Why the 180-degree turn on organics?

For the past two or three years I have been reading “Eating Right for Good Health” by corporate dietitian Leah McGrath from Ingles Markets in Mountain Xpress. At first I would hear about all the new organic fruits, veggies and new products that Ingles had to carry and the benefits of gluten-free, etc.

Then, in the last month or so, she did a 180-degree turn and started talking about the harmlessness of (some) chemicals and the good use of pesticides. WHAT? As a dietitian, maybe she should inform people about what’s in season and great ways to use it for the most health benefits.

Let us decide whether to buy organic or not. I would think as a nonspecialty grocery store, Ingles would want a diverse clientele to shop there.

This weird backlash against organic is just going to make some people shop someplace else. My advice:  Be like Switzerland and stay neutral.

 Kelli Perry,


Leah McGrath’s response: Dear Kelli, First of all, thanks so much for being a loyal reader of my column in the Mountain Xpress!  I get a lot of comments and compliments on this column and appreciate all of the Mountain Xpress readers.

I think you may be referring to my interview with farmer William Shelton, in which he talks about the use of pesticides. Ingles buys Shelton Family Farms (Whittier, N.C.)  hydroponic lettuce and Mountain Majesty tomatoes.

I hope you will read this week’s article, which is based on a blog:inglesnutrition@blogspot.com.

I wrote about New Sprout Organic Farms of Black Mountain. Ingles is the largest buyer of their locally raised organic produce like kale, Swiss chard and beets.   New Sprout, like Shelton Family Farms, uses pesticides. In fact both farmers – one conventional and one organic – use copper sulfate, which is approved by the National Organic Program.

My goals are:  to encourage consumption of fruits and vegetables;  inform people of the facts about food labels and terms;  dispel fears and misinformation about food;  and introduce our shoppers to some of the local farmers Ingles buys from.

As a dietitian and consumer, I am proud of the fact that Ingles offers a variety of locally grown produce (both conventional and organic) and that I have had opportunities to meet and work with  many of the hardworking  farmers throughout the Southeast that supply Ingles Markets.

About Letters
We want to hear from you! Send your letters and commentary to letters@mountainx.com

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

3 thoughts on “Why the 180-degree turn on organics?

  1. As a farmer, consumer, and advocate of all things local, I share Kelli Perry’s outrage and counfusion towards Leah McGrath’s stance towards her own suppliers. Don’t we just want to eat a lot of produce, what ever production method?!?!?!
    I have two serious point of fact to make for the wider public, which may shed more light on the topic.

    #1. New Sprout Organics Farms has never used Copper Sulfate ever in 2014. Their meticulous spray logs and organic certification reflect this fact. Copper Sulfate is considered a treatment of last resort in organic agriculture. If you are applying Copper Sulfate, you have a serious blight, and are facing crop failure. It is unpleasant to apply, and has limited effectiveness. It also has one of the highest hazard ratings allowed in organic materials.The epic rains of 2013 pushed many farmers to use such treatments due to serious blights and fungal infections throughout the whole east coast. Copper Oxidate is a different and less toxic compound, maninly used as a fungicide. It is a plant growth inhibitor thus having limited uses in field application.

    #2. Ingle’s Markets is not the largest buyer of produce from New Sprout.

    #3. From an environmental viewpoint, Organic products are inherently cleaner. They use less toxins in their production. They use less fossil fuel in their production. They have NO GMO’s.!! All crops have different input costs. Every year has different weather challenges. All farmers are linked by a common bond, especially farmers who feed people. We need more farmers, not more Monsanto apologists.

    These are just some facts. There is no intention to undermine the other party used to compare conventional to organics. We need all farmers. I am a farmer, and I am a consumer. I shop at Ingles. I care about the facts.

    I suggest Leah McGrath gets her facts straight before she angers a highly informed, conscious, and caring consumer base that we are lucky to have here in WNC.

    Michael Hutchison

    Beacon Village Farms

  2. Alan Rose

    When we made our decision to site New Sprout Organic Farms adjacent to Ingles Markets’ Corporate headquarters and Distribution Center in Black Mountain, we were confident that Ingles would be a dependable purchaser of our certified organic produce. We did not anticipate the level of support that Leah McGrath and the team at Ingles Markets have delivered. As a struggling start-up farm, we have had the opportunity to participate in dozens of “Taste of Local” promotional events at regional Ingles stores, enjoyed the benefits of numerous Ingles print ads that promoted our farm and our brand over the years, were featured on the in-store radio show, and even had several television commercials filmed on our farm promoting our true local produce, grown next door to Ingles.

    There are many strong feelings in this community about different methods of growing produce. On behalf of New Sprout Organic Farms, I appreciate Ingles past and continued support of our approach to growing fresh organic produce.

    Alan Rose, Owner
    New Sprout Organic Farms
    Black Mountain

  3. Looks like Leah McGrath had too much freedom and is now being told what to say. I smell a monsanto connection…

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.