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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.

                  1. I always try to buy organic dairy (milk, yogurt, sour cream), eggs and meat/poultry, because I want to support healthier agricultural and animal husbandry practices. It's more expensive, but I feel it is worth it (plus, the price better reflects the *actual* cost to society of producing these goods).

                    With veggies, I patronize my local farmers market when I can, and otherwise will opt to buy organic veggies over the alternative when my market has them in stock.

                    I will usually go for organic packaged goods when they are available as well.

                    1. I pretty much buy all of my meats/eggs organic. Most of my veggies are organic. However, I haven't found any organic sources of Asian veggies like Chinese broccoli and water spinach. My choices in order of preference are:

                      1. local and organic
                      2. organic (especially if it's a high pesticide load item)
                      3. conventional (if the store isn't carrying organic or the organic version looks really crummy)

                      All of these rules fly out the window when I eat out or eat at other people's homes.

                      And certain things do taste a lot better when it's organic, especially meats, eggs and celery. I've always disliked celery until I had organic.

                      1. I can't afford to buy organic all the time, but I heard a great report on when to buy organic vs. not. If you eat the skin, and especially if it's not smooth, organic food will really help reduce ingested pesticides. Peaches were high on the list to buy organic, as was broccoli as both have textures that "hold" pesticides. Bananas, were low on the list as you toss the skin. Apples, with smooth, easily washed skin were also low on the list. Makes sense to me! Hope it helps.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: scuzzo

                          Just a story that you might find interesting: At an organic gardening club meeting about 15 yr. ago the speaker was a woman known as "the banana lady". She grew at least 30 varieties (the tasting afterwards was fantastic). She said the metallic flavor you often taste with a conventional banana is the result of the pesticides used in commercial production. Now none of the fruit we tasted that night had the metallic flavor, but we also were not sampling the same variety as the commercial crop. Any banana experts out there? Inquiring minds want to know! :)

                          1. re: meatn3

                            organic bananas are fantastic. to me the taste and texture is so superior that i can't go back to the mealy, sour conventional ones. og bananas also are not "gassed" to ripen them-- the local organic warehouse has a separate, warmed room for the bananas to ripen naturally (more slowly=better flavor). definitely worth the extra 30 cents or whatever/pound because you'll eat og bananas like/instead of candy & sweets.

                        2. My top priority has actually shifted from buying organic all the time to buying local as much as possible and when I have a choice between local/organic and local/conventional I'll choose the latter. This is partly because I want to support my *local* small farmers who may not be certified as organic but are in all but name. My exception to this is with dairy products and eggs - if a local organic version is not available then I'll get the non-local organic - anything to avoid the hormones! As has been said below I'm willing to pay more for local/organic as it represents the true cost of food rather than the artificially reduced prices from the economies of scale in factory-farming.

                          7 Replies
                            1. re: xanadude

                              I think you should click on this link. This will tell you what the requirements are for something to be labeled as organic.

                              http://organicecology.umn.edu/wp-cont...

                              1. re: Miss Needle

                                I think you should click on this link. This will tell you that the federal government prohibits the use of hormones in raising all--not just organic--poultry (and swine). In fact, the claim "no hormones added" cannot be used on the labels of pork or poultry unless it is followed by a statement that says "Federal regulations prohibit the use of hormones."

                                http://www.fsis.usda.gov/Fact_Sheets/...

                                1. re: alanbarnes

                                  They give cows hormones, they feed poultry the undesirable cuts of beef, sounds to me like the chickens are indeed getting hormones, albeit indirectly.

                                  I noticed that there aren't any restrictions on giving poultry antibiotics. Which makes sense, as most chickens would die without antibiotics given their living conditions.

                                2. re: Miss Needle

                                  To Xanadude -- sorry, I misread your post. I saw hormones in meat.

                                3. re: xanadude

                                  In factory farms there is no guessing at what might go into chicken feed. Perhaps not hormones, but still...

                                  1. re: xanadude

                                    There's something completely unnatural about the chicken breasts my mother bought recently at her local supermarket. Two boneless skinless chicken breast halves that weighed close to 4 lbs total is not normal.

                                    If it ain't hormones, it's something else that I don't want in my body. And I most certainly do not want all the antibiotics in me either. I'll save that for when I'm sick myself.

                                4. Almost all of my meat and poultry is organic or free-range. I buy it because of the higher levels of animal welfre required for the certification. I am just happier to know that the animal has not been raised cruelly. I buy most via the internet direct from a fully certificated farm in our region.

                                  Fruit & veg are more difficult. I prefer the idea of not eating items grown with pesticides and inorganic fertiliser. However, our agriculture has not kept pace with demand which means a lot of organic produce has to be imported. That raises other ethical issues - not least about carbon footprints. I also now try to buy as much as possible from the village greengrocer, rather than the supermarket. So, I compromise. Most tends to be nationally grown bought from the greengrocer but when I need something more exotic, I will look for organic in the supermarket. I am also very keen to buy imported fruit and veg which is Fairtrade certified, but these are only available in the supermarket. Life's difficult for the ethical eater.

