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Which foods taste better organic?

f
fara Jul 31, 2006 12:46 PM

So I generally buy whichever produce looks better. Was buying "ugly tomatoes" that were local and organic but they were all about to expire when I went yesterday to WF. I bought local conventional instead. Maybe it's the variety they grew, but nothing like the organic ones.
What is your experience, does organic usually taste better? Which items do you think will generally taste better organic?

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  1. JMF Jul 31, 2006 01:19 PM

    If you grow the same strain of tomatoes or anything conventional vs. organic they will taste the same. The things that control flavor are the breed/strain, the location, amount of sun, temperature, humidity, quality of soil and fertilization,and other factors like hydroponic, greenhouses, or outdoors.

    The term Organic doesn't have anything to do with taste. It just means that no synthetic substances were used in the production.

    There is good and bad organic farming just like there is good and bad conventional farming.

    12 Replies
    1. re: JMF
      Morton the Mousse Jul 31, 2006 06:23 PM

      Are you actually suggesting that soil content has no impact on a plant's flavor? All other things being equal, a mixture of organic compost and worm castings will produce a far superior tomato than a petroleum derived NPK "soil" base.

      1. re: JMF
        f
        foiegras Jul 31, 2006 07:27 PM

        Sorry, but that's completely wrong. Chemical fertilizers grow plants at unnatural speeds. Anything (animal, vegetable) grown the old-fashioned way has both more nutrients and often more taste.

        Btw, we now have industrial organic farming, which is different from the old-fashioned way.

        1. re: foiegras
          Josh Jul 31, 2006 08:44 PM

          That sounds like conjecture to me. Do you have any evidence supporting your contentions?

          1. re: Josh
            MollyGee Jul 31, 2006 11:28 PM

            Here's a PubMed article making this claim.

            http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/qu...

            As far as taste...Well, perhaps our tastebuds like to taste more nutritious stuff, but then again, if that were true fewer people would eat fast/junk food.

            1. re: MollyGee
              Robert Lauriston Jul 31, 2006 11:49 PM

              The problem with junk food is that it's too nutritious.

              1. re: MollyGee
                Josh Aug 1, 2006 12:34 AM

                Interesting find. I'd like to know a little bit more about the vegetables in question. i.e. what aspect of the organic farming yielded such a difference - or did it? Were the varieties of the vegetables tested identical?

                Intriguing though - thanks.

                1. re: MollyGee
                  Robert Lauriston Aug 1, 2006 12:42 AM

                  That's just a survey of existing literature, so probably no controls whatsoever.

                  1. re: MollyGee
                    f
                    fara Aug 1, 2006 01:26 AM

                    Robert Lauriston, review literature "reviews" other literature. It doesn't report any new experiments, hence no control if no experiment.

                    1. re: MollyGee
                      Josh Aug 1, 2006 02:09 AM

                      If there's no control, then the conclusions are meaningless.

                      1. re: MollyGee
                        MollyGee Aug 1, 2006 03:18 AM

                        There's lots of links about this issue here:

                        http://www.ccof.org/org_resources.php

                        Some of the studies reviewed by the author originally cited above *did* have controls. The most conclusive studies have been on grapefruit, potatoes and leafy greens. Some of the links given by the CCOF above contain arguments that the results of these studies are inconclusive. I have yet to find an article that conclusively says that there is no difference between conventianal and organic produce or that conventional produce is more ntritious than organic produce.

                        1. re: MollyGee
                          Morton the Mousse Aug 1, 2006 06:55 PM

                          I'm confused as to why people are suggesting that there are no controls in this survey. Yes, this is a review of existing literature and yes, it is impossible to use a control when conducting a review, but all of the studies it is reviewing used controls. People are essentially suggesting that scientific reviews are intrinsically invalid.

                          As to what aspect of the farming yields a difference: to me the situation is completely intuitive. A complex, whole soil nurtures a complex, whole plant which nurtures a complex, whole human. What we are doing with industrial agriculture is taking hundreds of thousands of years of soil, plant and human evolution and throwing it all out the window by saying we can reduce this complex organism (an organism that we still do not fully understand) down to NPK. Any soil scientist who is not on Monsanto's payroll will agreee that this preposition is completely absurd. Personally, I feel that it is the responsibility of industrial agriculture to prove nutritional equivalence because they are the ones who are instituting a drastic change in where our food comes from and what we eat.

                          Other individuals are welcome to risk their health on industrial agriculture's assumptions, but I'd rather eat the food that my ancestors have been eating for thousands of years; the food that I evolved to eat and the food that evolved to feed me.

                    2. re: JMF
                      f
                      Foodie in Friedberg Apr 24, 2007 05:19 AM

                      The only thing I can taste a significant difference in is milk; organic milk is enjoyable whereas I find conventional milk downright gross (unless loaded with Ovaltine!).

