Interview with Kathryn De Castro of San Marco’s Organic Produce ClubMarch 8, 2007
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says it will likely allow the sale of milk and meat from cloned animals beginning later this year. What’s more, it won’t specify this on the label. While some support this, others oppose it (note: that last link takes you to The Center for Food Safety website, where you can watch a video and/or write a message to the FDA). Interestingly, several places like Whole Foods Markets have gone on the record saying they won’t carry the products of cloned animals. Speaking of Whole Foods, I was pissed they chose to open their Jacksonville store a half-mile from the Native Sun in Mandarin. When I read about it on Urban Jacksonville all I thought about was the 82 pages of handwritten signatures of people begging Whole Foods to open in San Marco. Of course, we do have Grassroots in Five Points, as well as the wonderful San Marco Health Foods’ Organic Produce Club (also previously addressed by Urban Jacksonville).
Here is our friend Seana Parker-Dalton’s interview of Kathryn De Castro, the owner of San Marco Health Foods Organic Produce Club:
Katy De Castro is the founder of San Marco Health Foods, an organic produce club. She provides a selection of organic produce in varying sizes for customers to pick up either weekly or every two weeks. Finally! A convenient local source for organic produce! I recently joined this club and I’ve discovered two things: 1. Organic produce really does taste better, and 2. Chard is awesome.
I stopped by the pick-up location in San Marco to ask Katy some questions about this program, and the organic movement in general.
How did you get involved with organic food?
This is actually a hard question to answer. I think that it was just a natural progression of gaining information. It probably started when I first became a vegetarian in college and also when I started to learn how to cook. I became more interested in recipes, vegan and vegetarian, met other people who were vegetarians, and did research on nutrition and foods. You’d be surprised how much you can learn just from talking to people. I also read a lot of books on the subject and it just spiraled from there.
How did you go about starting this program?
The intricacies of how it started are probably pretty boring. The gist of it is that I always had an idea of starting a health food store one day. I learned about co-ops and produce clubs online while I was doing research on organic foods and thought it would be a great way to start something I liked and believed in and I felt there was a need for it. My major motivating factor was my six-month-old baby, Isaac. After I had him, I realized there was no way I could just go back to a regular full time gig, and I wanted to stay with him, so that really lit the fire for the entire thing.
There has been some publicity recently about the flower industry, and how it is just as environmentally damaging and exploitative of workers as growing food. Have you had any thoughts about including organic flowers in your offerings?
Yes, I would love to get a hold of some organic flowers. I think most people would enjoy having that as a service, and I would love to expand to other organic products. I am carrying some organic and vegan soaps and some organic/fair-traded coffees and we are trying to bring in some fresh organic breads as well, so if I could get my hands on some flowers I would love to offer them.
Alot of people see organic food as elitist, because it’s cost prohibitive for poor people in America at least, to buy healthy foods. Do you think this is true/what can be done to change this?
I don’t think this is true. While what you may buy at the outset seems cheaper, like regular produce, non-recycled items etc…they are actually MORE costly on the whole due to the health costs not for only yourself and your family (health issues due to poor diet, pesticide build up etc.) but also for our society and the planet (bleaching of paper for paper towels, destruction of land by leached chemicals, human costs from exposure to chemicals while harvesting crops, etc.) I would think that if someone were poor that they would at least value what they eat as the most important thing for their health and well being, and if they buy dry beans, seasonal produce and try to shop wisely and cook for themselves, they will find it may actually be cheaper. I think if people didn’t spend so much money on fast food and eating out and cooked for themselves using whole foods, they would realize it is not elitist at all, it just makes common sense. We vote with our money in this society, and the easiest way to make a change is to put your money where your values are, and I am sure most people don’t want to throw their hard earned money at large corporations that aren’t making our world any better. I think spreading the knowledge and getting people back into the kitchen is the way to change the mentality of elitism. It takes time at first, but once the word spreads, it’ll catch on.
Are you familiar with/involved with any of the movements to reform school lunch programs?
I am familiar with it and I think it is a good idea. When I was in school, during the Reagan era, they considered a packet of ketchup to be a source of vegetables and I think that mentality is pathetic. Children need healthy food in order to grow and learn and unfortunately, the very place they should be learning this is offering nothing but foods devoid of most nutrients they need. I do think some schools are opting out of sodas and are bringing in bottled waters and juices instead, I could go on for hours about soda companies and kids so I’ll end it there:-)
What do you think it will take to make sure the current organic movement really takes hold in America, and isn’t just a short-term trend?
Oh, I think its already taking hold and I see signs of it every day. People on the whole are smart, and once the knowledge of the benefits of organics is out there, it will take no time at all. None of this is new stuff, but we have a few generations that were raised on foods produced in factories instead of stuff grown out of the ground, so a lot of people are having to re-learn the basics of good health and nutrition. The plus side is that it is easy when you just think “What did my ancestors eat?” and I can bet you it probably wasn’t chips, soda and chocolate.
Thanks for the interview!
Organic Produce Club additional information
Produce Pick-up: Weekly or Bi-weekly.
Produce Content: Fruits, Vegetables, or Fruits AND Vegetables
Package Size: Small (10 lbs/$25), Medium (20 lbs/$45), or Large (35-40 lbs/$65)
And you can have the expected contents of your weekly package emailed to you as well as have recipe suggestions included in your package.
Email Kathryn at SanMarcoHealthFoods@yahoo.com
or call 904-422-8085 for more information.
Post, links and picture by Joe Flowers. Interview by Seana Parker-Dalton.