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Which foods taste WORSE organic?

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This post (http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/... ) got me thinking, contrarian.

Here's my list (in no particular order):

1. Most fruits (fuji apples, texas oranges, peaches, plums, nectarines, melons
)2. Peanut Butter
3. Bread
4. Potato chips and pretzels
5. Olive oil
6. Wine

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  1. Fruits? I've never once had organic fruit that was worse than conventionally grown. In fact, usually, it's far better (especially tomatoes!). And I don't get how organic bread could be any worse than conventional, either, unless you're comparing white bread with quadruple-grain multi-seed barley loaf or something.

    That said, not a fan of any organic peanut butters I've had. Beyond that, the ratio of bad to good is generally better than conventional. I've had some awful organic food, but I've also had some bloody terrible conventional food.

    And I should also say I get creeped out by grapes that are all shaped and sized exactly the same.

    1 Reply
    1. re: MuppetGrrl

      I'm not a fan of most organic peanut butters either, so I just try to buy the natural ones without extra added crap/hydrogenated oils. I either get Traders Joes salted peanut butter or Whole Foods grind-your-own(honey roasted is my fav!)

    2. Corn Chips... I can't abide by Organic Corn Chips, too much 'tooth' :P

      --Dommy!

      1 Reply
      1. re: Dommy

        Have you tried Que Pasa organic tortilla chips? I totally agree with you about most organic corn chips being to thick, but Que Pasa's are light, crispy and oh so thin. I haven't found a better bagged tortilla chip.

      2. I agree on the wine, a few I've tasted (and overpaid for) were very bitter and this might draw criticism...but, organic dairy products don't taste right to me.

        10 Replies
        1. re: HillJ

          Which organic dairy are you talking about specifically? An industrial producer like Horizon? Or a smaller scale family farm operation like Strauss? The difference is night and day.

          1. re: Morton the Mousse

            Morton..I can't say I've tried them all but in my area (NJ) I've tried milk thru grocer & health food chain, cheese my cheese shops and yogurt from Whole Foods. It was the after taste that turned me off. Do you have recommendations I can find in my area?

            1. re: HillJ

              Supermarket dairy is passable at beest. Heck, supermarket anything is passable at best.

              For cheese: small, family farms in Europe and North America tend to use organic methods even though they can't afford organic certification. Cheese is a great example of when the line between "organic" and "not-organic" gets fuzzy. Either way, the worst cheese is the stuff produced by mega-dairies with diseased cattle a la Kraft Foods.

              For milk and cream: seek out a local purveyor. A good place to start is the Eat Well Guide.

              eatwellguide.org

              1. re: Morton the Mousse

                Thanks Morton, I'll ck out the site.

              2. re: HillJ

                Have you tried any of Ronnybrook's products? You can get them at Whole Foods in Edgewater and Ridgewood, and at the Fairway in Fort Lee.

                1. re: MaspethMaven

                  Thanks MM, I'll look for that brand next time.

                2. re: HillJ

                  I only buy organic milk products at Trader Joe's and they're the best I've tasted. I once bought some regular milk at a nearby market in a pinch and had to chuck it. Most organic milk (unlike TJ's) is ultra-pasteurized for long shelf life, which makes it taste weird, imo.

                  I'm in California, though, and TJ's dairy products may vary regionally. Also, we don't really have any small, local purveyors, so those aren't part of my selection process. Would love to have access to places like Ronnybrook or Butterworks Farm.

                  1. re: emily

                    Trader Joe's in Northern California has two house brands of organic milk. The non-homogenized "cream top" one comes from Straus in Marin County, so it's local.

                  2. re: HillJ

                    Amish Country Farms Organic Milk is fantastic. I drink the skim and use the whole for cooking. I'm in NYC so you should be able to get it in Jersey.

                3. re: HillJ

                  Robert Sinskey Pinot will change your mind.

                  http://www.robertsinskey.com/

                4. I'm with the vote for Wine. I had one once that was passable. I think because the market just isn't there to sustain it.

                  1. Your list suggests that you're seeking out the wrong organic purveyors. There is a whole world beyond the organic section at your local supermarket. I'm the first to admit that most "industrial organic" food tastes terrible. But there is nothing better than organic food grown by small, integrative farms and processed using artisinal methods. If you lived in SF, I'd challenge you to find:

                    1) a conventional peach that tastes better than the organic, Red Haven variety grown by Ram Das Orchards.
                    2) A nut butter that tastes better than Living Tree Communities organic almond butter.
                    3) A loaf of bread that tastes better than Acme's organic Pain au Levain
                    4) The best potato chips are made from scratch and fried to order. Bagged chips are mostly "eh" salt bombs.
                    5) I just did a comprehensive tasting of EVOO in Napa Valley and the clear winner was Round Pond, a small grower that, though not certified organic, uses organic methods. Most Italian EVOO, though not certified, is grown and manufactured using organic methods.

                    This is not to say that all organic peaches taste better than all conventionally grown peaches. The categories "organic" and "conventional" are so large in scope, and there is such a range of quality and variety of products within each category, that any such generalization would be patently absurd.

                    Bottom line: high end products made using organic/artisinal/slow-food methods, regardless of certification, tend to taste better than those cranked out by a machine. It seems obvious to me that when a producer prioritizes quality above all else that the end result will be superior.

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: Morton the Mousse

                      I tend to disagree (at least partially)

                      I prefer locally grown to organic ... 10 out of 10 times.