                      Other than milk, I can say I've had good and bad meats and produce in both organic and conventional categories.

                    3. m
                      mrsjoujou Jul 31, 2006 03:33 PM

                      In my experience organic usually taste better. I specially like organic fruit. I had the most delicious organic nectarines a while back and I try to buy as much organic as I can.

                      1. m
                        mattesq Jul 31, 2006 03:40 PM

                        Its not produce, but the number one thing I think tastes better organic are eggs. Organic eggs from a local farmer are so much better than commerical eggs. The yolk in an organic egg are almost tangerine orange and incredibly rich.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: mattesq
                          c
                          CulinaryKate Aug 2, 2006 12:34 PM

                          I totally concur. This also has an impact on how fresh the eggs are, and the diet of the chickens, which TOTALLY changes the flavor.

                          Another difference can be found between conventional beef and beef that has been grass fed and is free range; you would definitely notice a difference in texture and flavor

                        2. Josh Jul 31, 2006 03:43 PM

                          I'd say that any taste differences you encounter are due more to a general improvement in the care of the crop than the fact that it's organic. You can have home-grown fruits and vegetables that were sprayed with pesticides that still taste amazing.

                          Most organic farms are small in size, and run by independent farmers who care about their produce.

                          1. j
                            JudiAU Jul 31, 2006 03:43 PM

                            Organic free range eggs and milk are always superior to nonorganic versions.

                            The best produce is local, seasonal, and organic. Local cuts down on transportation costs and polutants and insures freshness. Seasonal gives you peak produce. And organic is better for the Earth, the farm workers, and your body.

                            An organic peach in November from Chile is not going to taste as a good a local seasonal apple.

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: JudiAU
                              l
                              Loren3 Jul 31, 2006 06:38 PM

                              "Organic free range eggs and milk are always superior"

                              WRONG! The worst eggs I have ever had in my life were organic free range. It is a generalization that organic is better, and in this case the generalization led me to a big mistake. Eggs are a good example of "you are what you eat". I don't know what this farmer was letting his chickens eat, but boy did it get into the eggs. They tasted like rotten vegetables, which is probably what he was feeding them. My then-gf (now spouse) loves organic, and neither of us could finish these things, they were so bad.

                              An organic farmer in Maine, near where my dad's farm is, made a similar mistake when one of his cows got into some trash and ate some grapefruit rinds. Ruined the milk for days.

                              The truer assessment is that, until its Walmartization, organic implied a greater care for what went into the raising of a crop or animal, and that was the real key to its better flavor. Also, many species grown by organic farmers are chosen for their taste, not their ability to withstand a tractor-trailer for four days.

                              It's as JMF posted above, organic by itself is not a guarantee of better tasting. It pays to know the source of the food, regardless of your choice of organic or not.

                              1. re: Loren3
                                s
                                SKing Aug 1, 2006 06:37 PM

                                Were they orangic and "vegetarian" eggs? A lot of organic eggs come from vegetarian-fed chickens who produce terrible eggs. It seems odd to me that people would impose a vegetarian lifestyle on animals that, like robins, really enjoy worms/bugs.

                                1. re: SKing
                                  p
                                  piccola Aug 2, 2006 03:02 AM

                                  I'm pretty sure "vegetarian" eggs are just called that because chickens aren't fed animal meal, not because they're prevented from eating bugs.

                              2. re: JudiAU
                                ponocat Sep 17, 2006 08:42 PM

                                I decided after reading all of the above to do a taste test. On my island here in Hawaii, we have wild chickens. I caught one, caged it, and waited for an egg. (I moved the cage regularly so that it would stay on its regular diet of centipedes, bugs, etc.) When I got one, I bought two sets of eggs from the store, one organic and the other non. The eggs were all brown shell and the dates on the purchased ones were within days of each other. The results:

                                The wild chicken egg was smaller than the others. The yolk was golden and very thick, even when cooked "sunny side up". It was delicious.

                                The organic egg was outstanding in taste, larger than the wild one, and the yolk was yellower than the non-organic, but not as rich in color as the wild one.

                                The non-organic egg was very bland compared to the other two and the color of the yolk was muted.

                                I don't have time to deal with wild chickens, so I am going with the organic ones.

                                Someone mentioned above that different organic "brands" can vary in taste. I will get the brand I used and post it if anyone is interested.

                              3. ipsedixit Jul 31, 2006 06:13 PM

                                In my experience, nothing organic tastes better than its "non-organic" counterpart.

                                Organic produce is usually smaller, less sweet and more expensive. I'll gladly take my chances with pesticides and horomones down the road with the enjoyment of full-flavor today ...

