As I wrote in an earlier blog post, I began eating organic food when I was pregnant, because I wanted to know what I was putting in my body. At that time I switched to organic milk and eggs and some fruits and vegetables. Last week, Roger Cohen, of the NY Times, wrote a piece entitled “The Organic Fable” that pretty much said those of us who believed in eating organic are among other things, upper middle class, narcisstic and elitist. I don’t consider myself any of those things, and I know many people who are trying to figure out how to eat healthy, good, nutritious food without breaking the bank. Wanting to give your children good food DOES NOT make you elitist or narcisstic.
source: Environmental Working Group
After reading his article, I was just annoyed (as you can probably already tell!) First of all, he makes assumptions about the kind of people that are buying organic food. Second, he dismisses its potential health benefits (we can thank the recently released Stanford Study.) But neither Mr. Cohen nor Stanford have convinced me. I do not believe that vegetables and fruits that have been cultivated in soil free of pesticides are the same as those who have not. It seems very simple to me, there’s a piece of land that has been sprayed with pesticides, there’s another piece of land free of pesticides. The fruit on the former grows with residue, and the latter grows free of pesticide residue. The purpose of pesticides is to kill off bugs, insects, fungi, etc. The EPA calls some household cleaning products “pesticides” so, it may be easy to think of it this way: if I had two apples on my counter, and I sprayed one with a disinfectant and the other one was not sprayed… which one would I want to eat (or give my child)? While the amount of pesticides found in one conventional apple will not kill me, it is the accumulated amounts which I believe are harmful… so no, it may not a problem now, but when i am older and more frail, and my body isn’t working as it used to, well all that pesticide residue probably will have some effect on my health… simply put I don’t want to take a chance. Perhaps you are wondering why studies don’t show that there is a link now, well… it may just be too soon to tell. But until a study exists that does confirm it, I will just do what I can to avoid pesticides when possible.
I just want to clarify, I am not a 100% organic mommy. I simply can’t be because right now it is too expensive. But, aside from the cost, I think that I would not have given my son only organic products because the outside world, outside my home, is not an organic world. I am afraid that if Baby E is not exposed to some nonorganic products in my home, how will he react to them when he goes out in the world full of chemicals and other non natural ingredients? So while I do organic milk and organic eggs, most meat and some fruits and veggies (I try to stick to the dirty dozen) my son will eat some things that are not organic, such as beans, rice, polenta, oatmeal, some cereals, chicken.
If you are thinking of going organic, I would recommend looking at the list above, the Dirty Dozen, and doing your homework: check out what stores around your area have more affordable organic produce. Buying in season helps a lot too! I usually purchase frozen organic produce because it is cheaper, and because it doesn’t spoil! (awful when you spend all this money on good organic food and it goes bad!) Don’t stress out if you cannot do a lot of organic, something is better than nothing! Another tip is to check out farmers’ markets. Many times their produce is not labeled organic, however, their methods of farming are pesticide and hormone free. (it is expensive to get certification, which is why some small farms don’t do it.) Speak to farmers to get a sense of how they farm. I feel that local farmers who tend the land directly, have a connection to it, so they care about what they are producing; their farms are not big agro-business affairs.
If you are interested in supporting small, organic companies and want to know what organic companies are owned by Big Food, and what companies support GMOs, check out this article from the Organic Consumers Association.