                      1. re: ipsedixit

                        maybe i am naive and uninformed....but if I go to my local farmers market and buy from a small farmer, aren't his fruits and veggies "organic" without going through the certificaton process? Or not?

                        I usually just buy local - I live in southeastern PA and buy from local (usually lancaster area or jersey) farms.

                        1. re: DanielleM

                          No, not necessarily.

                          Farmers market and/or local does not equal "organic" (whatever that term may mean)

                          1. re: DanielleM

                            Organic is a very widely and sometimes incorrectly used term. Being certified is just an identifing process by which we can shop, however true organic foods as descibed by the Organic trade Asc is as follows:
                            Organic production is based on a system of farming that maintains and replenishes soil fertility without the use of toxic and persistent pesticides and fertilizers. Organically produced foods also must be produced without the use of antibiotics, synthetic hormones, genetic engineering and other excluded practices, sewage sludge, or irradiation. Cloning animals or using their products would be considered inconsistent with organic practices. Organic foods are minimally processed without artificial ingredients, preservatives, or irradiation to maintain the integrity of the food.

                            the whole article is like several pages long but this is the basic.

                          2. re: ipsedixit

                            "I prefer locally grown to organic"

                            You state that as if it's an either/or question.

                            I prefer locally grown to organic produce from a foreign country. But the best local farmers use organic methodology, even if they eschew certification.

                        2. Wow. I think organic fruit routinely tastes sooo much better than conventional. I HATE (cannot stress this enough) the frighteningly large, earily "perfect" conventional peaches and nectarines at my grocery store. They seem to come in two varietie (both inedible): rock hard or mealy. Bleck. As for organic peanut butter-- I don't know that I've had it. But Smuckers All Natural w/o sugar is the best stuff on earth. Totally agree on the organic wine, though. And I have to say the all-natural (not sure if they're organic) graham crackers they carry at my Whole Foods are yucky.

                          1. Not to mention that certain fruits should NEVER be consumed unless they're organic. These include strawberries, raspberries, blackberries - they're like sponges and just soak up all those nasty pesticides. Grapes, too, are best not eaten if they're conventionally grown.

                            Re peanut butter, I read somewhere that conventional peanuts are REALLY full of pesticides, so best to buy organic peanuts and peanut butter.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: olivergail

                              How can PB be full of pesticides? Don't peanuts grown underground or is the ground that saturated with chemicals?

                              1. re: Procrastibaker

                                I don't know about peanuts particularly but yes, the ground can be saturated with pesticides - pesticides and water create run off that has to go through the ground (and then into lakes and ponds and gulfs, but that's another issue).

                            2. I've been very disappointed by most organic beers.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: brentk

                                haven't had too many organic beers, but wolaver's, which is the organic half of otter creek brewery from VT, makes AMAZING beer. simply one of the best beers (organic or not) i've ever had.

                                1. re: brentk

                                  it's all about st.peters and scarecrow organic beers. the st. peters is a nut brown ale that makes new castle taste like swill. scarecrow is a lager. both are on the pricey side, about $3.50 for a quart bottle.

                                  cheers

                                2. Produce (including fruit), in my experience, on average, ranked by flavor:

                                  1. organic at farmers market
                                  2. conventional at farmers market
                                  3. conventional at independent supermarket
                                  4. organic at indpendent supermarket
                                  5. conventional at chain supermarket
                                  6. organic at chain supermarket

                                  Peanut butter: all I've tried were inferior to my longtime favorite Adams (Smuckers) salted crunchy (Adams own organic was also inferior), but Trader Joe's organic salted crunchy is better.

                                  Bread: my favorite (Acme in Berkeley) is organic, but it was my favorite for many years before it switched entirely to organic flour. My second-favorite bread (Vital Vittles) was always organic, but I think what makes it taste so good is that they grind their own flour fresh daily.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                    Your produce rankings are spot on and explain why so many people have negative experiences with organics.

                                  2. I picked up a dozen eggs labeled "organic" not long ago and had to throw out 10 of them. Just didn't taste like eggs.

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: Bill on Capitol Hill

                                      the problem I had was the yolk was so pale as to be almost be white. I know it's just a matter of feed but they didn't taste right. But that's just one producer.

                                      1. re: chaddict

                                        You should avoid any eggs that advertise vegetarian feed, organic or not. Chickens are omniverous, and they need insects in their diet to produce beautiful, bright gold yolks.

                                        1. re: Morton the Mousse

                                          Yup, it's the bugs that make eggs taste good! A chicken that can't peck up bugs can't make eggs worth a darn. Just think of those free-range, outdoor-roaming chickens as pest removers with a delicious byproduct!

                                          Anne

                                    2. I wonder if people not liking the dairy organics are looking for what they are accustomed to in flavor. My mom used to love the eggs we got fresh from the chicken 30 years ago, but when she recently tried organic farmer eggs, found them too strong (or weird or something...too eggy)

                                      That TJs PB is salty and very roasty. I could totally get used to that... : )

                                      6 Replies
                                      1. re: pitu

                                        We raise eggs - not certified organic, but they're free ranging (so free they visit the neighbours) and fed only grain and table scraps. There is no question at all that they taste totally different from supermarket eggs. Much much eggier. We love that, but I can imagine that someone who is used to the (no) taste of ordinary eggs could find it too strong. The real flavours of genuine foods can come as a surprise when you haven't had them before.

                                        1. re: Nyleve

                                          i love organic eggs and dairy - wish they were more affordable!

                                          1. re: welle

                                            Free range, organic farmers market eggs are highly affordable. A two-or three egg omelette can be the main part of a meal in my household. At $3.60 a dozen, that's 60 to 90 cents. You can't get a quarter-pounder for that. Of course, it's a lot cheaper to buy from the supermarket, but then you get what you pay for.

                                            1. re: Steve

                                              I'm not talking about affordability as compared to other products but as compared to conventional eggs. Since the main part of my household HAS to be red meat, it's out of question that I substitute my dinners with eggs. Then eggs become an additional cost, not cheaper alternative. It's 3-4 times difference - which is a high premium compared to most organics that run around 100%premium.

                                              1. re: welle

                                                Just keep in mind that much of the "cheaper" food you buy at the grocery store is highly subsidized. Wouldn't you rather support your local economy? Instead you'd rather have eggs from 3,000 miles away that are $1 cheaper? I definitely vote local eggs... here in NC they are divine.

                                                1. re: thbunny

                                                  AFAIK, most dairy and eggs (even conventional) don't travel too long. Where I buy in Queens, they come either from NJ or Long Island. Here, conventional eggs are usually 3-4 times cheaper than organic. It's not just a buck difference. And re: subsidies, I've already paid for them with my taxes, so my organic eggs are getting even more expensive! anyway, I'm not arguing the virtues of organic eggs, I'm just saying if they were more affordable I would've consumed more of them.

                                      2. Chocolate! It was so disappointing, because I expected it to be better than conventional. Tried Green & Blacks, Dagoba and various bars from Whole Foods with endangered animals on the labels. AWFUL. They tasted bitter, oily, with no nuance, mouthfeel and had the flavor of bark.

                                        I agree with olive oil. Have yet to find a great organic one.

                                        Love organic bananas, apples, tomatoes and meat products. So much cleaner tasting, especially the meat. Having grassfed freerange Icelandic lamb as we speak. :)

                                        13 Replies
                                        1. re: Kishari

                                          Don't care for the organic chocolate that I've tried either. G&Bs and Dagoba included. As a reference point, my preferred chocolate for straight eating right now is Chocovic and Cote d'Or.

                                          I just sampled some organic balsamic vinegar made in CA and it was not very good...too thin and acidic.

                                          1. re: Carb Lover

                                            I think the only real balsamic made in California so far is Paul Bertolli's, which is not available commercially. It takes years for the first batch to get through the solera process, and most places don't even bother, they just concoct an imitation from vinegar, reduced must, and whatever.

                                            1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                              What I tried may not be "real" balsamic, but it didn't taste as good as non-organic balsamic of that class.

                                            2. re: Carb Lover

                                              My current favorites are Michel Cluizel Madagascar, and Scharffen Berger, both about 60%. I think both Valhrona and Callebaut make an organic dark chocolate but I'm afraid to try them straight!

                                              1. re: Carb Lover

                                                Alter Eco makes a great fair trade organic chocolate. I've tried a lot of fair trade organic chocolates, and Alter Eco is very different than the standards you have named.

                                                It is very smooth with a rich taste.

                                              2. re: Kishari

                                                Olive Oil: Try Silver Leaf. Its my favourite Olive Oil and it happens to be Organically grown. It is greek from Mt. Tagetos (spelling?).

                                                1. re: Kishari

                                                  Have you tried McEvoy's olive oil (certified organic)? I find it compares well to other Tuscan-style oils, and am particularly fond of their "nuovo" (the year's new pressing). I believe the next batch comes on the market in November; check their website - you can order it online.

                                                  www.mcevoyranch.com

                                                  1. re: Striver

                                                    Actually, I have tried McEvoys. It's just okay. Not brilliant. Maybe I'll try a fresh pressing and see if I change my mind, but I'm not crazy about Tuscan-style Californian oils to begin with...I prefer buttery fruity oils which tend to be Spanish, French and Greek. Even Moroccan oils. I recently tried a San Giulano organic which had a light grassy taste (similar to their conventional), but it just tasted...flat. Eh.

                                                  2. re: Kishari

                                                    Organic chocolate is awful, just awful.

                                                    1. re: fnarf

                                                      I've had some good organic chocolate. Can't remember the brands as I wasn't paying attention to which were organic or not.

                                                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                        I've tried a bunch, and I like Green & Black dark chocolate. (This from a died-in-the-wool Belgian chocolate snob.) I'm a big fan of the G&B Maya (orange) dark chocolate.

                                                        Anne

                                                        1. re: AnneInMpls

                                                          Sjaak's in Eureka, Ca. makes great organic chocolate bars. Not sure how widely distributed they are, but they're definitely worth seeking out.

                                                    2. re: Kishari

                                                      Colavita's organic olive oil is interchangeable w/ their non- organic olive oil. Might even be the same price.

                                                    3. I have to disagree on all except for olive oil (have not tried any organic ones). Natural Peanut butter made of organic peanuts in my healthfood store tastes better than any PB I've had. I had pretty good organic wine from Oregon (do not recall the name). Le Pain Quotidien (chain) makes the best breads in NYC, IMO. Fruits are hit or miss, but not worse than conventional ones.

                                                      1. Are you kidding? I no longer eat non-organic fruit cause I just don't want to ingest pesticides. Stone fruit such as peaches and nectarines are very heavily sprayed so if you prefer their taste to organic, that's your decision but in my view, there's no contest here.

                                                        In my not so humble opinion, the rest of the OP's list is kind of silly. Do you really prefer bread that was baked with preservatives and stuffed in a little plastic bag and 'stamped consume by (date)' rather than by a small local bakery that uses organic ingredients that are actually good for you?