                                5 Replies
                                1. re: ipsedixit
                                  f
                                  feelinpeckish Aug 1, 2006 01:01 PM

                                  That is my take on the whole discussion too. Can you imagine the size of farm yields is no steps were taken to enhance survival from insect damage and plant disease. And I'd be more than happy if the super market produce were from this country rather than half the way around the world.

                                  1. re: feelinpeckish
                                    Robert Lauriston Aug 1, 2006 06:33 PM

                                    There are lots of ways organic farmers can and do control pests. They just have to avoid certain products.

                                    1. re: feelinpeckish
                                      Morton the Mousse Aug 1, 2006 06:41 PM

                                      Insect damage and plant disease are a direct result of monoculture-a relatively recent development in agricultural technique and one of the fundamental (and flawed) principles of industrial agriculture. A well integrated farm using permaculture will have no problems with crop loss and has no need for harmful, expensive, and environmentally deleterious pesticides and fertilizers (in fact, it will have higher year round crop yield per acre than an industrialized mega-farm). For a detailed, scientific explanation of how and why integrative farming works I recommend Permaculture: A Designer's Manual by the brilliant Bill Mollison.

                                      As an afterthought: considering that this country is suffering from epidemic obesity, that our government has absurdly high grain surpluses and is in fact paying farmers not to grow food, and that for the first time in world history the number of people dying from overeating has exceeded the number of people dying from undereating, I am very skeptical as to the potential for devastating loss from lower crop yields. If anything, an increase in food prices would probably be good for the health of this country.

                                      1. re: Morton the Mousse
                                        choctastic Oct 15, 2006 02:05 AM

                                        Uh, a couple of things...

                                        Insect damage and plant disease predate monoculture/industrial farming. I think what you should have said was that a farm that actually makes an effort to feed the soil is less likely to hgave insect damage or disease because the plants are healthier as a result of such feeding.

                                        Also, organic farmers DO get damage from pest and disease too. In fact, because they don't use certain chemicals to combat pests, such farmers may face a larger loss than the conventional farmer which may force them to price such items higher. While better soil health can combat disease/pests to a certain extent, it's not a magic pill that solves all problems including world peace. Even the best farmer can have a bad year.

                                    2. re: ipsedixit
                                      k
                                      Kagey Sep 20, 2006 09:23 AM

                                      That's been my experience too. I usually can't tell the difference, but with whole chickens (which I roast), I'm finding that the non-organic ones always come out better than the organic ones.

                                      I do stick with organic when buying certain products because I'd like to minimize intake of hormones and pesticides. But when flavor suffers and there's such a marked difference in cost, I'll go with the non-organic chicken. Might have to do some more comparing though.

                                    3. mabziegurl Jul 31, 2006 06:16 PM

                                      its not really produce, but the frozen tater tots are really good. they have a sweet taste to them

                                      (this was the first organic thing i tasted, i worked as a nanny for an autistic child and made this for him and i almost ate it all up!)

                                      1. m
                                        melly Jul 31, 2006 06:29 PM

                                        Eggs, milk, cottage cheese, and peanut butter!

                                        1. Robert Lauriston Jul 31, 2006 06:34 PM

                                          The best produce comes from home gardens and small family farms. Where I live, in Northern California, most family farms are organic, so most of the best produce is organic. But there are some non-organic family farms that also grow good stuff.

                                          Produce from corporate factory farms is generally mediocre whether it's organic or not. So the organic label per se doesn't mean the produce will taste better.

                                          1. Morton the Mousse Jul 31, 2006 06:40 PM

                                            It's a tough question because the word "organic" is basically meaningless. Will an "organic" peach fresh off the tree of a small, artisinal farm taste better than one that was grown on a 1,000 acre farm in the Central Valley, picked two weeks early, kept in cold storage and ripened with gas? Absolutely! Will an "organic" peach grown on 1,000 acre farm in Chile, that adheres to the bare minimum of Federal organic guidelines and uses all of the acceptable pesticides and fertilizers taste better than a "conventional" peach fresh off the tree in my Grandpa's back yard? Most definitely not. Will that "organic" peach grown in Chile taste any better than a "conventional" peach grown in Chile when they were both picked unripe and transported 1000s of miles? Probably not. (Actually the conventional one may taste better if its been infused with preservatives or modified to ripen off the tree.) And what about those "beyon organic" farms that eschew Federal Organic Certification for political reasons but still grow the best damn peaches I've ever tasted? Where do we classify them?

                                            The best produce is that which is grown on small farms with healthy soil using artisinal methods, heirloom seeds, ideally dry-farmed, picked when ripe and eaten as fresh as possible. Whether that produce is technically classified as "organic" or "conventional" is irrelevant.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: Morton the Mousse
                                              a
                                              antjones9 Jul 31, 2006 09:01 PM

                                              exactly!

