Daily Archives: May 11, 2010

Organic Shmorganic…

I was doing a little grocery shopping the other day at Whole Foods, when D came up to me and asked…”Why can’t we just go to Food Emporium instead of Whole Paycheck?”  I of course, wrinkled my nose (I don’t particularly enjoy food emporium…the stale smell and amount of processed food in that joint usually gives me the heeby jeebies) and replied “because it’s not mostly organic!  That’s why!”  Not to be a food snob or anything, because I will be the first one to tell you that I do do some shopping at places like Food Emporium or Gristedes, but I try to make a point of buying mostly organic food. D of course asks me later that day “So what is organic anyways?  I mean I know what it is, but I don’t really…”  We all KIND of know what organic means.  The USDA National Organic Program defines organic as such:

“Organic food is produced by farmers who emphasize the use of renewable resources and the conservation of soil and water to enhance environmental quality for future generations. Organic meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products come from animals that are given no antibiotics or growth hormones. Organic food is produced without using most conventional pesticides; fertilizers made with synthetic ingredients or sewage sludge; bioengineering; or ionizing radiation. Before a product can be labeled “organic,” a Government-approved certifier inspects the farm where the food is grown to make sure the farmer is following all the rules necessary to meet USDA organic standards. Companies that handle or process organic food before it gets to your local supermarket or restaurant must be certified, too.”

In basic terms, organic food is food that hasn’t been messed with.  Studies have shown conflicting evidence as to whether organic food is necessarily better for you.  And of course, taste is also hard to quantify because everyone has different tastes as to what they think is good.  In my opinion, I think organic food tastes fresher, cleaner, and better.  I’m willing to shell out the extra bucks on organic food because I like the idea that I’m not putting unnecessary pesticides in my body.  But it is a personal choice whether or not you decide to buy organic.  There are also foods that are more likely to contain pestcides than others, so organic is a better bet.  These foods are:

  • peaches
  • apples
  • nectarines
  • strawberries
  • cherries
  • sweet bell peppers
  • celery
  • lettuce
  • potatoes
  • carrots

Foods that are ok to buy conventional are:

  • Pineapples
  • Avocadoes
  • Mangoes
  • Bananas
  • Asparagus
  • Onions
  • Broccoli
  • Kiwifruit
  • Papayas
  • Eggplant

As a rule of thumb, organic is a better bet for any fruits/veggies where you either eat the skin, or it is a thin-layer of skin.  Tougher skin allows less pesticides to get through.

Yummy organic carrots:

Another great option if buying organic is too expensive for you is to BUY LOCAL.  New York is blessed with some really fantastic farmers markets such as the Union Square Farmers Market.  A lot of these markets sell produce that is grown in the style of organic farming, but may not be USDA-certified.  This is a great option for people who want to save a buck but still buy food that is grown in a clean, sustainable way.