Ask Your Food A Question.
By Nikki Milton, Board Member
I have a Question…
Q: Is eating Organic ‘really’ too expensive?
A: It depends.
Q: Depends on what?
A: It depends on your definition of the word ‘expense’ and what you are relating it to.
It’s been a weird two weeks for me. (this article was written the last week in January, 2020) Last week, the local paper described how six (6) of my city’s nineteen (19) water wells exceed water quality standards for man-made Perfluoroalkyl substances, and the aggregate impact of these substances are unknown. Also, this week, a CNN article stated that, per the FDA, seven (7) common sunscreen chemicals enter the bloodstream after only one use. Yesterday, I learned that a common herbicide which is linked to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is typically applied immediately prior to harvest because it causes produce to quickly ripen. I’m unnerved by these announcements related to products that I either consume or apply on a daily basis, but what can I do about it. It is what it is, right?. How long have I been exposed to such chemicals, what have these chemicals done to me, and what will happen to me in the future even if I stop using these products at this very moment? The answers: ‘unknown’ and ‘it depends’.
Q: 'Unknown' and 'it depends' are unacceptable responses, in my opinion. What are my options here?
A: Options include:
1) Do nothing and hope for the best outcome for you and your family.
2) Choose to become more active in your product and food item choices.
Personally, I used to be in the ‘Do nothing and hope’ club, but then the scientist in me became too curious and I conducted several simple in-kitchen experiments on fruits and vegetables. All I can say is that it is simply amazing how much stuff comes off a seemingly perfectly clean looking piece of non-organic fruit. If you are curious, I encourage you to conduct your own experiments. My experiments concluded with a vow that I wanted to know how my produce was grown. I wanted to know that the food that I was buying, cooking, and serving my family was good quality; that it wasn’t going to harm them. I did not want to be surprised. Because of this, I started making conscious choices whenever I went grocery shopping. Everything on my grocery list wasn’t organic (and still isn’t) but several items were and this was a step in the right direction toward my own active participation in my health. I started to understand that I had a choice … support the local farmer who grows organic greens AND ensure that my family is eating healthy non-harmful greens by supporting that farmer OR do nothing and hope that somebody else is looking out for my family to make sure that the products we use and the produce we eat aren’t going to hurt us. I want you to know that you have a choice.
Relatively speaking, is organic too expensive? Let’s see those data points!
If an apple has a $1 price tag on it, how much of that $1 represents the actual fruit quality as compared to the chemical processing of the fruit? Let’s say the answer is 50 cents. If 50 cents is required for herbicide and wax application, then the buyer is paying $1 for an apple that costs 50 cents. The remaining 50 cents would be paying for the application of chemicals (which are untraceable by the individual who will be eating the apple). I want you to know that you have a choice.
Average Price of Common Food Items
Conventional: $0.57/pound Organic: $0.89/pound
Conventional: $2.53/gallon Organic: $4.76/gallon
Conventional: $2.99/dozen Organic: $4.79/dozen
Conventional:$2.66/pound Organic: $2.90/pound (Average size of a loaf)
Did you know?
Organic milk contains approx. twice the level of heart healthy omega 3 fats compared to conventional milk.
Conventional chicken and pork are 33% more likely to contain bacteria resistant to 3 or more antibiotics than organic poultry/pork.
Only 27% of ingredients found in conventional breads are nutritionally beneficial, compared to more than 60% of ingredients found in organic bread.
Eating organic produce can increase your antioxidant intake by approx. 30% over conventionally grown produce.
Q: So, when should you spend the extra dollars and when can you skip it?
A: That answer is entirely up to you. But, there are a few handy lists put out by the Environmental Working (EWG) group that can be helpful when making your decisions.
Dirty Dozen - These are a great place to choose organic because of the nature of the food and the practices used to produce it tend to mean that more pesticides and herbicides are left on the food when it reaches the consumer.
Clean Fifteen - These items are less likely to carry pesticides and herbicides to the consumer, so if you're looking for a place to wrangle your budget, start here.
(2020,1). Benefits of Organic Diet Researchomatic. Retrieved 1, 2020, from https://www.researchomatic.com/Benefitis-Of-Organic-Diet-149349.html