Is Organic Produce Worth the Extra Money?
Summer is less than two weeks away! As the grass gets greener and flowers start to bloom, the world seems to get much more colorful. For me, that means my meals seem to get more lively too. Farmers markets are now in full swing, with a bounty of fresh produce. I thought that a farmer's market meant organic produce. I'm not sure why I thought this, but it is not always true.
Sometimes a farmers' market is just a way for farmers to sell off excess produce. If you are seeking organic items, ask about growing techniques and if you find some are not organic find out what they use on their crops and when they last sprayed.
What does it mean to be organic?
PickYourOwn.org explains it this way:
“The USDA has put in place a set of national standards that food labeled "organic" must meet, whether it is grown in the United States or imported from other countries. USDA's
National Organic Program regulates the standards for any farm, wild crop harvesting, or handling operation that wants to sell an agricultural product as organically produced. After October 21, 2002, when you buy food labeled "organic," you can be sure that it was produced using the highest organic production and handling standards in the world.”
I like the PickYourOwn website. It has a great deal of information. You can look up farms in your area that have places where "you pick." It also provides crop calendars, and for those of you brave enough to attempt it, there are instructions for canning, freezing and making jam.
I love the idea or organic food, but I must admit, I am not always pleased with the appearance. I have purchased organic apples at out local grocery store and if you hold it next to a conventionally grown apple, you will notice the differences immediately. The organic apple will not have the sheen of the conventional one, nor will it be free of little bug holes. Also, the color may seem a bit dim.
So, I wonder, are the conventional ones made to look more appealing because they really aren't good for us? Why shine them up? If they weren't shiny, would they lose their appeal? And what kind of wax/oil is used to get that shine?
And then there is the cost. If a farm is not using chemicals, fertilizers or pesticides, I'd figure the cost of growing a crop would be lower, yet items grown organically can be as much as fifty percent more than their conventional counterparts. Why so much more?
Some say organic farmers have to go through quite a lot of hoops to be certified as organic or that they have to spend more for natural compost and soil preparation. Also, there is the idea that smaller crops have to be grown, and due to poor soil, crops must be rotated every year.
Whatever the reason, when it comes to finances, no matter how health conscious we are, everyone has a budget.
Perhaps in response to our dilemma, the TODAY Show ran a segment about The Dirty Dozen - twelve fruits / vegetables that should always be purchased organic.
The Dirty Dozen
(Any fruit with a thin skin or a skin that can be eaten)
(Any vegetable with a thin skin or a skin that can be eaten)
- Bell Peppers
The Dirty Dozen Dilemma
The theory behind this dirty dozen list, is that any fruit or vegetable that has a thin skin or a skin that is eaten (strawberries, apples, potatoes) should always be organic.
Any item with a thick skin that is removed before eating (think banana or pineapple) could be non-organic. The thought being that any pesticide residue would be removed with the skin. I don’t know if I agree with this. Aren't the chemicals and/or fertilizer in the ground leeching into the seed that becomes the plant?
And what about items not on the list, like broccoli, cauliflower, mangos and blueberries? Wouldn't they also need to be organic?
I've realized that no matter how well my intentions may be, the fact remains that the produce I grew up on is not the same as the produce available today. Soil conditions have degraded over the years and in an effort to produce more food for market, farmers have turned to pesticides, chemical fertilizers and preservatives. I can only do so much.
So, this year, in addition to attending the Farmers’ markets, I'm attempting my own version of organic produce by having a garden. I’ve never had a garden before. This is due mainly to my propensity for over-watering house plants. (One has suggested drip irrigation, so hopefully, i’ll grow something.) We aren’t using any fertilizer or pesticides – just water (with a few drops of
Life Transfusion Liquid Minerals added every now and then), sunlight and seeds. We'll see what happens.
As for whether organic produce worth it or not, only you can decide for yourself. Each family has to decide what they can afford and how they can best incorporate organic produce into their lifestyle and budget.