Emily Wyckoff

Do you buy organic?

Do you buy organic? I do. Some items – dairy and some produce. Most of the time. I would love to buy all organic foods if I could, but the prices seem to be so much higher that I have had to make some rules for myself. I always but organic milk – my kids drink it every day (well, two out of three), and a news story stuck with me a few years ago talking about how girls were physically maturing at an earlier age because of the hormones used in some dairy products. So that’s a pretty standard rule for me – no growth hormones in dairy. Then when I’m in the produce aisle I will buy produce that is organic if I can , but if I look at the price and the organic apples are twice as much as the regular apples, I have to stop and think about it. And when it comes to cookies, crackers, etc., I skip abiding to the organic label and check the label for ingredients instead – if it’s longer than my arm with words I can’t pronounce, I skip it. Most of the time I try to make homemade cookies and treats as much as possible that have all of 6 or so ingredients – all recognizable.

I don’t know about you but I’m also confused by the labels – organic, grass fed, all natural, no hormones, etc. Is it better to buy something organic that comes from Chile or a local product, not specifically labelled organic, but that did not use a lot of natural resources to get to my kitchen - plus it supports my local farmers?

A book was recommended to me recently on just this topic – “To Buy or not to Buy Organic: What you need to know to choose the healthiest, safest, most earth-friendly food” by Cindy Burke.  A-ha. Just the book I’m looking for. Sadly, I have not had a chance to read the book cover to cover but it does have charts – which I love.  I have gleaned two important concepts from this book: #1. The thinner the skin of the produce you are buying, it is more important to buy organic. The pesticides penetrate the produce more easily. Thicker skin, (like bananas and avocados) do not absorb much of the pesticides and non-organic can be ok. #2 concept is bugs are like kids – they are more attracted to the sweeter fruits and vegetables and not as attracted to the bitter-smelling ones like broccoli, onions, etc., meaning less pesticides need to be used.

The book also has a great list called “The Dirty Dozen” which the author terms the “Twelve Foods to Eat Only if They are Organic” (ranked by how likely they are to contain pesticide residue after harvest):

1. Strawberries

2. Red and green bell peppers

3. Spinach

4. Cherries

5. Peaches

6. Nectarines

7. Celery

8. Apples

9. Pears

10. Grapes

11. Raspberries

12. Potatoes

Yikes. I don’t know about you, but strawberries, apples, grapes and potatoes are all on my weekly shopping list. I have, since learning this info, started buying organic for these items.

Conversely, she has a “Clean Fifteen” list of the produce least likely to contain pesticide residue, even if they are not organically grown:

1. Asparagus

2. Avocados

3. Bananas

4.  Blueberries

5. Broccoli

6. Cabbage

7. Garlic

8. Kiwi

9. Mango

10. Onions

11. Papaya

12. Pineapple

13. Shelling peas

14. Sweet corn

15. Watermelon (domestically grown)

So, I’d love to hear from you guys – do you buy organic? Why or why not?

4 Responses to “Do you buy organic?”

  1. I too have a problem with the prices of organic. So I started growing my own organic foods. I have not lived in my home for 3 years yet and I don’t know what has been put in the soil. So, I buy clean top soil that has been heated, cut holes in the bags of soil and plant directly in the bags. This way I have control over the soil, no weeding to speak of, and the plants grow very well. It is like growing plants in pots without the cost. The plants grow along the ground or up a fence in the normal manner. I get wonderful tasty foods this way and not a drop of any bug spray on them.

  2. aksidan says:

    on May 9.2009 we are having a western theme Birthday party i was wondering if you would have any party dish ideas for the dinner. the birthday is for my father who will be 65 and loves the cow boy days!!!! any ideas would be appreciated. our menu consist of the cow poke ( wiener’s and beans), southern fried chicken. and roast beef , potato salad, .. thank you for all of your inspirations in my cooking.. if any one has good recipe ideas for the western day’s or cow boy times please let me know Thanks

  3. nanci says:

    When it comes to organic…i try to buy as much locally as possible. That helps to defray the high prices that I find in big supermarket chains. Plus I am also not so sure I want big business involved with my organics.

    Look for the 8

    On conventionally-grown, non-organic fruit, the sticker has only 4 numbers. Organically grown fruit has a five-numeral code, which begins with the number 9. Since organic fruits and vegetables now have to be in separate areas in grocery stores, this confirms that your apple hasn’t ended up in the wrong pile. However, the store does not have to reveal which fruits and vegetables are genetically-modified—but you can find out by looking at their stickers, which will begin with the number 8.

    As afar as organic foods from outside the US, you have to be very careful, because their standards are quite different from ours. I look for the “certified organic” label, as well.

    I eat as much as possible from a 100 mile radius. Using that 100 mile diet theory has helped to support local farmers, businesses; as well as to help me to feel healthier and it also helps you to build antibodies to allergens that are in your local area.

  4. sonia says:

    While everything that Organic practices stand for mean the world to me, I have to admit, that I do not buy everything organic, much to my chagrin.

    Someday when I am making enough money I absolutely will, but I continue however to make the effort to buy things as green, nutrtious and wholesome as is possible.

    I too try to make the choice between buying organic or buying as local as possible, as I definitely believe that it is important to support the farmers in my area.

    I also have a natural butcher close buy who explained to me that they only puchase meats that are local and organically grow, they call them naturally however because they are not certified organic which is quite a lengthy and expensive process to go through to recieve that labelling.

    I pick and choose my battles as some things that are not organic are also made more simply, rather than with an endless list of ingredients. It’s my goal to stick with the bare basics, and I too like to make what I can of my own, not only to save on the cost but also the peace of mind.

    With the things ending up in our food today, including crushed up beetles used for color with about five different names in the ingredient list, colours and additives that are linked to all kinds of diseases and disorders, I just don’t feel that anyone can justify being ignorant to these things any longer.

    I have three beautiful little girls, ages 5, 20 months, and 2 months old, and I believe that I owe to them and myself to educate myself to the best of my ability and use that knowledge as my weapon to keep my family safe.

    I am also highly excited for the bar code info given by Nanci, thats very good to know, and I will definitely be makin a point of checking that the next time I go to the store.

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