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Bowl of USDA organic curry food

What does USDA Organic Mean?

by Bridget Washburn

Climate savvy shoppers seeking seasonal, local, and organically grown foods enjoy a variety of choices here in Southwest Florida. Purchasing local and fresh goods strengthens our community’s economy and reduces climate impacts associated with long-distance shipping. Sourcing ingredients from local farms and preparing them at home also turns out to be healthier for the environment, with the Natural Resources Defense Council finding extensive processing of food tends to require more energy and release more global warming pollution.

USDA Organic Certified Farms in Collier, Lee, Charlotte, and Glades counties produce goods from herbs to veggies, from blueberries to roasted coffee. Organic farming methods avoid using synthetic fertilizers – a large source of Nitrous Oxide, a greenhouse gas. Instead, organic farming relies on ecosystem management rather than external agricultural inputs and thus takes a lighter toll on the climate than its conventional counterpart.

USDA organic certification standards emerged in the 1970s in response to public concern over the environment and the harmful pesticides often applied in conventional farming. However, a decentralized certification program allowed states and independent certifying agencies to determine standards individually, resulting in an inconsistent national program. Congress addressed these issues bypassing the Organic Foods Production Act in 1990, which established a national standard for organic food and fiber production, a National Organic Standards Board, and organic regulations defined by USDA — a process eventually finalized in 2002.

Support local and organic production by seeking out one of Southwest Florida’s USDA Certified Organic farms which often sell through a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program,  where customers “subscribe” to receive a box of seasonal produce each week throughout the farming season. Or, enjoy browsing through bustling crowds this holiday season to seek out sustainable produce at one of the many CollierCharlotte, or Lee County farmers markets. Our January 5th Y&HOW speaker, Jennifer Ryals from the UF/Extension Office will discuss the climate and economic benefits of supporting local agricultural, so be sure not to miss her presentation.

This Sunset Curry is the perfect recipe to put local seasonal organic produce to good use.

By: Jennifer Barrell, MS, LDN, CNS

        Acorn Squash- 1/ butternut squash-2:           cubed and roasted until soft

·      Tomato – 2 – medium yellow & red

·      White Onion -1/4 cup chopped

·      Curry powder- 1 ½ tsp

·      Coriander powder – 1 tsp

·      Mustard dry – 1 tsp

·      Cumin – ½ tsp


·      Red chili powder – ½ tsp

·      Paprika- ½ tsp

·      Turmeric powder – ¼ tsp

·      Ginger- 3 tbsp minced

·      Garlic- 1 tbsp minced

·      Chicken broth- about 3 cups

·      Coconut milk – ½ can

·      Oil (coconut or olive) 3-5 tsp



  1. Heat 2 tsp of oil in a large pan. Add the onion. Cook on medium heat for 3-4 minutes.
  2. Add the rest of the oil, spices, garlic and ginger. Cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring often.
  3. Add roasted squash blend and stir for 1-2 minutes.
  4. Add broth, coconut milk and tomatoes. Reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer for ten minutes stirring occasionally.
  5. Serve over basmati or cauliflower rice. Garnish with cilantro, lime, red chili pepper flakes and sea salt.





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