                                  1. Everything in moderation, so I don't totally go broke or ingest too many pesticides. I buy local milk over organic milk, because the organic is all ultra-pasteurized and would actually keep on the shelf, but we stick it in the fridge in this country so that no one realizes it's been heated to within an inch of its life. Aren't you always amazed by the sell-by date on most organic milk? The local milk comes from mostly grass-fed cows and also comes in glass bottles - a huge plus, since we're all trying to avoid overdosing on plastic, right? The paper milk cartons are lined after all. I buy organic citrus for zesting, organic eggs some of the time - and then sometimes just the "humane, free-range" when I'm not feeling so flush. These definitely taste better than standard issue eggs. Organic carrots taste loads better. Frozen organic peas and corn. And organic chicken, for sure. The breasts always at least are the size that indicate they came from a chicken-sized chicken and not some turkey-sized chicken pumped full of hormones. It would just be too expensive, not to mention too exhausting to make sure that everything we eat, wear, bathe in and breathe is somehow pure and won't harm us. Aren't we all just so lucky that we have these options and don't have to walk miles and miles in the middle of the night just to get in line for water and/or grain somewhere in the middle of Africa?!

                                    1. I want to buy only organic, because I have ethical issues with some of the non organic practices and because we have a son with autism. Is it diet, shots, better diagnosis? I have no clue. I just know that putting chemicals into a kid who may have a chemical sensitivity, may not be the smartest move on the planet. I also have ethical issues with corporate meat and dairy production. I don't need to convert anyone, just my take on it.

                                      The problem is, we cannot afford some of the local CSA's, which are extremly high priced for the organics. We are looking into some that are not certified organic farms, but are either mostly organic, or working on it. We also are switching out our eggs from store bought, to a local farm this week.

                                      Taste. I've not noticed any taste difference, except in canned tomato products and then, I don't know if it's growing practices, or the actual canning process.

                                      The one item we do not buy that is organic, ever, is milk products. We want to, but with four kids, who go through a gallon a day, it's cost prohibative. We only eat meat once a week, and then it's always organic and humanly raised. That ethical thing again.

                                      6 Replies
                                      1. re: nliedel

                                        I buy organic almost exclusively and biodynamic where possible. this twin pronged strategy is supported and made economically viable by the magic of seasonality.

                                        when its seasonal its cheaper and it tastes better as farmers work with nature and not against it.

                                        buying seasonal locally produced oprganic food means my carbon footprint is minimised

                                        Organic, Biodynamic, locally produced seasonal food really does taste better and the variety of flavours are incomparable with a supermarket offer.

                                        Supermarket organic food tastes identical to non-organic; bland, uniform and uninteresting.

                                        we get what we deserve and the vast majority of people really dont care or dont know what good food is.

                                        if i lived in the US, between the hormone reared cattle and monsanto milk, i would buy exclusively organic or more likely become a vegetarian.

                                        1. re: pecandanish

                                          Our non-organic cattle in the U.S. is not all hormone-reared and the milk is definitely not all monsanto. "We get what we deserve." No, some people can't afford anything else. Mass production leads to less people on the planet starving, unfortunately. I think it's great that you can afford to buy almost exclusively organic and biodynamic (whatever that is) - but it's not the reality for most people. Consider yourself lucky and privileged.

                                          1. re: suse

                                            Yep, affordability has a lot to do with the food choices we make. If we were only two people, it would be more cut and dry, but with six mouths? It gets a bit more interesting. This year we're canning more than ever and freezing more vegetables when they are in season. Oh and drying, we're going to be drying a good bit of the fruits we buy/u-pick.

                                            I really celebrate my ability to have these many choices, though. When I was a kid the one grocery store in town was it, and being in a community garden, as we were, was akin to being a hippy. Not a bad thing, but made bus rides a tad tense.

                                            1. re: nliedel

                                              We are also freezing and canning what we can nliedel. We get a huge bag each week in the summer from our CSA and also have a small garden. We freeze everything we don't eat fresh and are so glad not to have to pay a premium price for organic vegetables in the winter. I just wish I had local sources for organic fruits so I could freeze more fruit for the winter.

                                              1. re: lupaglupa

                                                You just hit our next venture. I live in a manufactured home in a manufactured home park (no cracks please). We have VERY little land and it's not ours. Still, our neighbors have several nice raised beds behind their home. We're going to do that this year. Last year we did containers, but the constant need to water got in the way of life. We also have a nice little herb garden, but we're increasing it five fold this year. Still won't feed a family of six, but it's a start.

                                                1. re: nliedel

                                                  We have 5 raised beds, 5x5. We only grow things that bear heavily - for instance though I love broccoli it doesn't make sense to take up that much of my small space for one head. I try to grow things that go up - tomatoes, beans, peas, cucumbers etc. Using the raised beds (fed with our own compost) makes getting a good crop easier. It's also great for my son who loves to "help" me in the garden. Pole beans are our best crop - one 5x5 bed gives us enough in the freezer for the winter. And the taste of just picked can't be beat.

                                      2. I buy seasonally. In the summer I try to purchase most of my produce from Farmer's Markets because it's cheaper and the best tasting. I also purchase eggs there as well.
                                        Once winter rolls around I make more choices based on price although I always purchase organic eggs and milk no matter what the cost is.
                                        In general, I do not purchase organic meats as I don't have a good local source that I really like and I think most Whole Foods meats are tasteless, the beef in particular.
                                        Although I've always been a big fan of Farmer's markets, I lot of my shift towards organic was fueled by the birth of my son. I work in the science end of the environmental field so I do have a pretty grim outlook in regards to our children's futures. It's a very dirty world out there.

                                        1. We buy all our meat all year long at a farm about a 30 minute drive from where we live. The meats not raised at this farm are trucked in from no farther than eastern PA. The difference in taste and texture from super market stuff is extraordinary. As for produce, we try to buy organic or natural as far as we are able during the winter months, and always during our local growing season. We do this for all the philosophical and health reasons already quoted. It just makes so much sense in my mind.

                                          When I was a child, our gardner grew all our vegetables which he started with his own seeds and I carried that memory when I had my own garden...starting everything from local organic seeds, composting kitchen scraps, etc. What an exhilarating experience it is to plant a seed and see that tiny thing grow and produce nourishment. The children helped in my garden just as I helped Rosario, and now they garden as well.

                                          1. is there any certification of things being organic??

                                            im guessing it could be a marketing stunt...for example most whole weat breat is not really whole wheet, its actually 5% or less whole wheet....

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: Echotraveler

                                              The U.S. Dept. of Agriculture regulates the certification program and process for Organic farmers and growers. Although it is extensive and and somewhat expensive, thankfully farmers all over the country have gained their organic certification. Here is a link to the site:
                                              http://www.ams.usda.gov/nop/indexIE.htm

                                              An exerpt from the General Regulations:
                                              "Production and handling operations seeking to receive or maintain organic certification must comply with the Act and applicable organic production and handling regulations. Such operations must establish, implement, and annually update an organic production or handling system plan that is submitted to an accredited certifying agent. They must permit on-site inspections by the certifying agent with complete access to the production or handling operation, including noncertified production and handling areas, structures, and offices."

                                              Organic farming is not a stunt. It is taken very seriously by those who want to maintain a healthy and sustainable environment.

                                              1. re: Echotraveler

                                                Yes, there are very detailed regulations for organic certification in the United States. To read the regulation, I'm trying to attach a link to the USDA website. When you go to the link, there's another link at the top of the page to go directly to the regulation. In order for a product to be labeled as organic in the US, if it's a processed product, it has to be certifed by an agency accredited by the US Department of Ag, and has to contain at minimum 95% organic ingredients. If it is labeled as "Made with Organic" it must be at least 70% organic ingredients, and must specify the organic ingredients it is "made with." If a farm is making over $5000 gross income on organic products sold directly to the consumer they must be certifed by an accredited certifier; if they are selling into the food production stream, they must be certified regardless of income.

                                                The EU has a regulation that product sold as organic in the EU must meet (EEC 2092/91), Japan does as well (JAS Organic Agricultural Standard). Canada is in the process of completing their federal organic law; Quebec has had a mandatory regulation in place for several years.

                                                Here's that link to the US law:

                                                http://www.ams.usda.gov/nop/NOP/stand...

                                              2. It gets very expensive if you try to buy everything organically grown.

                                                32 Replies
                                                1. re: raytamsgv

                                                  "Very expensive" is a relative term. Americans spend the smallest percentage of their income on food in the world. It's not that organic food is "very expensive," it's that it's obviously more expensive than conventionally produced food available in the same area to the same consumers.

                                                  I'd rather spend a few more dollars on a good product from a local farmer than have more money in my wallet to spend on crap from China and the thousands of other things even lower-income Americans throw their money away on every day, but that's just me.

                                                  1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                    Where I think the good arguments in favor of organic foods and supporting those that grow it in ways that are sustainable go off track is in the second paragraph of your response. If you ended it at "I'd rather spend a few more dollars on a good product from a local farmer" it's virtually unassailable. Certainly there are plenty of people who make decisions that are at best questionable when it comes to spending money, but painting with such a broad brush obscures the real thrust of what you're getting at. People who buy exclusively organic foods also buy crap from China and some people who don't buy anything that isn't made in America surely struggle to put any food on the table, organic or not.

                                                    1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                      Organic and farm fresh foods are luxuries. $8 for a gallon of organic milk is not easily accessible to all Americans. wow, your second paragraph is quite insulting and presumptuous.

                                                      1. re: moymoy

                                                        I didn't say all Americans. But for the vast majority of Americans, the difference between paying $5 for a gallon of milk and $8, even several times a week, is not going to break them. People in other countries who are poorer than even the poorest Americans are paying the equivalent (adjusted for the cost of living) or more for their food.

                                                        1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                          Around here we pay three dollars for a gallon of milk and eight dollars for an organic gallon of milk. That's a thirty five dollar difference a week, to us, and that is not small potatoes. That is a week's worth of lunches, or almost a week's worth of gas.

                                                          1. re: nliedel

                                                            Wait - you go through a gallon of milk a day? That's a lot, wow.

                                                            Where do you live? I'm surprised at the price difference between the organic and non, both that the non is so low and the organic so high.

                                                            I don't know what your option are, but if milk is that big a part of your diet, I think it would be worth it in terms of long term health to think about your options. Perhaps you could find a more affordable milk that was not organic but was certified free of RBST (Bovine growth hormone, possible links to cancer), or look into getting fresh milk from a local farmer. localharvest.org or realmilk.com are great for this. And heck, depending on where you live, if you go through a gallon a day you might want to look into getting a goat or a cow and milking it. It would certainly be a long run savings, and you would know what went into your milk.

                                                            1. re: andytee

                                                              I believe, from reading other posts in this thread, that nliedel's family is 6 people. A gallon a day isn't hard at that point and doesn't constitute a huge part of the family's diet, either.

                                                              1. re: ccbweb

                                                                I don't want to seem like I'm picking on anyone -- I just want to point out that a gallon is 128 ounces. Divided by six that's slightly more than 2 and a half cups per person. That's a lot of milk to drink every day, especially for an adult.

                                                                1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                  So long as it's a low fat, preferably skim, it's a great option as a beverage. A bowl of cereal for breakfast and a large glass of milk with dinner would get you there.

                                                                  When I was a kid, my younger brother and I went through close to a gallon of milk a day for a stretch when I was about 12 (and he 10) until I was 16 or 17. Milk and water was all we both drank.

                                                                  So, perhaps it is a lot, but it's comprehensible to me. Not that anecdote tells anything but it's own story.

                                                                  1. re: ccbweb

                                                                    Yep, family of six with lots of kids in and out of here. One word, Cereal. My older two are addicted. I use skim for protein shakes for my marathon training, the little ones drink a lot of milk, one is just past the toddler stage. We don't juice, ever, no pop (soda) and they love water, but milk is the go-to drink. I make some of our cheese and all of our yogurt, so a gallon a day, or a little less, is about right.

                                                                    My husky will drink whey (with no unpleasent side effects) when she is running with me. Found that out when she started ripping the garbage apart for it. I swear I would get a Jersey Cow if we could keep one here. I don't expect this consumption rate to last, but it's pretty high right now.

                                                                    Edited to say that I drink Diet Coke, but the kids and husband don't drink pop.

                                                                    1. re: nliedel

                                                                      Family of 6 with kids, and making cheese and yogurt, Ok, I can see it.

                                                                      I still think the point stands that something that is that big a portion of your diet is worth thinking about the health issues with.

                                                                      1. re: andytee

                                                                        The budget only stretches so far and with the cost of some of the treatments and therapies for my son with autism, organic milk is not in the picture right now.

                                                                        I should have also stated that I make our bread too, with milk for the kids. I prefer a lean bread with a nice crust, myself. I make all our baked good as well, with the occaissional foray into a convenience food cause I'm tired.

                                                                          1. re: nliedel

                                                                            What is the cost difference in your area between factory farmed milk and milk that is not certified organic, but is free of RBST? That just might be a worthwhile compromise.

                                                                            1. re: Morton the Mousse

                                                                              exactly, that's what i was suggesting. i have lived in several places where there were options like that - garelick in new england, clover in san francisco..

                                                                              1. re: andytee

                                                                                Or Trader Joe's in lots of places...

                                                                                1. re: andytee

                                                                                  Or Alta Dena in Southern California. I actually buy it over the organic milk suppliers in my area, because at markets other than Whole Foods, your options are Horizon or Knudsen or Alta Dena. Although certified orgainic, Horizon is a conglomorate, Knudsen is commercial, and I know Alta Dena is produced locally, and uses no hormones, so I go with them.

                                                                                  1. re: DanaB

                                                                                    DanaB - If you are looking for an organic milk without the corporate parentage associated with Horizon (Dean Foods) you might be able to find milk from Organic Valley. They are pretty well distributed nationally and their business model is an independent coop of small farmers, so the milk should be pretty local.

                                                                                    1. re: andytee

                                                                                      Organic Farms is also considered a brand and co-op that actually works and has stayed true to their origins. They are pretty highly respected in the organic field.

                                                                                      1. re: sebetti

                                                                                        Are you sure you have the name right? I have heard of "Organic Cow" Milk, but not "Organic Farms", and couldn't google it up either. Organic Cow brand is actually owned by Horizon.

                                                                                        Oh, and btw, for anyone interested, a good reason to avoid Horizon if you buy organic milk:
                                                                                        http://www.organicconsumers.org/artic...

                                                                                        1. re: andytee

                                                                                          Sorry, it's Organic Valley: Family of Farms
                                                                                          Interestingly enough, the same site you linked to above has a very, very positive article about Organic Valley

                                                                                          http://www.organicconsumers.org/artic...

                                                                                          1. re: sebetti

                                                                                            Organic Valley is also a sponsor of the website.

                                                                                            1. re: ccbweb

                                                                                              sigh...yeah, like as in how people sponsor NPR.

                                                                                              1. re: sebetti

                                                                                                If we want to connect lines between corporations, money and influence and to be able to make judgments and determinations about who is acting responsibly and who we wish to support, we should recognize the whole package.

                                                                                                I'm not claiming that Organic Valley's sponsorship negates anything positive about it on the site or from the group, but it demonstrates an interest.

                                                          2. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                            Yes, it is a relative term. But so is "a few more dollars." For example, we buy organic milk, and it costs me about $500 more per year than non-organic milk. For discussion purposes, let's assume that it costs an additional $2,500 per year for more organic products. While an additional $3,000 per year (or $250 per month) is trivial to some people, it is not insignificant to me. Moreover, as my kids get older, I'm sure that amount would increase a lot simply because they will eat a whole lot more. If the costs increase to, let's say, $6,000 per year, that's another $500 per month on top of the existing grocery budget. Twenty years of spending at this rate results in an additional cost of $120,000.

                                                            If people can afford to spend that, more power to them. I applaud them.

                                                            Personally, I actually grow some of my own veggies--it's a lot cheaper, good exercise, and tastes even better than store-bought organic produce. I don't even use many organic pesticides, because they can also be quite toxic.

                                                            1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                              Ruth, I understand what you're saying. It's all about priorities. In 2006, Americans spent about 10% of their income on food. This chart is a bit outdated, but shows the relative percentages spent on food by country. The US is on the bottom.

                                                              http://209.85.165.104/search?q=cache:...

                                                              1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                Ruth,

                                                                Not that you need my help, but I gotta chime in with you on this one. The only way your second paragraph might be considered "insulting and presumptuous" is if it ripped out of the context established by the first paragraph.

                                                                The fact is that there's very little hunger in the modern industrialized world. We may have the only society in history with a significant number of fat poor people. Everybody has to make decisions about how to spend their money, but a day's pay in America at ANY income level provides more than enough money for food. The question isn’t whether we can eat, it’s what we choose to eat.

                                                                IMHO the problem is that Americans have begun to view food as a commodity. Parts is parts, so to speak. (Or hamburger is hamburger, potatoes are potatoes, etc.) Just look at the weekly circular from the local grocery. Does it focus on the source of the food? Its quality? The way it was grown? No--low price is the driving factor. Once food has been commoditized, the only distinguishing feature is how much it costs. So retailers offer food that's cheap, flavorless, and unsustainable, and we buy it, feed it to our families, and all act surprised when the Humane Society exposes the fact that the sloppy joes served at the kids’ school is made with hamburger from "downer" cattle.

                                                                Sure it costs more (in the short run, anyway) to buy sustainably-raised food. And some people can’t afford to increase their grocery budgets. (I know this from personal [and fortunately long-past] experience; more than once I spent my last few dollars on big bags of beans and rice so there’d be food in the house.) But there are very few people in the industrialized world who can’t adjust their food purchases to buy better-quality food within a given budget.

                                                                Sure, if you start with the premise that you’re going to buy a certain quantity of a certain food, a food budget of $X per month will go up dramatically if you buy higher-quality stuff. Wal-Mart’s per-pound price for downerburger is a lot less than a local rancher’s price for ground chuck. But keep in mind that in most of the world, animal products are a luxury. So eat less hamburger and more lentils. Buy better milk and drink less of it.

                                                                The way we as a society are eating today can’t go on—be sustained, to coin a phrase—indefinitely. We’re depleting the soil, poisoning the environment, and loading our bodies with saturated fats, carcinogens, and other nasties. Isn’t it better to maintain the same food budget by eating lower on the food chain than to accelerate and exacerbate the problem by claiming that we can’t afford to eat sustainably?

                                                                  1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                    Hear, hear!

                                                                    As Pollan says, eat less; pay more. Quality over quantity, exactly the opposite of a commodity.

                                                                1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                  "Very expensive" may be a relative term, but my grocery bill has more than doubled in the last 3 years and it is a very large part of our net monthly income (and we are only 3 mouths.) I do buy organic milk and eggs, and I always shop the local farms/farmer's markets in season, but the rest of the year we simply cannot afford to buy everything organic. But I am noticing the prices of organic fruits and vegetables coming down in our grocery store and I am buying more and more organic now, where it makes the most sense too. My primary goals are to limit the amounts of pesticides, hormones and antibiotics we are ingesting.

                                                                  1. re: flourgirl

                                                                    You make a good point there. People have been talking about the price of food going up, but I haven't really noticed that is has, and that's probably because I was buying mostly local/organic food to begin with. As you said, prices for organics are holding or going down, and prices for conventionally raised food are going up, so the difference is less than it used to be. There were a couple of years when I didn't go to the supermarket at all, and when I finally did, I was amazed that the produce there wasn't significantly cheaper (if at all) then the stuff I was buying at my organic market or the farmers market. The real deals on produce are in ethnic (Mexican or Asian) markets. I heard recently that the reason some produce is cheaper in Chinatown is that the ripe/ready to eat produce that small Chinatown markets prefer is actually discounted by the wholesaler who wants to move it. I suspect this is true for most small/independent markets who are going to buy it and turn it over quickly and don't have to worry about it keeping as it spends days moving through a massive distribution system.

                                                                    1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                      We are starting to see some Mexican markets opening up in our area and I was just thinking to myself this afternoon that I need to check them out. I have always heard that the produce can be a real bargain at the Asian markets as well, but we don't have any in our immediate area. There are some within about 1/2 hour though, and I think I'm going to have to scope them out and maybe plan on biweekly trips.

                                                                      My mom and I are going to split a share in a local cooperative farm this summer too. I'm really excited about this - it's my first time! :)

                                                              2. I completely ignore the "organic" label. It means very little, and what it does mean is usually irrelevant to what I'm interested in when choosing my food.

                                                                The real questions are sustainability and flavor. And the best way to ensure both of those is to buy from food from farmers, not multinational conglomerates. Whether it's through a CSA or at a farmers' market, knowing the provenance of food--and being able to ask questions of somebody with first-hand knowledge about it--is far more important than a seal on a package that came from an anonymous factory farm.

                                                                1. I highly encourage the reading of Barbara Kingsolver's "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life" particularly if you're a naysayer to organic and/or local food.

                                                                  http://harpercollins.com/books/978006...

                                                                  1. I buy organic food because it is the right thing to do - and I can afford to. If I couldn't afford it (& for many years I couldn't) I wouldn't buy it. If the flavor is better - I can't always tell the difference - that is a bonus.

                                                                    1. I buy organic milk and eggs because I want to avoid the extra hormones and they taste SO much better. I also buy organic broths. Has anyone else noticed that chicken broth that isn't organic is dark brown and smells like pee instead of being the color and actual smell of chicken? I usually buy organic carrots because they are the cheapest root veggie I can find in organic. Also, I pick free-range meat if I can't afford organic. There is a local farmers market here in Denver that had fresh meat and produce that isn't exactly organic, but its either farm fresh or comes from a local farmer. That is good enough for me!