                                            2. c
                                              cheryl_h Jul 31, 2006 06:48 PM

                                              Organic is often confused with local, heirloom, small family farm. As JMF and Morton the Mousse point it, it has nothing to do with how well the farmer does his/her job or how pure their intentions are, it refers only to the use of conventional fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides. There are large organic producers and small conventional farms.

                                              I buy as much as possible from the producer who is usually a small farmer. I would prefer that they avoid chemicals but that's less important to me than the quality of what they produce and how they treat their livestock. There are many small farmers who can't afford to go through the certification process, and organic farmers who use every loophole to take advantage of the label. When WalMart starts selling organic groceries later this year, will everyone believe they have suddenly become stewards of the earth, or just cynical marketers?

                                              1. m
                                                melly Jul 31, 2006 08:46 PM

                                                Try Horizon Organic Cottage Cheese....I cannot stop once I start!

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: melly
                                                  c
                                                  cheryl_h Jul 31, 2006 08:55 PM

                                                  I could say that about many foods!

                                                  1. re: melly
                                                    Dommy Jul 31, 2006 08:59 PM

                                                    I didn't know they made a Cottage Cheese! Will have to try it out! :)

                                                    --Dommy!

                                                  2. Karl S Jul 31, 2006 09:30 PM

                                                    It varies. There is, in my tastebud experience, no guarantee that organic necessarily will taste better, for the reasons others have alluded to above. I've had plenty of crappy and mediocre organic food.

                                                    1. p
                                                      piccola Aug 1, 2006 12:53 AM

                                                      i haven't found a consistent taste difference. sometimes conventional tastes better, sometimes organic does.

                                                      i find that i can tell mostly for processed foods - ie, peanut butter, cereal, bread, etc.- if only because many organic products have less "other stuff" in them. but the difference is due to lack of additives/sugar/salt/whatever, not to the organic production.

                                                      1. v
                                                        vanillagrrl Aug 1, 2006 04:25 AM

                                                        I don't like a lot of organic butters (including Horizon's around here) -- they often taste rancid to me long before other butters do.

                                                        2 Replies
                                                        1. re: vanillagrrl
                                                          c
                                                          CulinaryKate Aug 2, 2006 12:37 PM

                                                          that's because they don't use anti-biotics in the milk making process and don't always paturize as heavily as conventional which leads to milk and butter that might spoil faster; so actually it's a good thing. I usually buy my organic butter by the stick rather than by the pound unless I am baking.

                                                          1. re: vanillagrrl
                                                            f
                                                            foiegras Aug 2, 2006 04:50 PM

                                                            I use Organic Valley butter and don't experience any problems. Btw, celery is on the top 10 "buy organic" list and I do. I can tell a big difference when I buy the free range eggs from Whole Foods, and Central Market's organic milk tastes great, as does Organic Valley. But to me every brand of milk tastes different. Before I knew better than to drink conventional milk I had a strong brand preference.

                                                            If you read about grass vs grain fed beef, it becomes quickly apparent that our palates have been trained to prefer industrial grain fed beef, even though the diet is bad for both the cows and us. The other issue is that the companies that make organic foods are smaller, so the consistency and know-how may not always be there. McDonalds knows how to make food that tastes good to a lot of people ... unfortunately it's some of the most unhealthy stuff imaginable.

                                                            I've tried, for example, every organic brand of mac & cheese out there, and none can compete with Kraft. That's the small company problem.

                                                            Part of the issue may be that we have "industrial" palates that need to be retrained.

                                                            When I switched to natural, unsweetened toothpaste, it took me a day or so to get used to it ... now I gag if I have to use the regular stuff. Unfortunately some lifetime bad food habits are not as easily overcome ...

                                                          2. m
                                                            monday Aug 1, 2006 08:53 AM

                                                            I do a lot of shopping at the farmers' market. I also pick up quite a bit of stuff at Whole Foods, though I'm just as likely to make my way in to one of the Chinese neighborhoods in SF for conventional but dirt cheap produce (I can't imagine that organic celery will really make much difference in a stock). One thing that I will never go back on is mayonnaise.

                                                            It was one of those days at Whole Foods when I just needed some mayo and picked up some that was organic. The brand is Spectrum, and it was a sort of revelation for me. It is really delicious, and I am not a fan of mayo in general. It's a little more expensive than Best Foods, but so far, it has made every recipe that calls for mayo (and every sandwich) so much better that it is well worth it.

                                                            That experience has made me pay more attention to all sorts of foods that I took for granted. I can no longer eat certain kinds of cream cheese (Kraft). I seek organic alternatives to all sorts of foods with an open mind. So far, it's not all better, but it's rarely worse, and I feel good about making a market for organic products.

