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Feb 21, 2007 07:50 PM

Reasons for Organic

I read an article in a non food magazine recently which probed the issue of the ever increasing popularity of organic foods. Obviously, there are spinoff threads which could develop, like -what constitutes "organic"- and -what is the science of the health benefits of either?-
That however is not the point of this post.
I am just curious to know why you buy organic, how often, and what are the motivating factors in your decisions.

Are they......"concern for sustainable agriculture", "want to support the little guy", " it just feels right", "it's the cool thing to do" ?

Asking fellow chowhounds should provide me with truly interesting and provocative replies, which is why I am launching it here, not at the "water cooler" so to speak. Although I may do that too, just for fun!

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  1. I enjoy buying organic, even though there's a bit of a premium for a few reasons. First of all, I think it tastes better and fresher, though that may be a placebo effect because of the hgher price. But there's something nice about knowing that it was grown or raised naturally, and that you're really helping out local farmers who are trying to make their living and are often shut out by much larger farming operations.

    1. It's a very good question, formerlyfingers. I prefer to use organic produce whenever possible, but I am also a strong proponent of supporting local growers and of the slow food movement, sustainable agriculture, reducing greenhouse gases, etc. It's sometimes difficult to choose whether to buy organic romaine lettuce grown across the continent and shipped from California to Toronto, or romaine grown conventionally 60 miles away. I've noticed myself shifting more towards the locally-grown, of late.

      My reasons for buying organic when it's feasible include a bout with breast cancer five years ago. I feel somewhat empowered when I can control, in whatever minute way, a portion of what goes into my body and those of my children. Likewise, I use only natural cleaning products in my household. Small things, possible inconsequential, but I do think that every little bit helps.

      We are fortunate in Toronto that our supermarket signage indicates the country of origin of the produce being sold, and usually promotes an item that is grown in our home province. This allows me to choose to avoid produce grown in certain countries. I don't mind going through the winter without eating peaches and plums.

      So, it's kind of tough to answer your question. On one hand, I buy organic produce rather than conventional when it's not home-grown, but I tend to purchase locally-grown produce in season whether it's organic or conventional.

      1 Reply
      1. re: FlavoursGal

        I do the same. I also choose organics when the produce is high in pesticides but don't bother if it's not.

      2. It depends on what you mean is's BIG business these days and unless you are buying locally, chances are you are not supporting any small local farmer/grower.

        The book Omivore's Dilemma is a good read on this subject. IF you really care where your food dollar goes, it is a must read.

        1. Much the same as FalvoursGal, I buy organic, but tend to choose food that is local and fresh but not organic over food that is organic but comes from a huge agribusiness operation thousands of miles away.

          There is a short list out there of the ten crops one should always choose organic - foods that tend to have the highest concentration of pesticides when not organic. I know potatoes and strawberries are on the list, can't remember what else exactly. I would encourage anyone to buy organic at all times on those items.

          For me, however, it is a taste issue foremost, a economic issue second. and matter of health and ecology third. Local, organic food is usually the tastiest i can find, and I love developing relationships with the growers I meet at farmer's markets, some of whom have tried out new varieties of lettuce, etc, at my request.

          Economics seems like a funny reason at first, since organics usually sell at a premium, but it's my second reason because I want support local economies and local food security. Every penny I give to a local farmer is more likely to stay in my community, and also serves to strengthen the local food infrastructure.

          And, yes, I do also care that a lot of evidence suggests that organic food is healthier for me and for the land.

          Anyone interested in local food should check out - its a great resource where you can punch in your location and find out about farmers, ranchers, and food producers near you. Check out a farmers market, sign up for a CSA, get some local grass-fed beef. You will taste the difference.

          The great food and culture blog The Ethicurian is also worth a peek -

          1 Reply
          1. re: andytee

            see david joachim & rochelle davis' book "Fresh Choices" for more on the "dirty dozen" or "dirty ten" list.

            the "dirtiest" crops are a good place to start eating sustainably but it is a step that usually leads to an increased awareness of food systems-- you end up eating organic broccoli not because it is one of the most tainted food crops, but because it is one of your region's staple organic crops, et al

            also you see impacts far beyond your immediate area--women in florida are no longer giving birth to children with empty eye sockets, but there are still blue baby alerts in iowa.

          2. I buy organic food whenever possible. My reasons:

            Health - mine and others. I like to limit the pesticides I consume, especially for foods I eat all the time (like lemons and romaine lettuce). But equally important for me is the health of the agricultural workers who are growing and harvesting my food - I really hate the idea of what pesticides are doing to these hard-working people. It's especially horrible for pregnant workers. I don't want my food choices to be responsible for miscarriages and birth defects.

            Taste - Much of what I buy tastes better in an organic form, especially fruits and veggies. That could be because my store (a natural foods co-op) tries hard to get fresh and local food from small producers when possible.

            Love of Luxury - Yes, I admit that I enjoy being able to afford organic food. It's definitely more expensive, and I feel happy and lucky that I have the money to spend on it. But it makes me mad that the world is set up that way. If I were Global Empress, I'd make sure that poor people could afford just as much organic and healthy food as rich people.

            By the way, here's Consumer Report's list of the most important foods to eat organic.


            And here's Prevention Magazine's list of the 12 foods highest in pesticides: