Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Why I don't eat organic produce

Note: I would like preface this post with the fact that this is my opinion.  I do not believe that everyone should think the way I do or make the same decisions that I make. I believe that everyone should do what they think is best for them and their family.  Since this is a running blog and fueling is an important part of running, I wanted to discuss and see what others opinions were.

Running is a high priority in my life. I plan my days and weeks around running. But in order to run far and fast I need to eat. I have always been a healthy eater (thanks to my mom) but I never really looked into what exactly I was eating.  My mom would buy the food when I was growing up and I learned from her how to buy what I needed for meals and use what I had bought, not letting too much go to waste.

My mom taught me to be a budget grocery shopper. I take pride that I can feed Brian and I with weekly breakfast, lunch and dinners and not spend a fortune.  Each week I buy what we need and really try to stay close to buying what is on my list. And then we usually eat what I buy and if we don't, I freeze it for later.

On my grocery list each week is always a few things - A few (produce) staples that I always buy (depending on season).

Oranges and grapes (spring/summer)
spinach (summer)
tomatoes (spring/summer/fall)
brussel sprouts
lettuce and fixings (summer)
apples (fall)
Blueberries/strawberries (summer)

I try to buy fruits and vegetables that are in season.  Only if Brian requests something out of season will I buy it because often I don't want to spend the extra money.

And that is also one of the reasons I don't buy organic fruits and vegetables.  I can't bring myself to pay more for a fruit or vegetable just because it says organic. And just because it says organic - I really have no idea where that fruit or vegetable comes from or what exactly organic means for the farm producing the products.

That doesn't mean I don't buy organic. In fact I buy this big container of organic spinach because it is in fact cheaper than any other container of spinach at the store. And that spinach really seems to last a long time in the fridge. I also bought organic carrots a few weeks ago because the grocery store was out of regular carrots.  And I needed carrots - I was making carrot cake for Easter.

 I do frequent my local farmers market from May through October and buy local whenever I can. I support local farms but in all honesty I have no idea what kind of practices my local farms have. I always wash my fruits or vegetables before eating them in order to wash anything that may be on the surface but beside that I just eat it.  I am also lucky to have a great grocery store which often supplies its stores with locally grown produce. In fact - my grocery store also tries to help educate shoppers as to what fruits and vegetables are in season.

Part of me wonders about all these people choosing to buy organic - what did they eat growing up? I highly doubt that the previous generations (including my own) grew up eating Organic produce.  I certainly did not eat organic - I was raised on the very similar fruits and vegetables that I buy weekly, from the same grocery store in fact.   Do you think starting to eat organic food now at age 20 or 30 or 40 will somehow make your body better and take away from all that you ate or drank while you were young?  What about all that alcohol you drank in college? Will eating organic reverse any damage you did then?

My point in all this is that I personally believe that eating organic isn't worth it.  Who knows what "organic" really means or what "organic" pesticides are put onto organic produce.  I haven't done a lot of research on this subject (because I know there is a ton) but from what I have heard, apparently organic pesticides aren't that great for you either.

I just wonder what the generation of today's children will have to deal with when they have been raised on organic produce and years and years later we finally find out the harmful effects of something.  And I don't think that eating organic or not eating organic can specifically be linked to any diseases. There are so many different factors to weigh and so many different possibilities - everyone is different.  There is no real way to know what will happen when we are older based on what we eat right now.

And I could go on and on, but I wont.  Its a tough subject and there really is no wrong or right answer. Its basically just what is right for you and that is all that matters.  I have many friends and family who eat organic and that's the choice they make. I don't judge them or think they are wrong. And I hope they don't judge me or think I am wrong for my choices.

For further reading on this topic, I suggest reading this article or reading about this study.

Do you buy organic? Why or why not?


Christy @ My Dirt Road Anthem: A Runner's Blog said...

I am so with you. just wash it before you eat it

Unknown said...

Great post Jo, with some great points. There is so much research out there, but I don't have the time to go through it all. Like you said though, what did generations before us do?

