choose organic produce

Why I Will Always Choose Organic Produce

Do you choose organic produce when you grocery shop?  What are the benefits when you choose organic?  Does it matter?  It’s generally more expensive than conventionally grown but is it necessary?  Can you afford not to?

Should I Choose Organic?

In my 20’s, I didn’t think much about what I ate.  I knew that fruits and vegetables were ideal and that I couldn’t sustain life on Dorito’s and ice cream.  However, I didn’t give much thought to the chemicals in the food I was consuming.  When I was 28, I was slapped with a cancer diagnosis and boy did that change my thinking process.   When the oncologist asks you questions like, “did you grow up in an industrial area?”,  you begin to question what you put in to your body.  I didn’t grow up in an industrial area, in fact I grew up in the suburbs surrounded by lots of trees and parks and all the “good natural stuff” with “clean air”.  So in my mind, it wasn’t the environment that caused my cancer.

 

At about this same time, the popularity of organic produce seemed to be rising up.  Either that or I was just more attune to it given my then current circumstance.   I’m not a sciency gal, my brain just doesn’t work that way but I decided to do some research on conventionally grown produce.  If I was going to pay more for organic, there needed to be a good reason.

 

Bad vs. Good

During my research, I came across the Environmental Working Group.  If you’re not familiar with the EWG, it is an independent non profit organization dedicated to protecting human health and the environment.  Their website is full of so much great information, it’s like my bible reference guide for food, personal care products, cleaning products, etc.  Every year, they compile a list of the Top 12 (Dirty Dozen) fruits and vegetables highest in pesticides and a list of the Top 15 (Clean 15) fruits and vegetables with the lowest amount of pesticides.  I decided to focus my grocery dollars on buying the organic variety of Dirty Dozen products.

 

Then We Had Kids

Kids Playing In Rain

When you first become a parent, you want to shield these little human beings from everything.  Unless you live in a bubble, that can be quite difficult.  Did you know that today, there are over 85,000 chemicals in existence and only about 200 have been tested for their impact on human health?  That’s absolutely appalling.  Years and years ago when the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) tested and approved many of the pesticides that are in use today, studies hadn’t yet been conducted linking them to cancer.  Over half of the herbicides and fungicides already approved, are now considered to be potential causes of cancer.  Umm, ok, how about we take those things off the market?

 

Why I Choose Organic

I choose organic produce for our family based on the EWG recommendations for several reasons.  Half of my gene’s, the good, bad and the ugly, were inherited by my kids.  So whatever flawed gene I may have that led to my cancer diagnosis could be running around in their bodies as well.  If conventional pesticides could be linked to cancer, I can’t think of any good reason not to do my best to prevent it.  If you are a parent, you know that the simple act of breathing can induce a sense of parental guilt so no matter what I do, I’ll feel guilty.  Think I’ll take the cautious route.  You also know that most kids can eat their weight in fruit so if they are eating the fruits on the Dirty Dozen list, this could be a problem.  Personally, it comes down to doing my part to minimize the impact on their developing bodies and controlling the things I am able to.

 

Related Post: 3 Ways to Reduce Chemical Exposure In Your Home

What Does The Science Say

The science says a lot, of contradictory things.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear to provide a conclusive answer.  You will find any number of articles that say organic produce is more nutritious and is much better for you but there are the same number of articles that say the opposite.  It all depends on who you ask and what study they are referring to.  The only thing that does seem to have a concrete answer is that organic is better for the soil and for the environment.  Honestly, that might just be good enough for me.

 

What About a CSA?

Fresh Produce from CSA

A friend and I share a Share at a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) not far from my house.  If you’re not familiar with CSA’s, the concept is that you purchase a “share” of what the farm produces for the season. The one I belong to has several growing seasons during the year and you pay for your Share ahead of time. The farm is open one day a week for you to go pick up your “share” for the week. CSA’s offer such a wonderful opportunity to get the freshest locally grown produce that you may have never known existed.  Not to mention knowing the farmer who is growing your food. You are able to ask any questions about their farming practices and what to do with the produce you receive. We have been CSA share holders for probably about 5 years and just love it. Sure, some years are better than others, if Mother Nature doesn’t cooperate, the crop yield may not be as great.  However, when Mother Nature cooperates, you could wind up with more eggplant than you know what to do with, as happened to us one year. It’s such a great way to try produce you wouldn’t otherwise choose at the store and most farmers respect the land and use sustainable farming practices.  To find a CSA in your area, click here.

