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Buying Organic?

Why do you or don't choose to buy organic foods?

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  1. I dont, because the organic items I have tried either tasted the same as their non organic counterpart, or worse(avocados,garlic) than their non organic counterpart. It does not make sense to me to pay more for either the same quality, or worse.

    1. I buy organic 1% milk and eggs regularly. It has a noticable difference in taste to me. I don't buy organic meats & veggies simply for the cost factor, I would be way over budget. But if someone told me a specific cut of beef taste superior organic I would splurge once in a while.

      1. I buy certain things that are organic -- mostly because I taste a marked difference.

        I'm thinking of things like strawberries (those ones from California taste like strawberry flavored water); blueberries; pears; tomatoes; onions; garlic (I use about 1/2 the amount of organic garlic to regular store-bought); potatoes; most herbs; brussels sprouts. The things I don't taste much difference in: asparagus; apples (though I understand the pesticide issue and will buy organic if I can); zucchini; sweet potatoes; shallots; cucumbers. I'd like to buy all organic but it's not possible on my budget.

        1. We buy almost all our food organic - getting non organic only when we cannot find organic or the cost is so extreme as to make it not worth it. We have several reasons: we want to reduce our exposure to hormones in meat and milk; we believe in humane practices for animals intended for slaughter; we want to reduce our exposure to pesticides; and, most of all, we want to reduce the overall amount of pesticides used on the planet, impacting not only us.

          I cannot say that I find a huge difference in taste. A lot of what is better is probably more of a function of being fresh and local (we belong to a CSA and get a lot of local organic food). We do spend a lot more on our groceries and it is sometimes a stretch to do it (we live on one income). There are times I look at how cheap non-organic foods are and shake my head. But I don't buy them. Cheap food comes from a thoughtless factory approach. We pay abuse the land to force it into overproduction, process foods with a minimum of care and cleanliness and are then shocked at the regualar outbreaks of food borne illness.

          I'm not trying to get on a soapbox. Most of our family and friends don't choose organic and that's okay with us. We eat at their houses. We eat at restaurants knowing that the food comes from the system we try otherwise to avoid. But still we feel that our own choices in our own home do have an impact, even if it is small, on improving the health of the planet.

          10 Replies
          1. re: lupaglupa

            Well said lupaglupa!

            Joining a CSA is the best thing we've done both for our grocery budget and for the quality of food we are eating. Nothing tastes better than farm fresh eggs and vegetables and it is very cost-effective for us.
            I think there's a huge taste difference between organic milk and non-organic milk. We've been purchasing more organic meat than non-organic, but it is quite expensive and I'm sure many people would find our grocery budget pretty high.

            Reading "The Omnivore's Dilemma" was a turning point in our household for our food consumption. As far as I'm concerned, if I can live in NYC and still have access to a bevy of fresh, local produce via a CSA or the Farmer's Market then anyone in any part of the country can eat in a more sustainable way. That doesn't mean I don't still enjoy a banana from chile in the middle of winter here.
            However, I'm not so disillusioned as to think everyone can afford organic meat. Also, I think maybe there's still this sort of...hippy-esque aura surrounding the organic food and locavore movements that maybe turns off the average person or maybe even intimidates them. Maybe eating that way just seems like too much work for a lot of people?

            My husband and I just try to take a balanced approach to how we eat and where our food comes from.

            1. re: empecot

              Empecot - I didn't remember to mention milk, thanks for bringing it up. We get ours delivered (yes, in glass bottles in a little insulated box on our porch). It is very fresh and good and, obviously, local. Again I can't tell you how much of the improvement in the taste is the lack of pesticides or the freshness of getting it the day after milking. But it is wonderful.

              1. re: lupaglupa

                What a marvelous luxury. There is a dairy that does this around here, but not here, yet. They claim they are going to increase their delivery area this year, and I hope they do and include us.

            2. re: lupaglupa

              I agree with lupaglupa as well. About 80 percent of the food I buy is organic or locally produced using sustainable practices, and most of the meat is humanely raised. My choice is mostly about supporting forms of agriculture that are sustainable, more humane for animals and healthier for farm workers and the planet. I don't think there's much difference in taste, which less dependent on whether there's a label on it that says "organic" and is more dependent on how fresh the food is, whether it's in season locally, and whether it's a variety bred for mass-production and transport rather than taste.