                                                        I could list other examples with peanut butter and the like but I believe you might get my drift. Preservatives and pesticides are cumulative when ingested. A good organic apple or pear always tastes better than one that's been sprayed to keep the bugs away.

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: Flynn1

                                                          definate agreement here. I had to switch to organic for health reasons over 5 years ago and have no really bad experiances since. Those that do not like the chocolate or peanut butter are missing the oils and extra sugars and salts that are added. I would say the same about the "factory bread" also. Look at the label and see how much sugar and salt are added. It is crazy.

                                                        2. organic fruits and veggies all taste better and more "like" themselves, in my experience. organic onions will make you cry more, yeah, but organic veggies & fruits are grown in healthy soil so they are healthier organisms! as a big organics backer & small organic business owner, I can definately say that there are crappy "manufactured" organic products out there, though. A lot of times it's just because someone who doesn't really know what they're doing tries to. . . bake organic bread & tortillas, let's say. & i don't really bother with prepackaged organic "snack foods", they're still junk food-- adding organic microwave popcorn to the yucky list. If you give a really good baker good organic flour, she's going to turn out exceptional bread. she'll turn out good bread using conventional flour, too, but generally fresh organic ingredients are the key to a superior product*.

                                                          * this might change with sprawl-mart getting its paws in, i suspect

                                                          1. I think the contest is between small local producer vs large factory farming, rather than between organic vs nonorganic. I will always choose food that is locally grown by someone who gives a sh*t over organic products that have grown on large commercial farms and shipped halfway across the world. We are lucky enough to live in a semi-rural area with an excellent farmers market as well as direct access to individual producers of meat and vegetables. Are they all totally organic? Most likely not. But I'd be willing to bet that a small farmer who raises a few acres of beans or cabbage is more likely to try to avoid pesticides - or use as little as possible. Many of these are mixed farms: a few cows, a few pigs, a flock of chickens, etc. They use their composted manure to fertilize the fields and harvest by hand when the crops are done. It's not a great way to make a living - trust me I know these folks. But most of the ones I know care enormously about being good stewards of their land, and so try to avoid damaging the environment - after all, they'll be leaving it to their kids.

                                                            I'll be buying Wal-Mart organic lettuce when hell freezes over. There may not be any pesticide residue on it, but what about all the fuel that was used to truck it across the country? And how much do they pay their farm workers? Sorry, I'm getting political here, aren't I? But frankly I don't think good health is something that can be guaranteed by just choosing organic ketchup over regular - it's a more global issue, and therefore much much more complex. Oh, and difficult.

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: Nyleve

                                                              complex, difficult, yes: I worry about walmart putting the farmers who supply our company off of their land. Going to the effort of getting their 2-acre farm certified organic shows that the farmers have a serious, documented commitment to local and global ecology, not just abstaining from toxic pesticides, sewage sludge fertilizers, etc, well, MOST of the time, when we feel like it. That is supposed to be the gaurantee consumers have when they buy organic products. Of course there are mass-produced organic foods, & whole paycheck is in many ways as bad as walmart as far as their distribution system is concerned. Of course it helps when you know the farmer who planted your romaine, and there are scads of facets to the sustainability issue. That's probably for a different thread. PS I work at a sustainable/organic farmer's market SO THAT I can get my company locally grown organic produce direct from the farmers, and can support biodiversity farms/transitional farms in the "locally grown," seasonal, part of our menu. So "trust me I know these folks" too :)

                                                            2. OK, my new post about organic PB is covered up in the collapsed postings. So I'm wondering how PB can be full of pesticides? Don't peanuts grow underground? Is the ground that saturated with pesticides or are they treated after harvest?

                                                              4 Replies
                                                              1. re: Procrastibaker

                                                                they inject it into the soil.

                                                                1. re: Procrastibaker

                                                                  http://ipm.ncsu.edu/wildlife/peanuts_...
                                                                  http://www.ipminstitute.org/Articles/...

                                                                  1. re: Procrastibaker

                                                                    Yes, the fact that they're grown underground and the soil is saturated with years of pesticide use is part of the problem. Another problem is the environment that peanuts are grown in. In dry conditions all is fine. When peanuts are grown in very wet conditions, however, they are prone to developing a certain fungus that can turn into a poisonous substance called "aflatoxin," which is said to be carcinogenic. A brief and to-the-point article about peanut farming can be found at:
                                                                    http://www.rwood.com/Articles/Peanuts...

                                                                    1. re: olivergail

                                                                      Organic Milk. Most organic milk is not what milk tastes like.
                                                                      Most is ulta-pasturized which gives it a "cooked" taste. Now, you may just be used to that flavor. That's fine if you like that.
                                                                      I just came back from the supermarket and in the entire case of about 15 brands and sizes of organic milk there was only one type that was regular pasturized organic.
                                                                      If you're regularly drinking the ulra-pasturized, you're now used to something further away from real food and more processed. Your palate is also getting used to accepting processed flavors.
                                                                      Regular milk isn't necessarily an acceptable alternative because of hormones and anti-biotics but ultra-pasturized organic milk tastes awful.

                                                                  2. Mayonnaise - I've been consuming Best Foods Mayo my entire life that it's the standard to which all else is evaluated. Switched over to:

                                                                    Organic - Omega 3 - Mayo - with Flax Oil (Expeller Pressed Oil)

                                                                    for health reasons and it doesn't taste as good (the same) as BF's. But should it when the ingredients are different?

