Monday, May 4, 2009

Why Choose Organic?


There is a multitude of information out there on organic food. Really, there's nothing "new" about organic food itself... it's the way human beings have been growing for thousands of years, up until recent history.

For our family, it all started when we decided to have a baby. Like many techie moms, I spent hours researching online about the best things for baby's development. We decided I would try to breastfeed (which we successfully did for 17 months :) ). Reading about breastfeeding soon led to choosing the best foods for pregnant and nursing moms. The best foods led to topics about organic food; especially when it came to baby's transition to solids.

Organic food isn't just about not using pesticides. It's rooted in the farmers, and their appreciation of the land and soil. Healthy soil means healthy plants. Organic farmers nurture their soil, and instead of becoming depleted over time, it becomes even healthier; passing on the nutrients to the food we eventually eat. Supporting organic farmers means we're keeping harmful pesticides and fertilizer run-off from entering our environment.

Choosing organic food doesn't have to be expensive. For our family, living on a small island in the Florida Keys, our stores typically carry much less than the stores on the mainland, and that remains true for organic produce as well. The prices are sometimes very prohibitive, and the freshness and quality aren't always there. Thankfully, there are more and more options out there, other than the grocery store. If you're fortunate enough to live near a farmers' market, that is a fantastic way to get the freshest possible produce, and as you're buying direct from the farmers, the prices are more affordable. Other options for obtaining farm-fresh produce include joining CSAs (Community-Supported Agriculture), food co-ops, or buying clubs.

We're very happy that we have access to an organic buying club that comes down to our area. We participate in a full share with our buying club, which means we chip in $45 a week, along with hundreds of other members of the same club. This money is pooled together by the club coordinators, and used to buy organic produce direct from wholesalers in huge quantities. This produce is then distributed equally by volunteers to all of the club members. For us, this means that we pick up a 30+ pound box of a lovely variety of organic produce once a week. This is a great value; especially considering that we could never get this kind of freshness or variety with such a great price at our regular stores.

Like with all changes, they can start incrementally. If you're not ready to devote yourself to 30 pounds of organic produce every week, Earthbound Farm does have a great guide on how to selectively choose certain vegetables and fruits, which are typically very heavily sprayed when grown conventionally. A link to this guide is available in our "Green Living Links" section. Many experts out there recommend that you choose organic when it comes to things that you eat the most. For us, we began with things my daughter loved to eat: apples, grapes, carrots. We then switched to organic milk, and then organic eggs. I'm also a big fan of Stonyfield Farm organic yogurt, and as a Asian girl, I love organic soy milk. Pretty soon, we were choosing organic whenever the option was available (and affordable). It all begins, however, with that first step :)


Photo courtesy of Earthbound Farm.

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