                                                            P.S. Whole Foods 360 brand "Triscuts" don't hold a candle to the original, but the cheese curls are much better than Cheetos!

                                                            2 Replies
                                                            1. re: monday
                                                              s
                                                              soupkitten Oct 18, 2006 07:41 PM

                                                              good post-- i had the same experience with organic bananas-- thought they would taste the same, but went, er, bananas when I tasted how different and better organic ones were. now i can't go back-- I'm re-ing because i feel the same about organic celery-- yes it makes a huge difference in stock & soup! many people ask me "what's the herb in this?" & it's organic celery! I used to think celery was a completely useless vegetable but now i realize i was just eating watery, nasty conventionally grown celery, so I really encourage you to try it one time & see!

                                                              1. re: soupkitten
                                                                m
                                                                monday Jan 28, 2007 02:01 AM

                                                                So true. I think that in writing that post, I began to wonder if I was right or not. I've since switched to organic celery, and use less of it to better effect in my stocks. Now I have to find organic bananas!

                                                            2. Scagnetti Aug 1, 2006 04:28 PM

                                                              My wife, who has been eating organically even before it became fashionable, turned me onto organic chicken from Whole Foods. It does put supermarket chicken to shame. It's moister and just tastes better.

                                                              I've tried many other organic products including eggs and milk and find no taste difference compared to conventional products.

                                                              4 Replies
                                                              1. re: Scagnetti
                                                                c
                                                                cheryl_h Aug 1, 2006 05:22 PM

                                                                Are you talking about Bell and Evans or WF Amish chickens? If so, I believe one reason they taste better is because they're processed differently from most supermarket chickens. Bell & Evans and the Amish air-cool their chickens. Most of the big producers scald the chickens which changes the appearance and texture of the skin.

                                                                More here (requires registration):

                                                                http://americastestkitchen.com/tastin...

                                                                1. re: Scagnetti
                                                                  Karl S Aug 1, 2006 05:25 PM

                                                                  While we have been largely focusing on produce, this mention of chicken illustrates another aspect of the problem. Often, the non-organic brand(s) that are available to people in the market (Perdue comes readily to mind) are going to easily be beaten by almost anything else. I usually get organic birds if Perdue is my only other choice. But if I have the time to stop by a local family-run fresh-killed poultry store, there chicken is a better bet even though it's not organic. And a local fresh-killed kosher poultry option would be my top choice, regardless of its organic status. In this case, it's not the organic nature of the product that is the telling quality, but other attributes of the options.

                                                                  1. re: Karl S
                                                                    c
                                                                    cheryl_h Aug 1, 2006 05:51 PM

                                                                    The link I gave above will also give the results of ATK's taste tests. Of the 5 they recommended, the top three (Empire, Bell & Evans and Tyson) are not certified organic. The bottom one (or two - D'Artagnan and Eberley, the same chickens but labelled differently) is organic.

                                                                    1. re: Karl S
                                                                      Morton the Mousse Aug 1, 2006 06:46 PM

                                                                      Again, we get into the essential meaninglessnes of organic certification. A fresh bird grown on a small, non-certified, family farm and butchered by hand will taste a thousand times better than a frozen, "organic" bird from Petaluma Poultry. But an heirloom chicken from the Heritage Foundation raised outdoors on a diet of fresh grasses, seeds, vegetables and insects will taste a thousand times better than either.

                                                                  2. j
                                                                    jordana Aug 1, 2006 05:57 PM

                                                                    This is what I think of when I hear organic.
                                                                    I grow tomatoes, lavender, mint, anise, chamomile and some flowers. Earlier this season I had a lot of ants in one of the plants. I bought some pesticide spray and ant spikes at home depot and used them on all my plants. This was a few months ago and since that episode the plants have been bug free. I only used the bug spray for a short period.A friend of mine who only buys organic produce-- said that what I grow is not organic because I once used bug spray.
                                                                    In my opinion what I grow has been less handled and more natural than other produce that is labelled "organic"

                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. re: jordana
                                                                      c
                                                                      cheryl_h Aug 1, 2006 06:11 PM

                                                                      Your friend is right. The USDA has strict rules about certification. See this link:

                                                                      http://www.ams.usda.gov/nop/FactSheet...

                                                                    2. Robert Lauriston Aug 1, 2006 06:44 PM

                                                                      Comparing the organic and conventional produce at the farmers markets I frequent, 80-90% of the time the best stuff is organic.

                                                                      I belive that's because farmers who make the extra effort to grow higher-quality produce are also more likely to take the trouble to get certified organic.