I do buy some organic things, but for different reasons. I love some of the items Wegmans has in the Nature's market organic section, but it has to do more with the nutrition and taste rather than the label of organic. One produce item I ALWAYS buy organic is spinach, I read a few articles about the importance of this and it kind of stuck with me. Good news is, that's not a gigantic (if any) price difference.

Elizabeth @ livingrunningcooking said...

My husband is 100% with you on organic eating. He doesn't think it is worth the extra money. I am slightly indifferent. For the most part, we do not buy organic stuff because of the cost. There are a few things (milk mainly) that we buy organic because it lasts longer and tastes better. I think it is a personal choice and people do things for all sorts of reasons. For us, we want to eat fresh foods and the best way for us to afford it is to not buy organic.

rungirl24 said...

I buy the "dirty dozen" of produce organic. I have small children and that motivates more to make sure they are ingesting as little pesticides as possible. I am more concerned about genetically modified foods. My two kids have severe food allergies most parents I know have a kid with at least one food allergy. There has to be a reason why all these kids are suddenly allergic to foods when our generation and our parents generation are not. I believe it has to do with farming practices, pesticide use and genetic modification. I have done a lot of research into the food industry in our country and much of what I have found is sad and scary. We buy organic and local as much as possible, but for us it is worth the cost knowing what we do. Michael Pollan and Mark Bittman are great authors who speak to the issues of the food industry in America if you are interested.

RunToTheFinish said...

I think having had a number of health issues I'm more cautious with the dirty dozen. I have also found that the taste of some organic like apples is so superior I can't eat the other one's any longer because the wax is overwhelming.

it's definitely a personal decision, but I think we have had a rise in all kinds of health issues in conjunction with eating more chemicals. So I'll probably keep to a split of some organic, and as much local as possible.

Erica Gorman said...

I completely see where you are coming from and do the same. The idea of organic sounds nice. Why wouldn't it? Cleaner foods are not bad. But when it comes down to it, I have to stay focused on the budget and ours is tight. Buying organic would be buying less food and with two runners in the house and a 5-year old, having good healthy food nicely stocked is important. And yes, if the organic happens to be cheaper, which is the case at Costco at times, I get it. If not, I don't worry about it. I wash and go!

I feel eating more fresh foods and less processed foods is more important to me than eating more organic freggies. I tend to worry more about preservatives, added sugars, fake sugars, food dyes, etc. in foods. But that is my opinion.

Anonymous said...

I can take it or leave it with organic. I am on a tight budget so I have to be careful. Now..genetically modified foods scare the shit out of me!

Elizabeth said...

Great topic! I tend to agree with you and only buy organic if the normal stuff doesn't look good or is out of stock. My sister is an expert on this type of thing and says there are "dirty" fruits and vegetables and "clean" ones. And that the dirty ones use more pesticides, so for those she buys organic. For the clean ones, she buys regular.

Amber said...

I really struggle with organic because I don't like paying more money. I am a pretty frugal person.

HOWEVER, I do prefer to buy local whenever possible. I shop at the Farmers Market in the summer and my grocery store has little signs saying where produce is from and I try really hard to stick to produce from Canada or the USA. Once there were Oranges from South Africa and I didn't buy them because I don't need oranges shipped all the way from freaking South Africa!!! I think following the "100 mile diet" would be more beneficial to our health than eating organic, but that's just me!

The Many Thoughts of a Reader said...

I buy what is on sale. Occasionally it is organic, and like you said when the organic spinach is cheaper I buy it and it does last longer, which is wierd to me ha. I don't go out of my way to buy organic, even the dirty dozen. My child nor myself nor my husband has any food allergies and we eat a lot of fruits and veggies. Clean them and you're good. My honest to goodness first thought reading your title was, "because poop is gross and i dont need to look down my nose and say i buy allllllll organic." yeah, i know those people.

Lisa from Lisa's Yarns said...

I am not an organic produce buyer in general, either. I will if it is on sale or reasonably priced. I am like Amber, though, and I do try to buy local at farmer's markets when it is possible. But for me, I can't justify the cost of buying exclusively organic.

Joanne said...

We don't eat organic for much the same reason but quite honestly, I shop once a week. I've found when I try buying organic produce, it goes back by mid week. Maybe it's our area but the stores just don't get it fresh enough to keep organic foods.