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Thread: THE ORGANIC HYPE (OR NOT)

  1. #11
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    We buy certified organic whenever possible, if that produce was grown in the USA and looks fresh and doesn't cost an arm and a leg. Right now I can't find much certified organic lettuce or tomatoes grown in the USA, so I default to local, as in within a 5 mile radius. Organic or not, I do not want to eat produce that creates slavery in other countries, such as Mexico. We make a few exceptions, or rather, DH and my boys make exceptions; frozen mango for smoothies and commercial salsa made in Mexico come to mind. But for me personally, I will sacrifice. I love avocado on a burrito, but the local taco place is certainly getting their avocados from Mexico, so I go without. It's rather crazy that they buy Mexican avocados anyway when right now the local growers have beautiful Zutano avocados for sale. Our salads don't currently have cucumber in them because I can only find cucumbers grown in Mexico. I don't have to choose between starving and buying produce from Mexico so we adjust our menus to use the ingredients that we can get domestically and locally.

    For some fruit, I would rather buy local (ie. citrus over certified organic citrus). The same grower that sells the citrus also sell unsprayed strawberries and melons, etc. in spring and summer. When they are on sale for 99 per pound I will buy non-organic CA grapes grown within a several hour drive vs. organic grapes from far away. I am feeding teens, and they can easily consume a pound of grapes daily per person. Heck, most days my teens eat 8 - 12 servings of fresh fruit daily (in addition to the frozen fruit in smoothies). Not only would I go broke if it was all organic, but it wouldn't be as fresh and nutritious.

    I don't care about the hype. I don't think science can tell us for certain was synthetic pesticides and fertilizers are doing to our bodies, but I also think our bodies are pretty resilient. I ere on the side of caution and buy organic, but my main motivation is the environment and the real human costs of using these pesticides, fungicides, etc. Maybe a little pesticide residue on lettuce is never going to hurt me, but I do worry about what it might do to the migrant workers who are around it constantly, and to those whose water supply is affected by it. I also think that the bee issue is real and significant.

    All that said, I do think that eating conventional produce is better than not eating produce at all, and I would (and did) choose conventional if I was in the process of paying off debt and achieving some measure of financial peace.

  2. #12
    Senior Member Packy's Avatar
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    Well, what about Pizza? Do you kids ever have organic pizza, extra-extra large,with pepperoni, Italian sausage, Canadian bacon, And piled HIGH with Oooey-Gooey Mozzzarellla Cheese, that are ALL certified Organic, gluten-free, no BGH? Sounds a lot healthier, does it not? From what the "Help Wanted" ads say, Pizza Delivery Drivers can make darn good money, so it certainly sounds like there is no exploitation involved, either. Just Curious.

  3. #13
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    Like everything, it's more complicated than just yes or no.

    http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/ALB00035...y-Organic.html

    You have to pick your battles - some foods are much better to buy organic, for some you get much less bang for the buck. And you have to toss in the arguments of local vs. not/US vs. imported, etc.

    Organic is still a certified designation, although some have been fighting hard to weaken it so they could paste "organic" on everything.

    For expiration dates - I've sorted discarded items at the food banks. For canned/boxed much of what we sort can be up to 6 months past code date - main exceptions being mayo and salad dressings. Not that they are not safe, but quality and taste can go south after code date.

  4. #14
    Senior Member SteveinMN's Avatar
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    creaker pretty well hits the mark for me.

    For us, "organic" ties primarily into sustainability. Using less-invasive chemicals or alternate growing methods to control the bad stuff is just more sustainable over time -- especially for some crops which seem especially susceptible to accumulating residue. Creating agricultural businesses with enough of a margin to not have to depend on undocumented workers to make them financially viable is sustainable. Raising animals which are not accentuated freakishly to accommodate market preferences is sustainable. While it is possible to buy organic produce shipped from halfway around the world and organic junk food (cookies, pop), most organic producers I know are not growing with unsustainable planting practices or animals penned into unnatural settings and most of them believe in the sustainability of their business, too.

    There is some abuse of the "organic" label. If it's labeled "organic", it should say what organization certified the product. IME the USDA organic designation is the one most prone to legislative tampering; other certifications (like Oregon Tilth) are more resistant to the money.

    I don't know necessarily that organic is more healthful for humans than not. Some flabby-looking organic carrots from 1200 miles away may avoid some pesticides/herbicides conventional carrots might carry, but probably lack the nutrients fresher carrots would offer. Organisms like e. coli do not discriminate between organic and conventional crops. I prefer to buy free-range chickens which are not treated with antibiotics, partially because I see what constant exposure to antibiotics is doing to us and partially because they taste far better than "factory" chickens. So there's always more than one variable in the equation.

    Expiration dates? Another question for which there is no set answer. Eggs will keep far longer than the expiration date on the carton. Milk, for us, does not, since it's opened and is not finished before the date arrives. Crackers with lots of shortening (e.g., Ritz) will go rancid faster than water crackers. The produce I buy at ALDI typically does not last as long as what I buy at the coop; I think it has to do partially with the length of the supply chain and partially because ALDI does not refrigerate or mist their produce. Hard to say. The taste test always works -- that and experience to know when something is "off".
    Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome. - Booker T. Washington

  5. #15
    Senior Member IshbelRobertson's Avatar
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    I've bought only organically raised meat, milk and egg for over 25 years. All purchased from a local butcher whose family members farm on the city outskirts, so I can trace meat, eggs, pies, sausage and haggis back to specific farms. Doesn't mean I never eat non organic, I will eat whatever is put cooked when visiting friends or rellies, or restaurants, without a fuss.

    Fruit and veg... Not quite so fussy, although I do prefer the flavours of SOME organically grown veg, i prefer to buy local, seaonal veg and fruit. In winter that's almost impossible here as it would mean a never ending diet of root veggies and brassicas

  6. #16
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    I agree with most of the comments above. We are more interested in the long-term environmental benefits of organic food than in its specific effects on our bodies. We also don't trust corporate brand name versions of 'organic' food, or any processed 'organic' convenience food.

    There are local small-scale farmers who may not be officially certified as organic, but produce food by that method. It's good to get to know them. The carbon footprint of the local food is so much smaller than that of imported (from across the globe) so-called 'organic', that local uncertified seems like a good choice.

    Our food mostly comes from our garden, from small producers (mostly organic) within an hour's drive of home, and the rest from a bulk foods store whose sources are harder to track. If I'm not sure about a particular food, I just don't buy it. That includes fruit from Chile. I read that pesticides which were banned in N. America are still used in S. America. I doubt that washing the fruit would help in that situation. There are also coatings on commercial fruits made with nanoparticles (to keep them from drying and shrinking in weight). Since no one knows where these nanoparticles end up once they enter our bodies, we are the guinea pigs for another high-tech experiment.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3060016/

  7. #17
    Senior Member Blackdog Lin's Avatar
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    An interesting discussion.

    In a perfect world I of course would grow/purchase only certified organic and locally sourced foods. It HAS to be better for a body. I believe that.

    But I don't live in that perfect world.
    - I'm retired and have to pick-and-choose my frugal battles. Upping my grocery budget by 50% or more doesn't interest me.
    - We garden, a largish one, and can/preserve all of it we can. We try to do organic, but some years the bugs/diseases are just beyond that. It's basically a weather thing. After spending all the money and time on getting the garden in, if it has to be Sevin'd, then so be it. I am not interested in spending an additional 20 hours a week (on top of the 12 hours a week it takes generally) to try to preserve it organically.
    - I know of exactly one grassfed/organic beef supplier in our area, 25-30 miles away (though I think they do deliver to a centralized point in a town only 10 miles away). Prices for same are 50% higher than my "sale-ad" grocery purchasing. I have never seen ads for or heard of any poultry or pork suppliers in our area at all. No dairies either.
    - We have chickens, and thus fresh eggs much of the year (not right now, the #*#!% slackers!) but feeding them an organic feed is, while technically feasible, not very simple or practical. So I can't really say we have "organic" eggs - just "happy" eggs, from happy chickens.

    I can't conceive of the boring diet we'd have if I tried to go organic/locally sourced. It certainly wouldn't be simple living, it would be incredibly complicated. And I am all about the simplifying of my life these days.

    I am stuck with just trying to eat more fresh produce, and less processed foods.

    It seems now, after typing this out, that a lot of the thing lies in where one lives, if one truly believes in the organic hype. I do believe in much of it - I just don't live in a practical place to observe it.

  8. #18
    Senior Member SteveinMN's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blackdog Lin View Post
    It seems now, after typing this out, that a lot of the thing lies in where one lives, if one truly believes in the organic hype. I do believe in much of it - I just don't live in a practical place to observe it.
    I think you're on to something, Lin. It's very easy for us, in a large metropolitan area, to find local producers of lots of organic foods (though, of course, not everything). I live two miles from two food cops and not much further away from several stores which offer at least a decent line of organically-produced food. I suspect that the density of people willing to buy provides a market and the number of stores offering organic food provides some competition.

    I think some of the "belief" is economic, too -- we have (and are willing to spend) the extra money it costs to buy the organic goods we want (though, again, not everything). It's a priority for us. If we lived in outstate Minnesota or were on food assistance, though, it would be much harder and/or we'd have to be far more selective.

    It interests me that my cop is opening a third store in a section of town that is, let's say, not one of Minnesota's most expensive ZIP codes -- it comes with some sales challenges compared to where cops often site here. The cop has introduced a low-priced membership (based on income) that is totally equivalent to regular membership. There also are WIC labels applied prominently to the foods that qualify. They're aware there's at least a perceptional gap about organics and sustainably-produced food and they are trying to address it.
    Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome. - Booker T. Washington

  9. #19
    Senior Member Rogar's Avatar
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    Another aspect of organic is that it usually exempts GMOs. At least the crops that are Roundup resistant and promote indiscriminate use of herbicides. GMO labeling was on our recent election ballot and I tried to study up on it. My best read is that the health effects of GMOs are either minor or yet to be determined. But the environment effects of increased herbicide use have some documented effects, such as the elimination of milkweed from the ecological chain. Which in turn has resulted in reducing the Monarch Butterfly population that depends on the milkweed. Not to mention the pollution of runoff into waterways and the promotion of sterile soil agriculture.

  10. #20
    Senior Member Polliwog's Avatar
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    Thank you all for your insightful comments. I always know that I can get the best advice, etc from this group. I like Creaker's link to Dr Weil's list of foods that you do not have to buy organic vs the ones that you should.

    Linda

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