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Nov 12, 2006 06:28 PM

When to Buy Organic?

So, I've tried to do my homework, but I'm still a little unclear. When do you think it's worth spending the extra money on organic items? It's not as if the organic produce in the tiny section of the produce department in my supermarket looks all that healthy. The items looks undersized, drab, wilted, and the quantities and selection are downright discouraging.

But what I need to know is stuff like carrots. Is an organic carrot going to be healthier than a conventionally grown carrot? I always figured that the leafy top part is where they applied the pesticides, so while I try to buy organic celery, I don't spend the extra money on organic carrots.

And free-range vs. air-dried vs. natural vs. smart chicken? (Do I want to eat a smarter chicken??) I've not been able to detect a single bit of difference in flavor between the "natural" whole chicken that costs me $4 compared to the air-dried, organic "smart" chicken which sells for $12. Or is it that I'm not eating the hormones? Or is it that the free-range chickens live a happier life before they are slaughtered that is supposed to induce me into paying 3 times the price?

It's just all so very, very confusing. Help me figure it out. What items do you buy that are organic, and why? And can you really taste the difference?

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  1. I read somewhere that the best chicken to buy is a Kosher chicken in terms of taste. I buy organic meats because of health reasons and not really for a big taste difference. I don't like to eat injected hormones, growth additives, pesticides, trans fats, or genetically modified foodstuffs, but that's me. Free range chickens are said to live a better life, as do some smaller dairies' cows that are producing organic milk. If animal cruelty is your thing then free range maybe worth it.
    I know people who eat organic strictly because they want to support local, organic farmers and others who are healthy and/or concerned with the animals they eat- which when writing this sounds a bit contradicting-, people like me who are cognicent of what they eat because of health reasons, and people who can taste a difference.
    There is a list somewhere of foods with high levels of pesticides that even a soak in bleach does not help. From what I remember: apples, peanuts, berries (especially strawberries), bell peppers and coffee beans. Pesticides leech into the soil so it's not just the tops getting saturated with pesticides.
    Both my supermarket and farmers market have good selections of organic foods but, it sounds like I am lucky. I do spend the extra money on organic, not strictly for the taste, but because its better for me. Most people I have over can't tell the difference and only know because they know me and how I eat, cook etc.
    Do what's best/worth it for you and buy what you like. Hope this helps.

    1. Here's a list that comes from Consumer Reports about when to buy organic:

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