by Megan White
FOOD. FOOD. FOOD. FOOD. FOOD. FOOD. FOOD. We need food to survive so where do we go to get it? There are many options as to where we can purchase food. Food is practically on every corner and everywhere we look. Yet, the most common place we buy food, other than a restaurant, is…wait for it…the grocery store. I know, what a shocker.
The grocery store is one of those places that, either you love it or you send someone else to do the dirty work, which is perfectly understandable because sometimes it can be overwhelming. There are so many options to choose from.
When entering the grocery store typically the first things that we see is a beautiful display of brightly colored produce. Every square inch of the store is filled with such a wide variety of packaged foods. So many options to choose from how do we know what to buy. For each individual the decision is different but for most people, part of the equation is be based on the cost of food. For others, purchasing food is decided based on how healthy it is.
What Does Organic Mean?
The demand for Organic food is rising and so are the questions about our food. What does organic food mean? Organic food is grown or raised using strict codes starting with the soil all the way to packaging. The farmers are not allowed to use any synthetic pesticides, chemical fertilizers or genetically modified organisms. To be labeled organic the food must contain at least 95% organic ingredients. Dairy that is organic must be from an animal that has been fed for at least 12 months an all organic diet and must not be given any hormones or antibiotics. These strict codes are not only better for the environment but they are more humane for the animals and the consumers health as well.
Why Buy Organic?
Organic food is not laced with synthetic chemicals and poisons that you ingest into your body. These pesticides and other poisons that are coated on conventional foods to kill animals and pests are causing major health problems such as cancer and reproductive disorders.
Other health problems and even early puberty in children are directly linked to the hormones and antibiotic filled animals especially in cows and chickens. Dairy cows are injected with a potent chemical hormone called rBGH. This hormone is injected into the cows to increase milk production. Not only does rBGH increase milk production but it also increases the cows chances of an udder infection. To solve the side effect of an udder infection the cows are injected with antibiotics which are then passed on and injested by everyone who eats dairy products. This is not a good thing for us to injest because rGBH has been showed in studies to cause breast cancer, prostate cancer, and colon cancer. What a wonderful thought.
Another health issue is caused by the unsanitary conditions in the industrial slaughter houses as well as the factory farms. In 1998, packaged chicken from the stores were tested and the results showed that over 70% of the chicken was contaminated with either Salmonella, Campylobacter, or both. The unsanitary conditions cause the meat to have much higher levels of contamination resulting in food related illnesses which every year are responsible for 5,000 deaths annually. For myself this is another reason to eat organic foods.
An Apple A Day Keeps The Doctor Away?
Really how much more expensive is eating Organic? That all depends on how you look at it. If eating Organic foods gives you better health than no it is not more costly because the visits to the doctor are cut down. That means less money spent on health problems.
As far as actual price differences go there is not much of a difference. I have been comparing prices at my local Publix. Depending on what you buy the cost differences fluctuate between a few dimes to a few bucks. Fruits and vegetables are not much more expensive-about a buck more. I ended up finding a three pound bag of Organic Apples for under six bucks. That is a great deal especially since apples are the most poisoned fruit this year. As far as other items it just depends on what brand you get.
Most of us are on a budget. Being a college student myself I am learning all of the tricks to help stretch my budget and eat healthy. I have found that not everything in the produce section needs to be organic. There is a list that the Environmental Working Group posts with the top twelve most poisoned fruits and vegetables. These are the most important items to buy in the organic section:
8. Bell Peppers
12. Collard Greens/Kale
A good rule of thumb to keep in mind is if it has a soft or edible skin go Organic. There are a few items with a soft skin that are the least contaminated and fine to purchase conventionally:
7. Sweet Potatoes
Using common sense is a must when on a budget. So it shopping around and finding the best deals. Look at your local Farmer’s Market where the seasonal produce is super fresh and usually less expensive. Coupons are also helpful. The internet has many different web pages dedicated to coupons that are easy to print off at home. Another helpful hint is to buy organic store-brand products because they tend to be less expensive. Do not forget to look at the international food aisles because there are many organic and inexpensive healthy options.
Organic food is not just better for our health it is better for the environment and the animals as well. Why should we alter what was created. Food fuels our bodies and not only effects our daily lives but the health of our future. Why not spend an extra buck on Organic Milk instead of hamburger. The small changes and choices we make in our lives are just the beginning in building a better future for ourselves and our families. Best of luck on your journey to a happier life.
Cummins, Roz. “In Which We Attempt to Calculate How Much an Organic Feast
Would Cost.” Grist. 09 January 2008.Online.18 October 2011.
McLendon, Russell.”Is Organic Food Worth The Cost?” CNN.14 April
2011.MNN.com.1 October 2011.