                                                                      It's clearly not because organic is per se better, since supermarket organic produce is so inferior to what I get at the farmers market.

                                                                      1. s
                                                                        SKing Aug 1, 2006 06:44 PM

                                                                        The only thing organic I buy strictly is greens. I'm surprised there hasn't been more talk about them.

                                                                        Kale, collards, mustards, and chard taste much different. Not to say other vegetation isn't sensitive chemicals, but I figure that the much larger surface area of a plant like bitter greens absorbs and retains certain chemical tastes much more than other produce.

                                                                        Winter variety kale definitely shows it the most. Convential winter kale is barely sweet compared to it's oraganic coutner part in my experience, but the organic kale wasn't necessarily from a local farmer.

                                                                        12 Replies
                                                                        1. re: SKing
                                                                          Robert Lauriston Aug 1, 2006 07:03 PM

                                                                          I get some turnip greens from a non-organic farmer that are as tasty as the ones from organic vendors.

                                                                          I suspect the most important things are location, weather, and soil amendments--the guy also sells eggs, probably fertilizes with their manure.

                                                                          The most flavorful vegetables I've had in the U.S. are from Knoll Farms, which is not certified organic. Lots of info about their practices:

                                                                          http://www.knollorganics.com/intro.htm

                                                                          1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                                                            f
                                                                            foiegras Aug 1, 2006 10:45 PM

                                                                            I would agree that there's certainly nothing magical about "certified organic." The distinction I would draw would be between traditional methods and industrial methods.

                                                                            When you pile on chemical fertilizers to super-size your crops, which then balloon unnaturally, it seems like a no-brainer to me that you're going to get less taste. More growing time, more flavor in many cases ...

                                                                            The other issue is variety ... more flavor in old-fashioned varietals than in newfangled industrial hybrids that may be shipped across the country (or world) unripe.

                                                                            Everything I've read has convinced me that organic and similar produce is better for me, but even if it were only equal, I would find the fact that organic/natural farming methods are better for the earth and environment and ultimately again us, compelling by itself.

                                                                            1. re: foiegras
                                                                              Karl S Aug 1, 2006 11:00 PM

                                                                              It's quite easy to over-fertilize organically. It was done for centuries, after all.

                                                                              1. re: Karl S
                                                                                e
                                                                                Eldon Kreider Aug 2, 2006 03:29 AM

                                                                                The law of diminishing marginal returns was formulated in the early 19th century based on the application of manure to farmland.

                                                                                One of the big problems with large livestock operations is a tendency to apply excessive amounts of manure to nearby farmland because hauling farther is expensive.

                                                                                1. re: Karl S
                                                                                  Morton the Mousse Aug 2, 2006 04:17 PM

                                                                                  It's easy to over fertilize organically but a good organic farmer uses just the right amount. Today, farmers can combine a modern understanding of plant biology and soil science with traditional knowledge. Of course, only a select few get it "right on," but when they do the results are incredible.

                                                                                  1. re: Karl S
                                                                                    Karl S Aug 2, 2006 05:58 PM

                                                                                    Btw, the ability of non-organic farmers to use just the right amount of fertilizer is no different than that of organic farmers.

                                                                                    1. re: Karl S
                                                                                      f
                                                                                      foiegras Aug 2, 2006 07:49 PM

                                                                                      Hmmm, that's news to me. We had a large organic garden while I was growing up, certainly we were all amateurs, and I don't recall a single instance of over-fertilization.

                                                                                2. re: SKing
                                                                                  e
                                                                                  Eldon Kreider Aug 1, 2006 09:19 PM

                                                                                  Kale needs exposure to cold weather, preferably a light frost, to sweeten up optimally. Sweetness is a function of where and when it was grown, not organic or conventional.

                                                                                  1. re: Eldon Kreider
                                                                                    Robert Lauriston Aug 1, 2006 10:34 PM

                                                                                    Where and when are important, but so is how.

                                                                                    I don't think there's any way a huge factory farm using chemical fertilizers is going to grow greens that are as flavorful as those from a small family farm that makes its own compost and compost tea.

                                                                                    I haven't seen my favorite kales (lacinato and Red Russian) except from organic family farms.

                                                                                    1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                                                                      Karl S Aug 1, 2006 11:00 PM

                                                                                      I've seen lacinato in non-organic form.

                                                                                      1. re: Karl S
                                                                                        Robert Lauriston Aug 2, 2006 12:39 AM

                                                                                        Doesn't surprise me. The family farmers create a market for obscure varieties, then the factory farms start growing them.

                                                                                        1. re: Karl S
                                                                                          Karl S Aug 2, 2006 08:52 AM

                                                                                          Actually, most of the family farms I frequent are not organic. The influence is much more complex than that. At best, it may be that organic farms influence chefs and food writers, who then create demand among readers who do not themselves garden.