 

Farmer’s Markets

Choose Organic Farmers Market

Farmer’s Markets offer a great option for fresh, local produce as well.  They are quite popular here in the Atlanta area and in many areas throughut the country.  The offerings can be quite similiar to what you’ll find at the CSA, just with a wider selection to choose from.  In high school and during college summers, I worked at a farm market and it was probably my most favorite job I’ve had to date.  I think that’s where my love of fresh produce first developed.  There was nothing quite like the smell of fresh peaches that screamed summer to me.  Farmers Markets offer a great opportunity for discounted produce.  If you go close to closing time, many of the farmers don’t want to take home anything so they’ll sell what they still have at a discounted rate.  It’s not a guarantee but it’s highly likely.  To find a Farmers Market in your area, click here.

 

Finding A Balance

Though the research seems even more divided as to whether conventional pesticides are harmful or potentially cancer causing, my purchasing decisions remain pretty much the same.  I do not buy the organic variety of each and every piece of produce we consume, my wallet simply cannot afford it.  We all know that our health is better when we eat a rainbow and many will say you can either pay the farmer or pay the doctor, the choice is yours.  If you are concerned about the amount of pesticides on the produce you consume, there are several options and they can be married together.  Review what you and your family are consuming, compare that to the Dirty Dozen list and make a plan from there.  If you don’t eat any of the fruits and vegetables on that list, you may not need to worry about pesticides on your food.  If the produce on the list is all you and your kids consume, you can try to switch up your diet, slowly move towards locally grown or organic or only buy when things are on sale.  When I shop at the grocery store, I stick to the Dirty Dozen list.  I don’t worry about the produce I get from our CSA farm because my friendly farmer is already practicing organic farming.  Thankfully, it’s not all or nothing.

 

What’s your favorite fruit and/or vegetable?  Do you have a favorite recipe?  I’d love to try it out.

 

Heather

 

 

 

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13 thoughts on “Why I Will Always Choose Organic Produce

  1. I completely agree with organic food, I actually tend to get stomach aches if I eat non organic produce, probably because of the wax and sprays on them! I totally am going to try to find a CSA in my area, it’s a wonderful concept 😊

    1. That’s no good. Guess your body is telling you it’s a no go. Good luck finding a CSA. It’s such a fun experience.

  2. LOVE your perspective on this. This is the exact reason Be Pure Beauty was founded – to provide options for completely safe, natural, nontoxic beauty! Thanks to the voices of conscious consumers and content creators like you, this movement is spreading and more and more people are coming to the understanding that natural and organic are the right choice for our health and our planet! Thanks for using your platform to spread this important message!

    1. Thanks for stopping by. I’m not familiar with Pure Beauty, I’ll have to check it out. Anything that’s good for our health and the health of our planet gets my attention.

    1. Thanks so much! Beets are definitely one vegetable I found a love for after receiving them in my CSA share. I love them roasted and then put in a salad with goat cheese and walnuts….YUM!

  3. Thanks for breaking down such a complex subject! There’s so much conflicting research/expert opinions, it can be hard to know who to believe. However, I definitely try to get produce from farmer’s markets and local stores as often as possible. And I think that, if you can afford it, buying at least some of the more at risk produce organically is a good choice. My favorite fruit is probably strawberries at the moment. Love putting them in smoothies!

    1. Thanks Casey! Labeling laws definitely make things so much harder. Shopping farmer’s markets is such a fun experience as is going to my CSA, I can see why most people dread the grocery store.

  4. Great read! Thank you for providing the link to local CSAs. I keep saying that I’m going to join one, then put it off and put it off. This is a good nudge in the right direction for me.

    1. Thanks Amy! I know how you feel, I have so many things on my “to check out” list, it’s always nice when something pushes me in the direction of actually doing it.

  5. Well researched and informative! Sorry you had to discover organic the hard way, but glad to hear you are a survivor:)

    One great way to save on organics is if your local produce store sells “imperfect” produce which can’t be sold at a premium due to blemishes, etc. Things such as avocados and fruit can be typically had for a bargain, and the one I used to shop in (The Berkeley Bowl in Berkeley, Ca) gave the option of ‘premium’ or ‘not-so-premium’ produce, all of which was of comparable quality once you got past appearance.

    Plus, when I see something like price reduced kale due to some bug-chompings on the leaves, I KNOW that it has been grown without pesticides:)!

    Thanks again for a great post!

    1. Thanks Scot! It’s funny you mention the bug chompings, I’m so used to see those in the produce I get from the CSA I belong to, when I shop at the grocery store for greens, I miss those ‘signs’ of mother nature.

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