produce is packaged and shipped to some of the finest restaurants and the most famous chefs in the US. He has showcased great dinners by those chefs for the last 20 years at various locations. I happened to interview Lee many times on my Radio Program WERE AM.

When I first met him, he was a regular practitioner of the old time methods of farming. He was always a productive farmer, but he was following the patterns of generations before him. However, he ultimately improved on those methods and has become one of the leading experts of all kinds of tender baby vegetables, herbs, and truck garden specialties. For example, it is so interesting how he reverses agricultural growing patterns.

Recently, he furnished most of the vegetables for the Five Star Sensation Culinary and Wine Benefit, chaired by Wolfgang Puck and Barbara Lazaroff. Wolfgang complimented Cleveland saying that it is a great foodie city. Some of the most important chefs attending said that Lee Jones' vegetables bring out the tenderness and taste that we rarely get any place else. More than 2,000 people attended this fundraiser for University Hospital Seidman Cancer Center.

Back to sustainability and organic farming, let's go into an even more delicate subject. There is great controversy over the growing practices of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). It is not important whether I agree with this concept or not. I think it has tremendous potential for everyone. Yet, there is disagreement.

For instance, the European Union refuses to allow genetically modified wheat, rye, and corn or any other of our major export crops. I will be discussing that in a more deliberate way later on in my blog.

As an interesting contrast, Monsanto, one of the major multinational seed companies, spends millions of dollars on genetic research and has been chosen as a winner of the Crop Genetic Prize by the World Food Foundation. The prize was shared by Marc Van Montagu, founder and chairman of the Institute of Plant Biotechnology Outreach at Ghent University in Belgium, Mary-Dell Chilton, founder and researcher at Syngenta Biotechnology, and Robert Fraley, chief technology officer at Monsanto. [1]

They won by devising a way to insert foreign genes into plants which led to the development of higher yield crops that resist drought, extreme heat, insects, and disease.

Whichever side is right, it is quite interesting to see the new movement to eat locally grown fruits and vegetables. There are dozens of local communities that are growing truck garden crops to serve their own community. More about that at some other time.

[1] David Pitt. June 19, 2013. “World Food Prize Goes to 3 Biotech Scientists,” Associated Press.

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