                                                                                          But, in the case of lacinato, the influence is more likely the presence of people with heritage from certain parts of Italy....

                                                                                  2. pikawicca Aug 2, 2006 12:06 PM

                                                                                    My own experience is that when it comes to produce, I generally can't taste a difference. I do, however, try to buy organic for other reasons. With dairy products, I taste a huge difference. I used to put half-and-half on my cereal until a friend suggested I try Organic Valley 1% milk. It has a lovely mouth-feel and bright, clean taste. After sampling other organic dairy products, I'm a convert.

                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                    1. re: pikawicca
                                                                                      Karl S Aug 2, 2006 01:06 PM

                                                                                      My problem is that most organic dairy is only available in ultra-pasteurized form, which is a severe detriment taste-wise for me.

                                                                                    2. s
                                                                                      shaebones Aug 2, 2006 12:24 PM

                                                                                      Yeah but does the taste justify the huge price difference. i.e. Horizon organic cottage cheese. Cost $2.99/pint
                                                                                      Cabot (which is quite good) was on sale for $1.39 /pint. Less than half the price!!!

                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                      1. re: shaebones
                                                                                        c
                                                                                        cheryl_h Aug 2, 2006 12:57 PM

                                                                                        That's a whole other issue. For many people, price is the driving factor. For others with more means, they have the luxury of choice.

                                                                                      2. Morton the Mousse Sep 19, 2006 10:06 PM

                                                                                        Somebody has been reading a bit too much Monsanto propaganda...

                                                                                        Food shortages and worldwide starvation are a distribution issue, not a production issue.

                                                                                        More importantly, there are four primary reasons why our industrial food production system will lead to long term, possibly epidemic food shortages.

                                                                                        1) It is completely dependant on petroleum, a scarce resource
                                                                                        2) It depletes soil fertility
                                                                                        3) It minimizes crop diversity (If you don't think that's an issue, study the Irish/Scandanavian potato famine)
                                                                                        4) It eliminates fertile seeds thus forcing the small farmer to be dependant on transnational corporations.

                                                                                        The fact that "organic" food tastes better and is more nutritious is almost beside the point. (By "organic" I mean food produced based on the original principles of the organic movement which does not necessarily include all food that is Certified Organic.)

                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                        1. re: Morton the Mousse
                                                                                          Morton the Mousse Sep 22, 2006 05:42 PM

                                                                                          Hmmm, this comment looks very snarky since the mods eliminated the post that it responded to.

                                                                                        2. b
                                                                                          Brandon Nelson Sep 18, 2006 11:37 PM

                                                                                          A lot of folks seem to miss the "why" of this situation.

                                                                                          Factory farmed supermarket bound produce isn't bred to be tasty. Example, the ideal supermarket peach is red (don't know why that is the favored color) and hard. Supermakets buy hard fruit because it ships well and displays well. Less product is lost through harvest, transportation, warehousing, distribution, and to customers rough hands. If it turns out to be flavorful too thats a nice bonus.

                                                                                          In contrast Ron Mansfield of Goldbud farms grows his peachs to full maturity. He selected the varieties of fruit he grows based on their taste and texture. He produces a crop that sees a regular 30% loss at the first level. The economic impact has got to be profound.

                                                                                          One grower pursues maximum quantity, the other maximum quality. The entity chasing numbers has no economic advantage to gaining organic certs. Goldbud farms might though.

                                                                                          Smaller farms have the ability to take a few risks like Blenheim apricots and Van cherries. These variaties are heavenly, but never find their way onto the shelves next to Patterson apricots and Bing cherries.

                                                                                          Keep in mid that gaining organic certs is a lengthy and expensive process. Just because a farm doesn't have certification doesn't mean they don't follow the same practices. The "whole soil, whole plant, whole body" take makes for fabulous ad copy, but fabulous produce can be produced with hydroponic methods.

                                                                                          Those who pretend that an organic lable means "pesticide free" don't know the whole story. Certain pesticides and herbacides can be used. It is the nature and source of the components that determine whether it is acceptable to organic certs or not. Some of those approved substance aren't any kinder to the environment, or the food chain than their lab bourne siblings.

                                                                                          You might know a little about the history and origin of your coffe beans and syrah, but are you as vigilante about your Chicken? your Apples? Anyone know the breed of the beef they ate? I don't, but thats an exception and not a rule for me.

                                                                                          The organic lable can be an indicator of higher quality, but it isn't a barometer in and of itself.