                                                                    1. .... I am surprised to see so many posts suggesting that organic means pesticide-free. Not true. Organic farmers consistently spray crops with Bacillus thurengiensis (Bt), an aerobic endospore-forming soil-dwelling bacterium in the same family as B. anthracis (anthrax) and B. cereus (another soil bacteria that causes food poisoning). Bt secretes a toxin that is lethal in insect guts, but has no effect on humans. Others, like pyrethrins (an isolate of the crysanthemum plant) can have low toxicity in animals and humans too.

                                                                      Don't forget that natural compounds are chemicals too, though synthesized in Nature's lab, not in ours. Wash everything well before you eat it, organic or not.

                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                      1. re: amandine

                                                                        The list of so-called natural pesticides allowed organic growers is a lot longer than amandine notes. Insecticidal soaps are fairly common but definitely need to be washed off. They are often potassium soaps that stink. Note that the first soaps were the result of fat dripping into a fire and reacting with potassium hydroxide in wood ashes.

                                                                        My bigger concern is the sulphur and copper fungicides permitted under organic rules. Some synthetic fungicides such as Daconil break down quickly in the presence of light and air to simple common compounds. The copper builds up and sticks around permanently while the sulphur oxidizes quite slowly. I find it hard to believe that the quantities of persistent "natural" fungicides used on organic factory farms represent any great advantage over synthetic fungicides that break down quickly. I do not favor the use of persistent fungicides, natural or synthetic, over synthetic fungicides that break down quickly.

                                                                      2. I feel bad saying this, but Beef. I've tried good grass-fed organic beef (Cabana Las Lilas in BA, and the better stuff at Whole Foods), and I'm a sucker for the corn-fed stuff. Go figure.

                                                                        1. Good organic wine *is* available. In fact, there is a LOT of organic wine available, though much of it isn't labelled as such. Chances are you've had some without knowing it - especially if you drink French wine.

                                                                          I just hosted an organic wine tasting and we were thrilled with the 6 wines we tasted. I'll post details on the wine board (someday soon). For now, check out these sites for info on good organic and biodynamic wine:

                                                                          http://www.prospectwine.com/OrganicWi...

                                                                          http://www.organicwinejournal.com/ind...

                                                                          http://www.prospectwine.com/OrganicWi...

                                                                          Try some - you'll be pleasantly surprised!

                                                                          Anne

                                                                          4 Replies
                                                                          1. re: AnneInMpls

                                                                            "... much of it isn't labelled as such ..."

                                                                            Are you saying here are a lot of organic wines are not labeled as such, or that there are a lot of wines that could be organic if the winery went to the trouble of having them certified?

                                                                            1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                              Both, really.

                                                                              Some wineries make wine from organic grapes and other organic ingredients, but don't label their wine as organic. In the US, they can't, if they add sulfites - unlike the rest of the world, US wine can't be labelled as organic if sulfites are added. But even in Europe, wineries don't always label their wine as organic, even if they could. Some don't see it as an issue - they make wine the way their ancestors have always make wine, so what's the big deal?

                                                                              In Europe, M. Chapoutier (Cotes du Rhone) is one example, but there are lots of others (from Arbanta and Albet i Noya to Zind-Humbrecht). In the US, look at Cline 'Ancient Vines', Fetzer, Frey, Frog's Leap, and many more (not to mention the organically-labelled Benziger, Bonterra, Patianna, and Yorkville). In the rest of the world, check out Altos Las Hormigas, Penfolds, and many New Zealand wines.

                                                                              And, frankly, it seems that some wineries don't want the "stigma" of being organic - the OP isn't alone in an attitude of scorn about organic wines (perhaps based on one bad wine tried years ago).

                                                                              I've had one no-added-sulfite wine: Coturri Red. I really liked it - it was gutsy and rugged, but it wasn't everyone's cup of tea. Sadly, our local wine shops won't carry Coturri wines anymore, because they've had bad luck with more than the average number of bottles going bad. Those sulfites are preservatives, after all. And even Coturri recommends that you don't cellar their wines for very long (mere months for the whites, and not much longer for the reds).

                                                                              In summary, finding an organic wine isn't so simple, so check with good wine store (or do weeks of web searching, like me :-).

                                                                              Anne

                                                                            2. re: AnneInMpls

                                                                              Well...I've experienced two different organic wines...those with sulfites added prior to fermentation, and those with no sulfites added. Both will claim to use sustainably raised grapes, but those wines w/o sulfites taste like cough syrup. Ostensibly, those that don't use sulfites have to ferment there wines at high temps to protect against bad bugs that would otherwise turn their wine to vinegar--resulting in a 'eu d' roubitussen' taste. The addition of sulfites allows the wine maker to control fermentaion temps that play a role in its final quality...ya sulfite free wine pretty much tastes like ass.

                                                                              1. re: orangeplow

                                                                                I've had no-sulfites-added wines that were excellent.

                                                                                When a wine's main claims to fame are that it's organic and has no added sulfites, it usually sucks.

                                                                            3. I disagree with every thing you have listed. I find that organic version of everything on your list tastes better than conventional (with the exception of the wine - there is no way anyone could make such a statement about wine - some organics may taste better than some conventionals, and vice versa, but no global statement will work for wine...

                                                                              peanut butter is sort of an aquired taste... and don't be grossed out by the oil separation. just stir it back in... the 365 brand at whole foods is delicious. it tastes like peanuts. what else do you want?

