Is Organic Food Really Better?

Why You Should Strongly Consider Eating Organic Food

Is Organic Food Really Better?
Is Organic Food Really Better?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*** We are not health experts or doctors.  All opinions and experiences stated here are our own, and we are not responsible for any conclusions you may come to as a result of this article.

There’s much debate in Internet land about whether or not organic food is really that much different or better than it’s mainstream counterpart.  One search of the web and you’ll find a myriad of stories, studies and articles, both about why organic food is so much better, and also about how pesticides don’t really hurt you much at all.

I first started my study on diet vs. health in the year 2001.  When I had Maddie near the end of 1999, it was a dangerous and traumatic birth, and both of us nearly died.  However, nearly a year and a half after her birth, I was still experiencing debilitating physical symptoms that kept me mostly bedridden for the first year and a half of her life.  I hated it.  We had tried for years to have a child, and now that we had one, I couldn’t even play with her.  I couldn’t care for our house.  I would sit and dream about how awesome it would be to vacuum the house or wash the windows.  It’s only when you literally can’t do these things that you realize what a blessing they are.  I went to our family doctor numerous times with my complaints of severe joint and muscle pain, fatigue, and a list of roughly 25 other symptoms, but all the tests turned out negative and I was repeatedly told “there’s nothing wrong with you.”  Obviously, something was wrong if I could barely function.  I’d force myself to complete my 4-hour workday from home and then collapse on the couch, unable to do anything for the rest of the day.  It was horrible.

Finally, I took the drastic step of eliminating everything from my diet except for organic fruits and vegetables, organic lean meats, and organic nuts.  I also took a health supplement that came highly recommended by a family friend.

Within 30 days, 80% of my symptoms had disappeared.

From that time on, I’ve experimented on and off with eliminating certain things from my diet.  For instance, I can assure you that if I eat white flour or sugar for too many days in a row, more than one or two, I’ll become bloated, irritable and fatigued.

Then this past fall, Maddie started experiencing gastrointestinal problems.  Severe cramping and other symptoms that mimicked what I’d read about gluten intolerance.  After urging Maddie to stop eating white flour for several months, the symptoms became too unbearable and she finally gave in to a flour-free diet, but she hated it.  Feeling badly for her, I emailed my awesome chiropractor about what the causes of gluten intolerance are.  After all, gluten intolerance is a relatively new phenomenon, and most of our diseases and disorders are nutrition or environmentally related.

His answer?  There’s no such animal as gluten intolerance.  The symptoms of “gluten intolerance” are, in fact, simply a result of Mosanto’s Roundup, which is sprayed on nearly all wheat crops in the U.S.

Now, I’m a skeptic at heart, and I don’t believe anything anyone says about this kind of stuff without doing my own testing and research.  Not even my trustworthy chiropractor, who has spent 4 decades researching health issues and their causes, and working to heal people naturally.

After finding articles that backed up his claim, we went to the store and purchased our first bag of organic flour and sugar.  I wanted to test his theory.  I made something gooey and delicious, like cookies, and fed them to Maddie, and to myself, since white flour always makes me bloated and irritable.

Hmm, no gastrointestinal problems for Maddie, and no bloating or irritability for me!!  We finished off that bag of flour within a two-week period, purposely making a myriad of baked goods to force the issue, but the problems never surfaced.

Intrigued, I now wanted to test the theory with organic pasta.  Those of you who buy organic pasta know that it is three to four times more expensive – at least – than non-organic pasta.  I was worried about how this would affect our food budget, but then, by the grace of God, I found a “loophole.”  I was casually talking with my sis-in-law about our issues, when she mentioned that she buys her pasta at Trader Joe’s.  Not only is Trader Joe’s pasta cheap (99 cents for a 16oz. container) but it is produced in Italy and not in the U.S.  Why, you may ask, is this so important?  Because Roundup and most other pesticides are banned and illegal in Italy, as well as in many other foreign countries, and as such, is pretty much the same thing as buying organic pasta!  WOOHOO!!

We stopped at Trader Joe’s, picked up a few packages of their pasta, and did another two-week experiment.  Again, no GI issues for Maddie or for me!!  And you know what else?  I didn’t find myself craving and gorging myself on the Italy-produced pasta like I did on regular pasta!!!  I had a little bowl of whatever, and was done!! Maybe the addiction that white flour products like bread and pasta hold isn’t about the wheat itself, but about what we in the U.S. are putting on it!!  And can this be a key as to why the obesity rate of U.S. citizens is so astronomically higher than it is in other countries, even in European countries like France, Italy and England, where they love their food just as much as we do?

As I went to research for this article, I tried to look at both sides of the story.  I found articles such as this one that insist that the pesticides sprayed on our crops really aren’t that bad.