              1. re: Ruth Lafler

                I also agree with lupaglupa. It's not a matter of taste (although most does taste much better), but a matter of health and not wanting to ingest chemicals, and supporting local farms and minimizing environmental impact.

                Additionally I prefer to eat non genetically modified fruits and veggies, because they always taste better. Just about the only way you'll get these is from a farmer's market or CSA, which again lessens environmental impact and supports local economy.

                1. re: irishnyc

                  I'm not sure what you mean by "non genetically modified fruits and veggies"...

                  1. re: xanadude

                    Almost every "conventional" fruit or vegetable available for purchase in the supermarket has been bred to survive shipping hundreds or thousands of miles, to have a more appealing color, to be able to be packed for shipping, to be resistant to RoundUp (chemical weed killer), etc.

                    Farmers markets will bring you a plethora of heirloom fruits and veg that taste REAL.

                    1. re: irishnyc

                      irishnyc, food producers been produce to survive shipping and mechanical harvest in a number of ways, and genetic modification is just one relatively new technique they use. hybridization and cross pollination are also used, and are not in an of themselves objectional practices. they are common in most farming and botany, but are used here to maximize shelf life and not taste, and thus, yuck. genetic modification refers specifically to alteration of a plant's DNA, usually by crossing it with DNA from another organism. One specific example that comes to mind is an experiment that involved the splicing of several molecules of fish DNA into tomatoes to make them cold-resistant. That said, not all modifications made to plants to breed produce that harvests, ships and sits well is genetic modification, and I wanted to make sure that was clear.

                    2. re: xanadude

                      re: genetically modified foods, or GMO's (genetically modified organisms): A lot of the conventional produce may have had genetic modification performed on it at some stage. This is a relatively new experiment that does not have data to back its safety and modified foods are not labeled as such so the consumer has no way to avoid them, short of buying organic. A little research (start at organicconsumers.org) will give more information about the history of this. Not all conventiona foods have been genetically modified, and the best approach to avoiding the ones that have is learning which crops this is common on. Corn and soy are big ones, and they end up in small amounts in most processed foods. Certain tomatoes, yellow crookneck squash, many others. Some foods, on the other hand, are not ever modified, simply because no one has put any GMO versions on the market yet. My research on which these are is a little old, so don't quote me, but I think carrots and apples are examples.

                      Anyhow, this is something that does not have good data to back up its safety for human consumption or in terms of plant interactions in the ecosystem, and for me it feels right to err on the side of caution. Probably almost everyone on this thread has eaten some GMO's at some point, but I avoid them when it is reasonably possible.

                2. re: lupaglupa

                  I'm with lugaglupa. We buy as much as we can organic and local when possible. We look for other indicators too, like dairy products that certify no RBGH, or farmers that follow organic practices but do not pay for certification.

                  A lot of what makes it work is changing the way we eat - we focus on local items in season, and get food from farmers via CSA's, farmers markets, and farm stands when we can. We are lucky to live in an area with a winter CSA of cellared root veggies and greenhouse greens, and with many options for local meat producers.

                  We aren't total localvores, though, we love some of the cheap stuff we get at Trader Joes, and we aren't too precious about it, no hard and fast rules and we will eat and graciously enjoy whatever our friends and families serve us, organic or frozen costco dinner.

                  But we do go the extra mile to seek it out, and think it is worth is for taste, health, the environment, and the economy.

                3. I buy organic as my budget permits and my level of guilt/health conciousness that day (hey, I'm keeepin' it real, folks). My taste buds changed immeasurably after I quit smoking a couple of years ago, so I am able to notice a significant difference between say, organic and regular milk. I also buy organic produce according to pesticide loads (i.e. apples have a high load so I buy organic; onions have a low load so I buy regular). You can check out the list in order of ranking on www.foodnews.org. I'm happy to see the trend towards organic. The more people that buy organic, the lower the cost for all.