                                                                              Recommended Organic Dairy brand: Organic Valley - I recommend trying to find grass-fed dairy though - it's hard to find, but ask around. Cows aren't by nature grain/corn eaters. They are grass eaters by nature. I get my beef at my local farmers market, all grass fed. Look for pasture raised pork and chicken too. I think all this stuff tastes better than conventional stuff found at the grocery store. Organic beef and dairy still comes from grain-fed cattle...

                                                                              Someone else already mentioned this, but shopping for local goods at your farmers market is very important. Many vendors are organic but don't pay for USDA certification. Just ask the vendor. Even conventional goods there are much better than the ones at the supermarket... They are much much fresher, and excess fossil fuels haven't been burned to get the foods there like they are to get foods to your supermarket.

                                                                              Finally, when looking for organic produce, if it's the pesticides that worry you for personal health reasons, there are certain fruits and veggies that aren't worth spending extra on organic. Bananas, oranges, and the like (fruits or veggies that you peel or have a protective outer layer that you don't eat) are fine for the most part to buy conventional. The pesticides have a tough time penetrating that outer layer. Leafy veggies like spinach you should buy organic. The pesticides latch right on to the surface that you are eating. So you can just sort of use common sense when shopping. If you eat the outside of the fruit/veggie, but organic; if not, conventional is fine.

                                                                              If you're thinking of buying organic for health reasons in addition to environmental reasons, the above won't apply to you. Those reasons include all the damage the chemical pesticides and fertilizers do to the environment, mostly through runoff. Research the dead zone in the gulf of mexico for a good example.

                                                                              alright... enough rambling...

                                                                              8 Replies
                                                                              1. re: mdatwood13

                                                                                Great post. I think you have to compare apples to apples so to speak.;-) Comparing fast moving conventional apples to organic apples in a store where organics don't move isn't the same as comparing both off the tree. And, if you're used to Jif peanut butter, any all natural, whether it's organic or not, will not taste the same. But it's not the "organic" that makes it taste different, it's the "all natural." I grew up on Jif, didn't like the all natural at first but now Jif gives my mouth an oily feeling coat.

                                                                                1. re: chowser

                                                                                  Thanks. I also meant to add that with snack foods like chips and crackers, I don't necessary focus on organic there. I think it's more important to read the ingredients and don't buy anything with High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) or Trans Fats (Partially Hydrogenated _____ Oil) or other corn-derived sweeteners like citric acid and other stuff you can't pronounce. Take your time - read labels - use common sense. If the ingredient list is 20 lines long and you can't pronounce half the stuff on there, you probably shouldn't eat it.

                                                                                  Kettle Chips are the best potato chips i've ever had. Almost all their flavors are delicious (Cheddar Beer, Sea Salt and Vinegar, Honey Dijon, and Yogurt and Green Onion are my favorites). They aren't organic (they do have organic, but most flavors aren't), but they don't use bad ingredients.

                                                                                  Oh, and a good organic bread brand = Rudy's Organic. I look for non-organic breads without bad ingredients, but I have a really hard time finding them. Even Pepperidge Farm and Nature's Own (brands you'd think would be okay) have HFCS.

                                                                                  Alright... again... done rambling...

                                                                                  1. re: chowser

                                                                                    Jif includes sugar for sweetness and industrial trans fats to prevent separation (which also gives a waxy mouthfeel compared with natural peanut butter).

                                                                                    You could make an all-natural version of Jif by adding a "natural" sweetener (however you might define that) and coconut oil.

                                                                                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                      That's why I stopped buying Jif. I actually prefer the all natural pb now. But my son is particular. I've tried the Whole Kids pb but he doesn't like that (or any other ones I've bought). I'll give your suggestion a try--thanks.

                                                                                  2. re: mdatwood13

                                                                                    Actually I've read from several sources that bananas and oranges are a must to get organic. Pesticides get thru all those pores of orange peel. who knew.

                                                                                    1. re: welle

                                                                                      I buy both organic and non-organic oranges at the farmers market (sometimes from the same vendors), and which is best varies over the season. (Which is why I buy both.)

                                                                                      1. re: welle

                                                                                        I've been reasearching this topic lately - that is, which foods are important to get organic, and which you can get away with buying as "conventional." For more information, see Consumer Reports (as reported on the Neddy's Palaver blog):

                                                                                        http://neddy.blogsome.com/2006/01/17/...

                                                                                        And the Environmental Working Group's list of pesticide-heavy and pesticide-light food:

                                                                                        http://www.foodnews.org/pdf/walletgui...

                                                                                        If that link doesn't work, try the version at Stonyfields:
                                                                                        http://www.stonyfield.com/Organic/EWG...
                                                                                        Or this link:
                                                                                        http://www.helpguide.org/life/organic...

                                                                                        Anne

                                                                                        1. re: AnneInMpls

                                                                                          The topic at hand is what tastes better. The lab report doesn't help in figuring that out.

                                                                                    2. My absolute favorite chips and pretzels are organic.

                                                                                      Barbara's yogurt and green onion chips are to die for.

                                                                                      Bearito's cheese puffs kick Cheetos in the behind, and have a third less calories to boot.

                                                                                      Newman's own organic round pretzels are excellent.

                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                      1. re: DanaB

                                                                                        I vote for all Newman's Own products, conventional and organic. I can vouch for Bearito's brand as well. Their blue corn taco shells are good. Garden of Eatin' is good too.

                                                                                      2. The most important factor for taste is freshness. Most supermarket organic produce was grown in Chile or someplace about two weeks ago. There's no way it can taste as good as even flash-frozen stuff in the freezers. A lot of conventional produce is pretty bad, too, if it's not FRESH.

                                                                                        Highly processed foods are usually garbage whether conventional or "organic". That goes for just about all of your boxes, bags, bottles and jars of whatever. If you use FRESH ingredients and make your own food, it'll taste good. Obviously some things you can't make at home, like butter. Your best bet is to buy more expensive, local, small-producer or artisanal products.

                                                                                        Be aware that "organic" on the label doesn't mean anything anymore; the government now allows non-organic ingredients to be in the food without even being mentioned on the label. Same with "free range", which usually means a chicken that's hemmed in with ten thousand other chickens on an uncaged (filthy) floor, with a sometimes-open but unused hatch 100 yards away on the other end of the barn. It's all marketing, and the marketers and the major industrial producers own the FDA lock, stock and barrel. Your "organic" beef has probably been struggling with infections and digestive problems its whole life, standing up to its tits in its own excrement. Your supermarket organic produce is being made by some of the largest industrial food corporations in the world.

                                                                                        If you want good food, get it FRESH, and get it from a local producer or someone who follows true organic procedures (not necessarily labeled as such).

                                                                                        5 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: fnarf

                                                                                          Most factory-farmed supermarket produce isn't very good even if it was picked yesterday. I always laugh at the supermarket ads making a big deal about "fresh," as if that made up for picking unripe and growing hybrids bred for packing, shipping, and shelf life rather than flavor.

                                                                                          The aforementioned celery is a good example: the factory-farmed stuff is all pumped up from fertilizers and whatnot, tastes like water with a hint of celery. If you're used to that, the intense flavor of the real thing can be a shock.

                                                                                          1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                            This is true.

                                                                                            My current #1 beef is with tomatoes "on the vine". Yes, they're on the vine; you can see it right there. And they are spectacularly red. But they can be hurled against the wall without damage, and they taste exactly like the orange tennis balls over in the ordinary tomato pile, i.e., nothing at all. You get a little whiff of the stem aroma, which is just enough to make you briefly REMEMBER tomato flavor, but you don't get to actually experience it.

                                                                                            I was very pleased to finally see big misshapen weird-looking heirloom tomatoes in the supermarket this summer. So delicious! All gone now, of course, but summer was nice.

                                                                                            You California folks don't know how tragic more northerly produce sections get in the cold months!

                                                                                            1. re: fnarf

                                                                                              Here's my deep dark tomato secret. During the off season (10 months of the year, up here in Ontario) if I am desperate for a "fresh" tomato I will buy either those small tomatoes - I think they're calling them "tomato bites" - at Costco (they're slightly bigger than a cherry tomato); or I'll buy plum tomatoes. The plums, for whatever reason, will continue to ripen while they sit around the kitchen. So I'll buy them while they're hard as a rock, and leave them for, like, a week or so. Eventually they do somehow or other ripen and develop something that resembles a tomato flavour. You have to be patient. But there is no other commercial winter tomato - including those infernally misleading on-the-vine-ones - that ever tastes like anything at all. Best of all - the plums are dirt cheap.

                                                                                              1. re: Nyleve

                                                                                                I can only imagine how difficult the "off season" must be in cold climates. Here in the Bay Area it's easy to talk about buying locally and seasonally (as well as organically). If we don't have tomatoes then we have asparagas or artichokes. It's actually fun to eat seasonally. But in other places, maybe not so fun.

                                                                                                1. re: Glencora

                                                                                                  I try not to whine. And I try to eat like a pioneer. This is only fun for about a month. Then I start feeling like flinging that freaking cabbage against the wall and having some imported asparagus. However, it's only October and I can still wander out to the garden and pick some arugula or hack down a stalk of kale. So I'm not too cranky yet. Give me two months. I'll be snarfing down the California romaine with the rest of you folks. Sigh.

                                                                                        2. Has anyone ever tried the peanut butter machine at Whole Foods? I dont think that you can get any better and I'm pretty sure its organic.

                                                                                          As for milk, my favorite brand is the Organic Cow, but sadly they discontinued it at Whole Foods.

                                                                                          1. Speaking of organics, just read that Anheuser-Busch is getting into organics: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article...

                                                                                            never had organic beer - is it any good? (not AB's but other smaller brewers' like the ones mentioned in the article)

                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: welle

                                                                                              I've had organic beer that was pretty good (can't remember the name of it, sorry; US microbrew), and I've had organic beer that was so awful it went straight down the drain and I brushed my teeth right afterwards. The best beer in the world is going to be horrible if it's been sitting on a warm shelf for three years.

                                                                                              1. re: fnarf

                                                                                                i replied to another post about this but not quite sure how this works. however, wolaver's beer (from middlebury, vt) is organic and absolutely fantastic. they make at least a half dozen different varieties and it has a fairly wide distribution so if you're looking for organic beer it's a great find. check it out! www.wolavers.com/

                                                                                            2. I'm not sure why the focus is on how a product that is grown w/ or w/o pesticides is more tasty. This seems like an illogial question. There are so many variables that affect, say fruit: soil type (mineral makeup) water quality, weather, harvesting care, etc. It seems fruitless (sorry) to talk about organic as a measure of taste and quality.

                                                                                              To compare organic peanut butter to regular--well, are they MADE the same? Most times if you buy organic peanut butter in a jar, it's going to have some oil, sugar, and salt added so it'll appeal to the kiddies in an "organic" household. The producer will go to lengths to match the taste and texure of the top selling conventional. If however, you grind your own PB in one of the machines at the health food store or co-op, that PB is going to taste different. It will taste like peanut paste, unsweetend and unsalted. Like peanuts taste.

