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Rippled kale and bright carrots, boxes of beets and Cipollini onions caught the attention of Robert Caskey and Randa Cherry at a Cedar Rapids Downtown Farmers Market, but the real selling point was how the vegetables were grown: organically.
"I want to eat good food that's good for me," said Cherry, 52, a licensed massage therapist. "GMOs (genetically modified organisms) are everywhere. You have to eat organic to stay away from that."
Caskey, 55, sales director at OmniLingua in Cedar Rapids, added that the two prefer to buy local.
"I like to know where my food is coming from," he said.
The Cedar Rapids couple is among a groundswell of Americans drawn to food grown without synthetic fertilizers and other chemicals or methods that some believe fuel the health scourges plaguing this country.
And they're literally putting their money where their mouth is.
According to the Organic Consumers Association, organics have surged in popularity to become a $30 billion dollar industry in the United States, growing 10 to 20 percent annually.
The group and other advocates contend that conventionally produced foods contain pesticides, antibiotics, growth hormones, genetically modified organisms, chemical additives and more that contribute to skyrocketing rates of obesity, cancer, heart disease, allergies and other illnesses, along with environmental issues that accompany conventional farming.