Buying organic (or not)

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Despite the fact that we absolutely prefer and always try to buy organic…I really want to get one thing straight here. Just because something is organic does not automatically mean it is healthy and that you should eat it! There are still highly processed foods out there that just happen to be made with organic ingredients. Here are some examples:

  • Organic ice cream sandwiches (the one pictured contains organic corn syrup and organic sugar in addition to white flour)
  • Organic flavored yogurt (also full of organic sugar)
  • Organic cookies
  • Organic crackers made with white flour
  • Organic chips and pretzels
  • Organic white bread

Thinking about something being organic vs. highly processed is like comparing apples to oranges. It is important to first ensure an item is not highly processed and then also try to find the organic version if possible. So now that we have covered the pre-made stuff you might buy, here is some more food for thought…

Although buying organic produce from the grocery store does mean it was not treated with synthetic pesticides or fertilizers, it doesn’t mean that it has traveled any less far (and lost any less nutrients during the traveling process) than its conventional counterpart. Don’t forget that whether it is conventional or organic, the produce from the supermarket travels on average 1500 miles from the farm to your plate. According to Michael Pollan, the best alternative is to buy produce from the farmer’s market whenever possible. A lot of smaller farms aren’t able to go through the paperwork, trouble, or cost of becoming certified organic even though they most often follow an all-natural process. The nice thing about the farmer’s market is that you can just ask the farmer yourself how they treat their plants or animals before buying anything!

Just in case you aren’t convinced that you should spend the extra dough on organic (or natural) produce and meats then take a peak at this Fox News article about a recent Columbia University study. They claim that “pesticides can cause a number of health problems including, cancer, birth defects, and nerve damage…[and in children an] elevated risk of having ADHD.” If this isn’t enough reason to make a change then I don’t know what is… http://health.blogs.foxnews.com/2010/06/16/another-reason-to-buy-organic/

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12 comments to Buying organic (or not)

  • amy

    Thank you for posting this. I totally agree. I love your blog.

  • amy

    no prob. do you have a twitter acct

  • [...] was organic (although just because something is organic does not mean it is okay…there are a lot of highly processed organic foods out [...]

  • Thank you for adding the sentence about local farmers.

    “A lot of smaller farms aren’t able to go through the paperwork, trouble, or cost of becoming certified organic even though they most often follow an all-natural process. The nice thing about the farmer’s market is that you can just ask the farmer yourself how they treat their plants or animals before buying anything!”

    We sell at local markets and are not certified organic. For a meat producer to be certified organic you must buy organic bread stock or wait 3 generations before your stock is considered organic. (That’s at least 3 years!!) Then you also have to have your soils organically approved as well as any fertilizers, feeds, and even your grazing pastures. Trust me it’s a long process, and the reason organically certified meat producers HAVE to charge so much more. (This also doesn’t include the permits, and certification process fees.)

    At our farm we practice many organic principals. This does not make us organic, but it does make us local, healthier, fresher, more flavorful, and willing to open our farm to visits and questions.

    Also please consider local eggs…if you’ve never eaten a farm fresh egg I challenge you to buy a dozen and try them. They are a dark yellow. They are fluffy. They are super yummy, and you’ll NEVER want to go back to the nasty store bought. Even the most expensive organically grow store bought egg is at least 4 months old (from a paper our local vet did in college), so see those are OLD. That’s why when you boil them they peel so nice. Older eggs have absorbed more air and thus allowed the air pocket to expand. Fresh eggs–are a PAIN in the neck to boil and peel. I mean a PAIN!!

    Give your local farmer’s market a try. We participate in a 100% growers market. All our farmers are passionate about their veggies and meats, as well as their crafts. Once you try LOCAL you Won’t go Back!!!

    Thanks
    Dayna
    Poverty Creek Farm

  • Michelle

    Thanks for the information – I am new to your blog and look forward to new posts! I have been trying to eat “clean” for the past year or so and it sometimes gets so confusing. I do think that you are right in that by shopping local you are making so many positive and responsible choices. I hope more people start to choose to shop local so our local producers become successful and we as a community thrive both from supporting them and by eating such high quality food! Thanks again!

  • Liz

    I understand trying to eat clean, and I love your recipe ideas but this part gets to me. My dad is a farmer, and he uses chemicals on his crops because otherwise this world would go hungry. If we tried to feed everyone with organic crops we would never yield enough crops. Organic crops don’t yield enough for the demand there is for crops. Also, organic crops are grown with any kind of animal poop they can get as fertilizer. Animals are not clean and can carry many diseases. I know that when my great grandparents were alive they didn’t have a choice for chemicals, and people were dying at the age of 60. Now people are living to be in their 80s and 90s. If chemicals didn’t make are food cleaner and without the dirtiness of organic food we would still be dying in our 60s. Organic means anything and everything in nature can get on the crop, insects and animals aren’t always clean. Ecoli is found in many organic crops. I just think people need to rethink their research on organic crops before they go all out and discriminate against crops grown using chemicals.

    • Christa

      I realize I’m replying several months later, but your statement is false. The world would not go hungry if we stopped using chemical fertilizers. The problem is not growing sufficient food, but rather getting it to where it needs to go and not wasting it! I’ve read that up to 40% of the food produced and sold in the US ends up in the dump/trash. Having gone dumpster diving, I can tell you this is true. I have seen a single store dump half a ton of potatoes because one spud in the bag had a sprout. That’s 1000 lbs from ONE store on ONE day. Imagine nationwide.

      And the living longer? that’s due to advances in medicine, despite our increase in unhealthy eating, certainly not because of it. Organic does not necessarily mean that it is “dirty”. Mass production, organic or not, is the cause of much of the dirtiness and contamination of our food supply.

      May I suggest that you read any of several books by Joel Salatin, a non-certified organic farmer. He can help lay to rest some of your fears and doubts about the ability of the world to feed itself, and to do in a far more healthy manner than mass-produced chemically sprayed mono-cropping.

  • Brenda

    Organic does not imply that it doesn’t get sprayed with chemicals. Organic produce has as many or more chemicals sprayed on it as commercial produce. The difference is these sprays are not synthetic. They still kill wildlife and birds and some are more toxic then their commercial counterparts. The synthetic sprays that are used now breakdown within 14 to 28 days and are no longer toxic to humans. If you want to eat healthy, grow your own, don’t use any chemicals at all, and pick the bugs off before you eat them. There is no way to know what sprays are used when buying from local farmers markets. There is no government agency that monitors spray records for these farmers. They could and, from my own experience, do use DDT and other banned sprays because there is no one to tell them they can’t. If it looks pretty, they used chemicals.

  • Haylee

    I am very new to this, and I am trying to soak up as much information as I can before I plunge into this, but I am very eager and excited to get started. Your articles are sooo helpful and very informative, although I still have a question regarding organic produce: I have heard from numerous website’s like the one below that if you buy regular produce and let it soak in vinegar water for a little while that it will make it comparable to organic because it drastically reduce the pesticides and bacteria found on produce. Is this true?? I would think that this would be a good option for a tight budjet shopper like myself. Let me know your thoughts.

    http://goodgreenhabits.com/wash-your-fruits-veggies-with-vinegar/

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