                                                                      1. How many of you have actually read the painful list of standards and regulations related to certifying a product or farm as "organic"? used to work for a major chemical manufacturer, so I have read a great deal of the regulations. I just want to point out that "organic" labeled products still can use pesticides, so you're not eating pesticide free produce just because it's labeled "organic". They are just limited to a list of EPA and USDA approved pesticide products and have some additional restrictions on how long they can contact the product or how long you have to wait after application, but if you're buying organic in a major grocery chain, I would almost guarantee it did come in contact with a pesticide like Chlorine at some point in time. They do this to help prevent the spread of disease. While I agree that chemical usage in foods has gotten out of hand and I look for products with ingredients I can easily read and understand, I still think we have to be realistic that it's not all bad.

                                                                        6 Replies
                                                                        1. re: jboeke

                                                                          I am an organic inspector, and can say specifically that under the National Organic Program, chlorine is NOT allowed as a pesticide at any time in organic production. Chlorine products are limited to use as a disinfectant or sanitizer, and must not exceed the maximum residual disinfectant level under the Safe Drinking Water Act. Yes, some pest control materials are allowed. But, before they can be used, the producer MUST utilize crop rotation, sanitation (removal of pest habitat, for example), development of habitat for natural enemies (beneficial insects, establishment of bat boxes and the like), and use nonsynthetic lures (pheromones) prior to using any of the allowed materials for pest control. Additionally, many of the allowed materials may not come in contact with plants, and can only be used in perimeter applications. Your statement regarding how long a product can come into contact with a plant or waiting after application are absolutely incorrect. Allowed pest control materials are either allowed for use in compliance with their labelling restrictions, are allowed for use but may not come into direct contact with foods or plants, or are prohibited. There's no such thing as "a little bit allowed."

                                                                          I have to disagree with your reading of the regulation. I have worked with 7 CFR Part 205 (the National Organic Program Final Rule) since it was enacted 6 years ago, and prior to that I was heavily involved in commenting on the drafts of the Final Rule, was part of the 60,000+ commenters that opposed the initially proposed rule, and caused that iteration to be scrapped. This could potentially have been what you read, it was not nearly as restrictive as the Final Rule is). I have worked as an organic inspector or in the regulatory aspect of organic foods for private certifiers prior to the NOP for 10 years. Yes, you could argue that I have a biased point of view here, and perhaps I do. I've been an organic foods consumer since 1986 (my sophomore year of college). But as someone who works in the chemical industry, you have a bias as well. And the "information" you have provided above is, at minimum, incorrect, and at worst, blatantly misleading to consumers. Please do your research before making these claims.

                                                                          1. re: OrganicGal

                                                                            I'm not going to take on the whole issue, but in your points you note that "some pest control materials are allowed."

                                                                            What sort of things comprise those materials?

                                                                            Further, the fact that other measures are required before those materials may be used doesn't alter the fact that they may be used.

                                                                            1. re: ccbweb

                                                                              Actually, it's not too hard to provide a full list of what's allowed (which is also available at the National Organic Program website, www.ams.usda.gov/nop).

                                                                              Ammonium carbonate (used as bait only, no contact with soil or crops allowed
                                                                              )Boric Acid (structural control only, no contact with soil or crops)
                                                                              Copper sulfate (tadpole and shrimp control in aquatic rice production only)
                                                                              Elemental sulfur
                                                                              Lime sulfur,
                                                                              Narrow range horticultural oils (dormant, summer, and suffocating oil)
                                                                              Insecticidal soaps (most commonly used is Safer's insecticidal soap, you can find this product at any Target or Wal-mart for use in the home to control spider mites, aphids, and the like)
                                                                              Sticky Traps (which aren't applied to the plant, but are near the plant to trap pests).
                                                                              Naturally occuring plant products, such as neem oil (this is from a tree native to the Indian subcontinent) or pyrethum products (extracted from chrysanthemum seed, and must not include synergists such as piperonyl butoxide)
                                                                              naturally occurring plant oils such as wintergreen, rosemary, mint, or clove.
                                                                              Diatomaceous earth (a powdery, chalky product that contains diatoms, fossilized hard-shelled algae)
                                                                              Naturally produced (non-genetically modified) bacillus thuringiensis (this is a naturally occurring bacteria, one that is gene-spliced into some crops, such as corn and cotton, as a genetically modified plant that would not be allowed in organic production).

                                                                              Quick edit...I forgot to mention garlic products, and mechanical controls (some folks hang strips of mylar balloons in trees so the flashing scares away birds and deer, or uses those things I call "blow up people" that you see sometimes at used car lots, they are set to blow up randomly and wave in the wind, again, scaring off birds and deer. And I know one guy that kept his radio on all the time in his chicken house, tuned to some sort of talk radio to scare of foxes...worked until one night the station changed over to easy listening music!)

                                                                              Additionally, three naturally occuring pest control materials that are allowed in conventional farming that are not allowed in organic farming are:
                                                                              arsenic
                                                                              strychnine
                                                                              tobacco (nicotine) dust

                                                                              So, really, there aren't many allowed materials; most organic farmers don't use any products and rely on rotation, soil health, and establishment of habitat for beneficial insects. For example, I don't use any products on the tomatoes I grow to control pests, and haven't had a single tomato horn-worm for several years. About 6 years ago, I was having a problem with them, released parasitic wasps, let them parasitize the worms, built up habitat for their over-wintering along my garden edge, the next year there was a significant decrease, and the third year forward, none. These materials, yes, are allowed. Most good organic farmers never use any of them, though.

                                                                              So, there you go...that's the list. Pretty brief.

                                                                              1. re: OrganicGal

                                                                                Thank you Organic Girl for your two posts. There is so much misinformation out there about what the organic certification means. Whenever there are attempts to change the law (weaken it in some recent cases) the perception seems to get out that the government has really not done anything on organics at all. It's nice to know someone working on this issue is really committed to it personally.

