Am I Wasting Money on Organic Foods?

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Am I wasting money on organic foods?
Am I wasting money on organic foods?

With Whole Foods and Fresh Market stores popping up on every corner lately, I have started thinking more and more about buying organic  foods. Of course we all want to feed our families the best and healthiest food we can, but should we buy organic foods or is conventionally farmed food just as good and healthy?

Some people choose organic food because they prefer the taste, but others choose organic because of concerns about pesticides and food additives (preservatives, artificial sweeteners, flavoring, coloring, etc). Some opt for organic foods because the environmental impact is less with organic farming. Organic farmers use natural fertilizers for soil and plants, and  crop rotation or mulch to manage weeds. One thing I learned while researching organic foods is that organic foods are still treated with pesticides, but they are natural pesticides, not synthetic. There seems to be a lot of conflicting information about the nutritional benefits of organic foods.  An article appearing in the Washington Post titled, “Is organic better for your health? A look at milk, meat, eggs, produce and fish,” by breaks down the benefits (or not) of organic foods. Here’s what she had to say….

Milk: Organic milk has higher omega-3 fat levels, but probably not enough to make a difference. Exposure to pesticides, contaminants or hormones is not a significant risk in either organic or conventional milk.

Produce: While there may be no significant nutritional difference between organic and conventional produce, organic does have lower levels of pesticide residue. However, there isn’t universal agreement on the risk those residues pose.

Meat: There doesn’t seem to be much difference, health-wise, between organic or conventional meats. Grass-fed beef has a slight edge over grain-fed because of higher omega-3 levels, but the amounts are probably too small to affect human health.

Eggs: There are no significant differences affecting health between organic and conventional eggs.

Fish: The USDA has not issued any organic standards for farmed fish or shellfish.

The full article can be found here.

Here are a couple things to consider when buying organic.
1. Cost. Organic foods typically cost more than conventionally farmed foods do partly because of more expensive farming practices. Organic foods also tend to spoil faster because they are not treated with preservatives.

2. Buy frozen. Buying organic fruits and vegetables in the frozen section is much cheaper–especially when certain ones are not in season. Some stores often run sales on their organic items too. Another option is to buy locally organic farmed food, or even grow your own in a backyard garden. You can find a list of  local Central Florida organic farms at LocalHarvest.org

While there are strong arguments that organic farming practices are better for the environment, I am not so sure it’s worth it to me to splurge for health reasons. I mean let’s be real, my child (and probably yours too) eats off the floor at times and doesn’t always wash her hands!  So, do you buy organic? If you already do, will you continue? I would love to hear your thoughts. If you have a favorite Central Florida organic farm or a tip for buying organic foods without breaking the bank, I’d love to know that too!

 

3 COMMENTS

  1. Oh, big topic for me!

    We always buy organic milk and any organic dairy products I can find/afford (i.e. cheese, butter). Conventional (non-organic) milk in the US is produced using a hormone called rBST which makes the cows produce more milk. The use of rBST is banned in all of Europe, and in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Israel and Argentina because it was found to cause pain and issues in the cows. There’s also the possibility that rBST may cause cancer. In addition I believe the organic dairy farms treat the cows more humanely than conventional dairy farms. Happy cows mean better milk.

    We also always buy organic eggs for similar reasons. Organic eggs com­e from birds that eat organic feed and are not pumped up with growth hormone or dosed with antibiotics. In addition the organic egg farms treat the birds humanely, unlike the conventional egg farms (factories) that don’t allow them to roam freely (i.e. the idea of “free-range”).

    In general we are animal lovers (and vegetarian) so we vote with our dollars by paying the extra $1-2 for products produced from organic, humanely treated farms.

    Otherwise I try to buy anything with an edible skin in the organic variety. That typically means tomatoes and grapes but can also include lettuce, potatoes, cucumbers, peppers, apples, pears, peaches, plums, etc. The idea is not to eat things that may still have the pesticide residue on the skin. Even a good washing can’t remove it all.

    Oh yeah.. and if you check organic milk expiration dates, they are usually weeks later than conventional milk. That means better shelf-life which could actually SAVE you money. Another good reason to buy organic!

  2. Great topic! I started buying organic milk when my daughter switched over to cow’s milk and I’ll never go back. Check the expiration dates on the organic milk, it lasts much longer than conventional. I also buy whatever produce I can find that is organic, but I especially love organic apples and bananas, I think they taste better. If there is something I want that is not available in organic, I still buy it and I don’t stress out about it, but I try to feed the kids as much organic fruits & veggies as possible. I haven’t ventured into the organic meats yet, but I am definitely not against it. I also stock up on the frozen bags of organic veggies because they are definitely cheaper and last longer.

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