Organic food trend growing - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Organic food trend growing

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SIGNAL MOUNTAIN, TN (WRCB) -- For 15 years Signal Mountain Farm has been cultivating healthy certified organic produce with no pesticides, and no genetic engineering.

Founder Thomas O'Neal fronted 95% of the start-up costs, so he appreciates the state's growing focus on helping organic farmers. He and his staff look forward to receiving their share of a $170,000 grant.

Manager Matt McDonald isn't sure how much they'll receive, but he has some ideas on how to spend it.

"Automated processes that make work a lot easier that we're looking into," says McDonald. "We could always expand our operation. Add more greenhouses."

While organic foods have a reputation for being pricey, McDonald says Signal Mountain Farm offers the fairest prices possible, giving their customers the biggest bang for their buck.

For him it's about keeping Tennesseans as healthy as possible.

"Much higher nutritional value from each and every one of our organic produce [items]," says McDonald. 

Chef Erik Niel of Easy Bistro in downtown Chattanooga has been buying from Signal Mountain Farm for many years. He says in order to meet his clientele's increasing demands for fresh, high quality local ingredients organic is the way to go.

"As far as growers, those who are certified organic tend to be the ones who grow better produce in general," explains Niel. "I think people are expecting that level of quality from us."

Even if it means shelling out a few more dollars for their plates, Niel's diners are willing to pay for what they get.

"If the final product lives up to what it's supposed to be, the price usually doesn't become much of an issue," says Niel. "The more love and care that goes into it the better the product is for us."

McDonald admits organic farming has its challenges, but it's worth every ounce of effort.

"We feel like it's definitely a course worth pursuing," states McDonald.

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