                                                                                1. re: OrganicGal

                                                                                  Thanks for the link. I wish I felt better after reading it. I respect the push for better ways to grow food and to raise livestock but the notion that "organic" means much of anything in and of itself, in the context of the actual world is undercut by the answer to one of the questions on the "questions and answers" page. That the National Organic Program is a "process" focused program. The end results are not as important (and indeed, are not important) to the certification process. Perhaps some individuals certifiers apply the rules differently, but the NOP requires "good faith" efforts and allows for "contamination" by GMOs and other disallowed materials. It may well be that most organic farms maintain practices and put out goods that really do hit the marks we'd all like them to....but it's not a sure thing even with accreditation.

                                                                                  I'm not by any stretch of the imagination arguing that "organic" means nothing or that we shouldn't be aware of and make choices based on the ways things are grown. I do think that labels and seals and certifications don't tell us very much in a truly definitive way in this case.

                                                                                  1. re: ccbweb

                                                                                    some of the "organic pesticides" farmers in my area are familiar with are derived from other plants (chrysanthemum root, for example), or are in fact naturally occurring microorganisms (bacillus thuringiensis) that live harmlessly in the stomachs of most mammals including humans, but are deadly to caterpillars.

                                                                                    organic spraying methods differ from conventional ones-- conventional pesticides are persistent in the environment after they are applied, and "stick" to the plants & fruits they are meant to treat (think ddt), which is why there is so much concern about these pesticides getting into the animals who eat the plants, persisting in their meat tissues, and eventually building up in the systems of the animals at the top of the food chain (natural predators such as raptors, & humans).

                                                                                    organic plant-based pesticides & bacterial sprays break down quickly under natural conditions (sunlight) and do not leave a residue on the plant. an organic farmer must apply "organic pesticides" more often as a result (if there is a serious insect infestation in the crop). this is one reason that successful organic farmers are experts in other natural forms of pest control, such as interplanting and crop rotation, aimed at reducing the cost and labor of using organic pesticides as an input.

                                                                          2. I try to buy organic whenever possible, mostly produce, but also anywhere there's a possibility of GMO's (corn, soy, canola) since GM isn't allowed in organic food. The produce generally has more flavor grown organically. you want a taste test, try an organic vs conventional peach.

                                                                            Buyer beware though, I bought some organic eggs one time (store brand) and they seemed unusally cheap for organic (less than $3/dozen). Got them home and the yolk was completely pale and the eggs were pretty flavorless. Industrial organic doesn't equal more flavor, it didn't seem to me that these chickens got a very nutritious diet...just an organic one.

                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                            1. re: bwave

                                                                              This is not directly in response to your post, but I wanted to address something that always comes up in these discussions - the "I had an organic food item x and it was just terrible!" argument. Well, yeah, there is bad organic food. You can get a mushy apple, and hard and tasteless avocado, and runny eggs (might just be old, might be the diet). Same holds true for any fresh produce, and the trick is knowing how and where to shop. Same story for conventional and organic.

                                                                            2. Organic food is always more expensive, doesn't always taste better, is not scientifically proven to be any better for us, and is often shipped from foreign countries, meaning that not only is it not as fresh, but also large amounts of fuel were used to ship it.

                                                                              Organic foods have been snapped up by big agribusiness. There are agribusiness organic farms, so it's not as if buying organic supports the small local farmer. Whole Paycheck - oops, I mean Whole Foods, is basically an organic Wal Mart where all kinds of junk foods are sold side by side with that produce and the masses think everything they see if good for them just because it's labelled organic.

                                                                              I'm not saying I avoid buying organic, but I don't make a point of it. When the farmer's markets are operating (and in the Northeast, it's less than half the year unfortunately), I try to get as much of my produce at them as possible, but those farms aren't necessarily organic. Their main draw for me is that their food is fresh, they support small farms, and because they're close to home, don't use enormous amounts of energy to get to me.

                                                                              1. I buy organic produce that I know is sprayed most heavily with pesticides. And I buy organic milk and free range eggs (sometimes organic also).

                                                                                7 Replies
                                                                                1. re: FoodieKat

                                                                                  Some growers use what's called Intergrated Pest Management (IPM) where completely organic proceedures are impossible, for instance corn and apples. Just two foods which are need some sort of "help" to develop fully.

                                                                                  Here's a link that explains that whole program:
                                                                                  http://www.epa.gov/opp00001/factsheet...

                                                                                  1. re: Gio

                                                                                    Uhh.....and why exactly is it impossible to grow corn organically? Literally thousands of organic farmers who do not use any herbicides, pesticides, or nutrient inputs in NE, SD, ND, IA, MN, WI, KS, and MO would be quite startled at this statement, and wonder how they've been doing it all these years (including one I know personally in central NE that has been doing this since about 1970).

                                                                                    They are able to manage nutrient load, pest control, and disease control through 8 to 10 year crop rotations, and manage weeds with equipment. I'm not saying that IPM is a bad thing, in conventional agriculture, I think it's what everyone should strive for to reduce pesticide use! If anyone asks me about going "sorta organic" because they don't want to give up this or that input, I point them to IPM as a starting point. But to say corn can't be grown organically, now that's just silly...

                                                                                    1. re: OrganicGal

                                                                                      At a master gardner lecture I attended a few years ago, it was stated that corn and a few other vegetables and fruit were difficult to grow without some kind of careful IPM use. Glad to read what you say about it!