                                                                                          1. pancake Sep 19, 2006 09:55 PM

                                                                                            organic nuts and organic dried fruit are noticebly better then non-organic, especially if left raw and unseasoned/unsweetened

                                                                                            1. Chocolatechipkt Sep 21, 2006 11:49 PM

                                                                                              Strawberries (other fruits too, but these are my fav. organic fruit, I think)
                                                                                              Chicken
                                                                                              Milk

                                                                                              1. a
                                                                                                andlulu Sep 22, 2006 12:37 PM

                                                                                                Soup.

                                                                                                1. m
                                                                                                  Mill City Modern Sep 22, 2006 03:19 PM

                                                                                                  As has been noted ad nauseum, it's often not the "USDA ORGANIC" label that makes the difference; rather, it's the care and handling that go into a product. As far as supermarket shopping goes, the products that are certified organic are more likely to have benefited from careful growing and handling. Not always, but it is more likely.

                                                                                                  Where I have noticed the biggest differences:

                                                                                                  Coffee (I like a local Minneapolis company called Peace Coffee)
                                                                                                  Seasonal fruit, berries especially
                                                                                                  Eggs and milk
                                                                                                  Chicken

                                                                                                  1. d
                                                                                                    dimples Oct 15, 2006 05:10 PM

                                                                                                    In my experience, organic bananas taste much more flavorful than non organic bananas. I know they are more expensive and from what I have read, it's not necessary to buy organic, but they really taste better.

                                                                                                    4 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: dimples
                                                                                                      f
                                                                                                      Flynn1 Oct 16, 2006 01:26 AM

                                                                                                      Your organic bananas taste better because they haven't been sprayed with ethylene gas to hasten their ripening the way non-organic bananas have.

                                                                                                      1. re: Flynn1
                                                                                                        ponocat Oct 17, 2006 01:55 PM

                                                                                                        Do you mean to say that the ethylene gas causes the poor taste, or that the bananas taste worse because they were picked too early (and hence had too be sprayed with ethylene to get them to ripen)? I heard that the type (breed?) of banana developed for the mass market has been selected for its shelf-life and that the trade-off is less taste. I don't know if this is true, but I do know that in Hawaii, where I live, we have "apple bananas," which are very small and exceedingly sweet and wonderful. But, they have absolutely no shelf-life and the skins are so thin that they cannot survive much handling without bruising and breaking.

                                                                                                        One more thing about bananas--they taste their sweetest, regardless of the type of banana, just when they are starting to get speckled.

                                                                                                        1. re: ponocat
                                                                                                          f
                                                                                                          Flynn1 Oct 17, 2006 04:41 PM

                                                                                                          The non-organic bananas that are sprayed with ethylene gas are picked too early. They just never taste as good as organic bananas.

                                                                                                          You're right about bananas tasting their best when they have those speckled brown spots.

                                                                                                          Bananas are also loaded with potassium - great for your bones.

                                                                                                      2. re: dimples
                                                                                                        Robert Lauriston Oct 17, 2006 07:24 PM

                                                                                                        My experience is the opposite, the organic bananas we get are mostly not so good. But the mass-market name brands aren't the best, either.

                                                                                                      3. a
                                                                                                        allecat22 Oct 17, 2006 06:34 PM

                                                                                                        I had the best baking potato I've ever had last night! It was so rich and creamy even with out all the fat. I don't know if it was certified organic but I got if from a farmers market.

                                                                                                        1. r
                                                                                                          Rebcca Oct 17, 2006 06:42 PM

                                                                                                          It's not produce, but NOTHING comes close to organis pasta sauce (ignoring homemade sauces of course)

                                                                                                          1. calla0413 Jan 28, 2007 06:51 AM

                                                                                                            Personally, I thought there was no difference between organic and conventional foods, just the price - organic being more expensive.

                                                                                                            Then, one summer, I happened upon some organic strawberries. Wow! I've always complained that the strawberries in grocery stores look beautiful but, taste like plastic when you bite into them. These organic strawberries brought me back to my childhood memory of what a strawberry tasted like. Since then, I've been trying all kinds of different organic items.

                                                                                                            Generally, I've found that fruits and vegetables seem to taste a lot more richer and flavorful than their conventional counterparts.

                                                                                                            However, when it comes to junk food...well, I'd settle for whatever I'm craving. If I'm going to be shoveling junk food into my body, it might as well be the best junk food out there!

                                                                                                            1. a
                                                                                                              Alan01 Apr 24, 2007 12:05 AM

                                                                                                              I'm no big organic fan, though I'm changing. I noticed that organic foods taste like they did when I was a kid (I'm born 1964). Most fantastic are bananas, which don't have that strong taste that modern bananas do. It may well be the breed - I'm not sure. I just know that I find them a special treat. Also, I buy organic cranberry coctail. The normal one has corn syrup, which (if you can tell), doesn't taste as nice as sugar.

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