                                                                                              To say that organic chips are too coarse, well, isn't that a function of maunfacture? It should have nothing to do with the fact that the corn was raised w/o chemicals, etc.

                                                                                              It seems to me posters are responding to "health food style" (whole unadulterated, non-manipulated) products rather than farming methods used to produce the raw materials.

                                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: toodie jane

                                                                                                The whole point of Chowhound is to find tasty food. If the organic versions of some foods taste better or worse, that's helpful information.

                                                                                                The reality is that whether something's organic or not is rarely per se a strong indicator of flavor one way or the other.

                                                                                                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                  ....my point is that the manufacture (handling) of a single given product is what tells the tale, not just the origin of the raw food.

                                                                                                  I'll agree that naming brands is more helpful than generalizations, even though there's going to be regional differences with the most perishable items. We all like tips!

                                                                                                  I'll refer to Morton's more eloquent reasoning in his forth post down, first and last paragraphs.

                                                                                                  1. re: toodie jane

                                                                                                    Quite true, that's why non-organic produce from a small local family farm purchased at a farmer's market is usually better than anything from a factory farm or chain supermarket.

                                                                                              2. wine, yes most definitely worse.

                                                                                                pasta!!! uggh. especially rice "pasta". if you are allergic to wheat, i imagine it's just better to do without traditional italian-style pasta,certain asian styles allow for chewiness.

                                                                                                organic mayo, ketchup, condiments in general.

                                                                                                organic cheese does not seem to have developed.

                                                                                                organic coffee, organic anything that has been produced for a long time and where the conventional form is best as artisanal. i have not had good organic chocolate for example.

                                                                                                5 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: fara

                                                                                                  I've been buying an organic (dried) pasta by Bionaturae quite often lately. It's really fabulous; perfect texture and flavor and comes in some slightly less common shapes. It's made from semolina, though, not rice. Just checked out the pasta part of their website:

                                                                                                  http://bionaturae.com/pasta.html

                                                                                                  And I've had some excellent organic ketchup. And cheeses.

                                                                                                  1. re: MollyGee

                                                                                                    which cheeses? would love to try some.

                                                                                                    1. re: fara

                                                                                                      Most artisanal cheeses are organic or naturally produced.

                                                                                                      In CA, check out cowgirl creamery cheeses, for instance:

                                                                                                      http://www.cowgirlcreamery.com/

                                                                                                      1. re: DanaB

                                                                                                        I'm not sure what "naturally produced" would mean with regard to cheese beyond artisanal rather than industrial.

                                                                                                        Most artisal cheeses are not organic.

                                                                                                      2. re: fara

                                                                                                        Hm. Well, I guess I'm confusing "artisinal" w/ organic. I've always loved the cheeses by the folks at Cypress Grove here in northern CA, but I've looked at their web site and I guess they aren't officially organic. Love their goat cheddar and the goat gouda (midnight moon, I think), though.

                                                                                                        Info:

                                                                                                        http://www.cypressgrovechevre.com/com...

                                                                                                  2. Okay, so when I first read and replied to the OP I admitted my displeasure for organic dairy products..and in the time that this OP has grown off the charts!! I've taken a leap of faith and tried two of the milk brands suggested..still not a fan..I'd rather drink rice milk...but thanks for opening my eyes to the differences and some very worthwhile tips about organic shopping in general. What a wealth of knowledge here!

                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                    1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                      HillJ,
                                                                                                      If you tried Ronybrook Farms milk and didn't like it, then just like those Jiff PB lovers you must've gotten used to bad milk. Ronybrook Farms milk is not ultra-pasteurized and not homogenized: http://www.ronnybrook.com/site_new/be...
                                                                                                      IMO, it is the most real-milk-tasting milk I've had in the US.

                                                                                                      Technically, their milk is not organic, because, like they say, they give their cows antibiotics when they get sick. But it's hormone-free, I believe.

                                                                                                    2. I typically do not eat anything organic( dont believe in the organic movement, and I dont wish to pay more for the same product), but occasionally if an organic version of a product I need is on sale I try it out of curiosity.

                                                                                                      I have tried organic avocado's, organic romaine lettuce, and a few other vegetables(carrots, garlic, etc).

                                                                                                      The lettuce tasted the same as the non-organic version, the organic avocado's were flavorless, the organic garlic was terrible, the organic carrots were pretty good, and the organic green onions tasted the same as the non organic version I buy.

                                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: swsidejim

                                                                                                        Have you tried organic celery? I do try to buy organic when I can for other reasons, but I've found that there's a clear difference in terms of taste when it comes to celery. Organic celery tastes saltier and with more flavor. I've found that conventional celery (excluding farmer's market) tastes harsher.

                                                                                                        1. re: Miss Needle

                                                                                                          I have tried organic celery, but I typically do not eat celery raw( so I noticed no difference when cooking. It is typically part of the cajun trinity(onions, celery, green peppers), or part of a soup ingredient. So not typically worth the premium cost to me.

                                                                                                      2. I am eating an awful organic red delicious apple right now!

                                                                                                        5 Replies
                                                                                                        1. re: dzelepsky

                                                                                                          Yeah, it's May.

                                                                                                          1. re: chowser

                                                                                                            ... and it's also a "Red Delicious".

                                                                                                            One of the most ill-named food items.

                                                                                                            1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                                              Might be able to save it by topping it w/ imitation crab meat.

                                                                                                              1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                But only if it's organic imitation krab

                                                                                                                1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                                                  Might want to just go straight to spray cheese...organic of course!