                                                                                      1. re: OrganicGal

                                                                                        It depends on the location, etc. Impossible in the sense of almost certainly commercially infeasible, based on the local insects and climate, given the yield and price the product will sell for. It is a business, after all.

                                                                                        1. re: xanadude

                                                                                          I would think another issue would be available varieties, which have been bred for yield in a monoculture. For most of the history of the domesticated corn plant, corn was grown organically because that was the only kind of agriculture there was. But that was with very different farming practices and varieties of corn.

                                                                                          1. re: jlafler

                                                                                            Definitely; monoculture's a serious problem for pest control, and it's exacerbated by low commodity pricing, which encourages it because it's more efficient.

                                                                                        2. re: OrganicGal

                                                                                          Add to your list farmers in Mexico and Canada. The best thing I've seen about corn production is the film, "The Future of Food." It's available on Netflix, and is well worth everyone's time. The problem with IPAs is "self-created," and it is likely unsustainable in the long run. Certainly they've concoted methods of growing corn that yeild a great harvest, but to what cost? Even within the industry they are concerned about whether or not the genetically engineered crop systems will yeild resistant pests. And if that happens, then what next? Why not just return to methods of growing crops that have been established for millenia? We may have to give up some yield, but to what detriment? After all, the whole farm bill in the U.S. is designed to deal with overproductive crops. Fix the bill, and grow things right. Everyone would be better off in the long run, including farmers.

                                                                                    2. Just milk and eggs for me. Too expensive to buy everything organic, and to be honest, it looks like most of the produce you're likely to buy at Central Market is also available for cheaper at HEB. And I'm talking about the exact same produce with the same stickers. I keep the money to buy other expensive items like fresh fish and wine. :) You got to compromise sometimes.

                                                                                      1. I try to buy food that is local, organic and not treated with hormones or antibiotics to reduce the following:
                                                                                        1) The amount of pesticides released into the environment.
                                                                                        2) The amount of fuel used to process and transport my food.
                                                                                        3) The amount of hormones artificially introduced to my body.
                                                                                        4) The amount of suffering endured by our food animals.
                                                                                        5) The rate at which agricultural practices are working to develop antibiotic-resistant diseases.

                                                                                        I view the extra money that I'm spending on food more or less as a moral tax; as others have said before me, I'm making an effort to pay the actual price of good food, rather than pay the reduced price of bad food that has other, hidden costs (e.g. damage to the environment and to the public health, problems which we will all be paying for in the long run anyway).

                                                                                        Spending more on food is hard for me, particularly because I work in public service and don't make a ton of money, but I can't in good conscience support a system that I believe is unsustainable and irresponsible. And the extra dollars I spend on food are totally balanced out by the extra pleasure I get out of supporting food sources that align with my morals.

                                                                                        Because of the higher cost of grass-fed meat, I eat a lot less meat than I used to, but I feel that this shift is as good for my health as it is for the health of the planet.

                                                                                        I try to stick to my principles as much as possible, but I will buy conventionally-produced goods when there are no organic options available, and I have no problem eating meals cooked by family/friends or restaurants from conventionally-produced ingredients.

                                                                                        1. I choose organic because I believe in cumulative effects...every little bit counts. When I discovered how much pesticides were left on conventionally grown potatoes I was totally freaked out! Who knew?! So now I'm in process of changing the sources where we get our food from. I choose to buy local first, then organic, then conventional.

                                                                                          Is it easy? No. Going to the grocery store is awesome! Is it cheap? No. Organic/hormone-free/biodynamic stuff requires more human time, a larger monetary investment, etc. Do I regret it? Not even a little bit!

                                                                                          As it has been mentioned, it is not easy being green! Our meals have become dependent on factors we never even thought about such as ice storms, or droughts! It takes time and effort to seek out local purveryors too. On the other hand, there are at least a half-dozen grocery stores and big box stores near my place, which are open 24-7!

                                                                                          But when I sit down to a meal, I know where most of my food comes from. In the case of fruits and vegetables, I know who grew it, where it grew, who picked it. As for meats and eggs I am very lucky to get them from the famed Polyface farm in VA- I know where the cows came from, what grass they ate, what the chickens were fed, where the pigs spent the summer...

                                                                                          I guess (to answer the original question) the reason why I choose organic is because now "I know". Now that "I know" how chickens are raised, or the total effect of pesticides not only on the people who work with them but also on our waterways...Well- I can't go back!

                                                                                          I do spend a fair amount of my income on food, but those dollars are now following my views!

                                                                                          1. it's a mix. like others, my budget doesn't allow 100% organic. however, i garden myself so some of the year i get my veggies right out of my own back yard (and herbs and some fruits). i shop at the farmer's market as soon as there is stuff to buy there. but the rest of the year, i tend to just buy what i can where i can.
                                                                                            as for the "why" i guess to support local/small businesses instead of the supermarkets. to cut back on chemicals/hormones, etc. plus, most things taste better locally ripened, etc. i grew up with organic chicken, beef, lamb, etc so i know there is a HUGE difference.

                                                                                            1. I always buy organic just because, you dont have all the wax on the fruit & veggies, no pesticides were used in growing the items either. I also have a green house in my back yard and so I grow lots of my own veggies in the winter that are real expensive in the stores. A fresh greenhouse tomatoe from my greenhouse is lots better then the hothouse kind in the winter. And boy, do I can in the summer too so I can have those fresh things all the time. I have been known to ruin a stove or two while canning, so cheap stoves are on my list.