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Janine from CO
It is much more than packaging. This was USDA's definition of "Organic" effective since October 21, 2002. All farms and products claiming to be organic needed to be guaranteed by a USDA-approved independent agency to meet the following guidelines:
There are variations in labeling claims including "100% organic" (all organic ingredients), "organic" (at least 95% organic ingredients), and "made with organic ingredients" (70% organic ingredients).
Unfortunately, as I write this, congress passed a congressional rider that weakens these standards by allowing certain synthetic food additives to be added to organic products without notifying the consumer.
Organic food costs more for several reasons:
Since your friend already buys organic, consider pitching in to buy a share in a community-supported agriculture (CSA) program. You pay a fee at the beginning of the season and in return, you receive weekly boxes of fresh fruits, vegetables and flowers (whatever is in season). Another option is to join a local food co-op, where members get a discount on purchases (volunteer and get more). Also try buying from farmer's markets, buying in bulk, stocking up on whatever is in season and then canning or freezing it, or try growing your own. In the off-season, when produce is more expensive, buy frozen or canned.
Well in answer to the 2nd post 1st, organically grown foods have been found to contain pesticides - but far less than 'conventionally' grown .
The sad fact is our environment has been poisoned - there's no escape from it, but buying & consuming organic products does help reduce your own personal exposure & also supports agricultural practices that are less harmful to our environment/ecology.
As for the 1st question, most organic costs approx. the same as 'conventional' here where I live.But there are more than a few co.s that charge 'what the market will bear' - that is, many people don't question higher $$ for organics coz they perceive it as higher quality (which it usually is).
& what many do not realise is that the super cheap prices for 'conventional' foods are the result of subsidies - so tax $$ pays the costs - a.k.a. 'hidden' costs.Environmental damage, loss of habitat/ecosystems, farmworker healthcare - not to mention cheap imports which put US producers @ a disadvantage - all get paid for out of taxpayer pockets - sooner or later.So you either pay a bit more up front or subsidise (for a lot more) the 'hidden' costs of 'cheap' food .
FWIW, I belong to a small co-op - about a dozen members buy from a local organic distributor & have membership w/ a local CSA(community supported agriculture) organic farm.(You might check to see if there is a CSA in your area - they're almost everywhere.)We order every other week & split the costs - 2 weeks worth of organic produce & organic eggs costs me less than $30 & feeds my household of 3 adults.
I have a garden too & fruit trees - all organic.
I try to buy organic foods whenever I can, for both myself and my 2 year old son. I don't know that it's proven that organic foods have less pesticides, etc. compared to "regular" foods, but I figure, why take the chance? I would rather expose my son to LESS pesticides. For Miranda, I believe that the soil, etc. that organic foods are grown in have to be tested to meet the standards to label it organic, so I don't think there's much chance of contamination. I agree that organic is usually more expensive (the reason I can't buy ALL organic foods), but this is a matter of supply/demand--if more consumers bought organic, the price would go down.
the best way to spend less on organic foods is to simply do it yourself if you can. Start a garden and plant the produce that you use the most. If you have room too get some chickens for eggs. you dont have to do much at first you can just start with veggies and fruit and you are allready eating better and healthier foods.
Yes, unfortunately contamination from non-organic fields can occur by wind, or by seed spread and isn't all that uncommon and is a huge concern for organic farmers. There are several court cases (some involving Monsato (sp?) about this. The best thing one can do is write to their representatives and show their support for local organic foods by purchasing through CSAs or food coops. Potential contamination is not a good excuse to not try to purchase ecologically and environmentally sound produce.
Yes it is "possible" that insecticides and pesticides can be wind blown (known as drift) onto Organic produce HOWEVER, insecticides and pesticides are expensive commodities for the farmers that use them, and they do all they can to minimize their own "loss" due to wind by applying on calm days. In addition, pesticides/insecticides can only drift so far, and while it is possible to touch the edge of an organic field, most of the field would be untouched.
Organic also has to do with natural vs synthetic fertilizers which contaminte the ground and our water supply. My father-in-law converted from "regular" farming to organic farming about 25 years ago. One of the reasons he did so was because as a child in the 1930's (before the use of most synthetic fertilizers, insecticides and pesticides which are largely petroleum based) he saw tons of earthworms in the soil. One day he realized there were NO earthworms to be found. That may seem small, but earthworms do much to "work" the soil as well as contribute nitrogen fixing bacteria. It took 3+ years to be certified organic, and his fields then had hundreds of earthworms per square yard.
Run-off from chemicals has contaminated many private and community water systems. Large areas in farm states now have to treat their water (with more chemicals) or find alternative sources for their water supplies.
One of the suggestions on where to start to get the most "value" for your money is to realize that the more "water" is in your produce, the more it is likely to have higher proportions of chemicals. Grapes, tomatoes, peppers and lettuces are a good starting point. Fruits that you peel absorb less - such as bananans.
I buy ONLY organically raised meat - the body fat of cattle, hogs, and chickens is where chemicals are stored. In addition organically raised meat is generally more humanely raised and treated, and considerably more healthy at the time of slaughter. That is one reason that most cattle are fattened as quickly as possible because the chemicals and un-natural food many are given greatly deteriorates their health and internal organs by a relatively young age.
You can look for miniscule reasons to not buy organic, but in the end - it is my belief - that you will end up paying with your health.
Since this question was originally posted several studies have been done on whether organic produce has greater nutritional value. The studies show that organic produce normally has between 30% to 70% more nutritional value than non organically produced produce. Makes me feel better about paying a little more.
I've been wanting to feed my family more organic fruits and vegetables but I always get sticker shock when I am in the supermarket. I decided to sign up for organic delivery with a local company. This takes the decision out of my hands. I am getting a box of produce every two weeks to ease into it. They have many different options and box sizes to choose from, I chose the small family box for $30.00. You can also get dairy, meats and other products added to your order for an additional charge. And if there is something you don't want, just tell them and they replace it with something else.
My area gets deliveries on Wednesday and I was anxiously waiting for the first box all afternoon, which came just before dinnertime. My kids were fascinated by the "strange" vegetables and thrilled with the fruit selection. I had to get online to figure out what to do with the turnip but most of the veggies are ones I regularly buy anyhow. I like the opportunity to try different veggies and get out of my rut. I'll probably have to buy some produce at the store from time to time but I'm going to try to plan meals around what I get in the box.
Here's what my box contained:
Jess in Portland, OR
Organic foods are often the better choice when purchasing food, especially produce. Here are some helpful FAQ's about organic food.