To Buy or Not to Buy: Organic

I didn’t exactly go into this thinking that I was going to switch over to organic foods completely. When I first noticed the ingredients in my store-bought bread, I was mainly thinking about cutting out artificial additives and preservatives. But after a while, it didn’t seem to make much sense to cut out artificial ingredients in my food without also wanting to cut out unneeded hormones and antibiotics administered to the animals I eat and pesticides on my fruit and vegetables.

But my biggest concern was cost. While I have always liked buying organic, most of the time I opted for price instead. Not to mention that the fruits and vegetables in the organic section many times look wimpy compared to their pesticide-laden counterparts. In my research of real food, I came across this website: http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/summary/, the EWG’s 2012 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce. After testing fruits and vegetables, they tell you which ones contain the most pesticides and which ones are the “cleanest.” See the chart below from their website.

As you can see, apples, celery and sweet bell peppers rank the worst while onions, corn and pineapples contain the fewest pesticides. You can view the methodology on their website. But I think this gives me a really great starting point. I have decided to buy the “dirty dozen” list organic, and stick to non-organic produce for the clean list. This past weekend I bought organic strawberries and the taste is far superior. Sure they are smaller, but much sweeter!

Onto dairy. I have always bought organic milk wanting to avoid rBHT, but I never bought other organic dairy products.  But I’m going to start. On of my favorite real food blogs, 100daysofrealfood.com, Lisa writes “you can’t wash off chemicals in your dairy.” I have decided I would like my cheese and eggs to come from cows and chickens that haven’t been injected with hormones or antibiotics. I have also been surprised at how much better the organic dairy tastes. We had chicken tacos last night (on homemade whole wheat tortillas!) and the organic sour cream was so rich and creamy compared to the Daisy brand that I normally buy. And the cheese had so much more flavor than the bland Kraft shredded variety. Less of it went further.

Finally, meat. Here I’ve done my research, and it’s enough to convince me to only eat organically or naturally raised meat. Here are just a few facts about the benefits of eating organic meat:

*According to a Princeton University study, organic, grass-fed beef tends to have less total fat and higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids than conventional beef.

*Organic farming bans the use of purported cancer-promoting growth hormones and antibiotics in animals, leading to fewer health risks and minimizing the evolution of antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria.

*Organic, grass-fed meat poses a low risk of harboring E. coli and may also have lower levels of campylobacter bacteria when compared to cows raised in non-organic feedlots.

*Because organically raised cows don’t consume animal byproducts, they also have a low risk of contracting bovine spongiform encephalopathy–or mad cow disease–which can cause the potentially lethal Creutzfelt-Jakob disease in humans.

But let’s be honest, organic meat is difficult to find in restaurants. So I will reduce my meat consumption by eating meat only when I bought it and know where it came from. It would probably be good for me to eat less meat anyway, so instead of making more vegetarian meals at home (which Jared would most certainly not approve of) I will simply eat vegetarian when I’m out unless I know the meat that a restaurant uses is organic 🙂

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One thought on “To Buy or Not to Buy: Organic

  1. Karen says:

    Out here in California, it is becoming more common for restaurants to identify their beef as grass-fed and/or organic, and to tell you what farm or ranch it is from. The same is true of chicken and other meats, as well as eggs. As consumers start asking for that information, stores and restaurants will provide it.

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