I also found articles supporting the fears about pesticides.  This article on Wikipedia gives an in-depth look at the sprawling list of health problems attributed to pesticides on our food, and it ain’t pretty.   While some articles seem to want to remain neutral on the subject, others give compelling reasons about why organic foods are scores better, not just for our bodies, but for our environment as well.   This particular article focuses specifically on Roundup and the dangers associated with it.   And this article explains the amazing and stunning difference between grass-fed beef that is not fed antibiotics or hormones, and commercially sold beef.

Now, I realize that, among all the research and rhetoric, a big concern about buying organic vs. non-organic veggies and meat is the issue of money.  However, there are ways to get organically grown meat and produce on the cheap.  Some ideas?

1.  Grow Your Own.  Even if you have a small yard or simply a balcony, put your most-consumed plants, such as lettuce and tomatoes, in a pot or in your yard and grow them yourself.  It’s not only cheap, the taste of organic food will amaze you!

2.  Head to the Farmer’s Market.  Lots of great organic choices abound at Farmer’s Markets, and you can also get more info on where to buy organic in your area.

3.  Join a Community Garden.  Nearly all areas have community gardens or CSA’s.  Check out this website for more info.

4.  Cut out the Junk.  You’ll have more money in your grocery budget for organic foods if you stop buying the chips, pop and processed foods.

5.  Get your beef from the butcher.  Our beef farmer raises grass-fed, organic beef with no antibiotic or hormone usage.  Yes, you do have to spend a lot more at the outset, and you do need a deep freezer, but the meat we get from them costs roughly $3.50 a pound, which is the same price as the poor quality meat at the grocery store!

You may or may not believe the “hype” about the dangers of pesticides on our food, but even common sense dictates that our bodies were never made to ingest chemicals of any kind.  We encourage you to do your research thoroughly before casting your consideration of organic foods to the wayside.  No amount of money savings is worth your life.

75 comments

  1. We just planted our first organic garden and it’s going well so far. I typically buy organic at the store even though it costs more, but I hope that growing some of our own food will help.

      • jim says:

        Laurie,
        I wrote to you last fall re: the rabbits that have ravaged our veggie garden for the past 3 years – and we tried everything (short of of a chicken wire fence – which my wife refuses to do due to the hassle factor).

        Here’s an update for all you organic growers out there – freakin PINWHEELS – yes! Those shiny little pinwheels you played with as kids. Get the most metallic, sun-reflecting ones you can get. We just put those in our veggie garden and I’ll be – but they seem to work. We’ve only seen one rabbit in our yard and it wouldn’t even go close to the veggie garden. We have them facing all directions and they appear to be working. Apparently, rabbits don’t like the motion and it also appears that the sun dancing off those pinwheels makes them want to run in the opposite direction. Good! I want fresh, organic veggies this summer.

        Hope this helps.

        • Laurie says:

          Jim, that is hilarious!!!!! I wonder if it will work with our barn cats, LOL. 🙂 I will be sure to spread the word regarding this. Thanks for sharing!!!

  2. Wow, I had no idea about all of this Laurie…that is your personal part. 🙂 As you know, we’ve been changing a lot of how we’ve been eating over the past six months or so and the changes are amazing. We’ve always gardened, but we’ve brought in so much more organic food that we can really tell a difference and Nicole also has mentioned she wants to start cooking with the same flour/sugar you mentioned. I know that many think it can’t be done on a budget, but it can. If we can do it then anyone can.

    • Laurie says:

      Yeah, it was pretty freaky. 🙂 So glad to hear you guys have learned and reaped the benefits of organic food too. It really does make a difference, IMHO. 🙂 I’d be curious to hear how things go when you switch to organic flour and sugar.

  3. Wow, great post! After recently reading an article about gluten sensitivity not existing this makes so much sense! I just wish making the lifestyle change to healthy/organic eating were easier. I’ve been struggling for years.

    • Laurie says:

      Kasey, you’ll struggle with cravings for three or four days, a week at the most, and then they’ll be done, and eating healthy will be fun because you’ll feel so great. Try it and see!

  4. A wonderful post Laurie! It is such an important topic and not many think about what they put in their bodies. It’s scary what might be in our food these days. I really need to learn more, and I hope to read more about what you’re doing. And as for your doctor who said there’s nothing wrong…sometimes I find western medicine frustrating. Too often they just treat the symptoms by giving out medication but don’t really look for the root cause of the problem. I know many people who don’t “believe” in chiropractors or naturopathic doctors but I think they can be knowledgeable too…not saying western/mainstream doctors are useless, just saying they both have their place.

    • Laurie says:

      “Sometimes I find Western medicine frustrating”. I couldn’t agree more, Andrew!! We still have a primary care doctor, but our chiro is now our “go to” guy for most every malady that comes our way, and I have to say that since we’ve started following his suggestions about how we treat our bodies, especially what we put into them, we are very rarely sick, and when we are, it’s short-lived. For someone who used to suffer from chronic sinus infections and a host of other health issues, being healthy is an awesome way to live!

  5. Great post Laurie!! It is definitely difficult to balance an organic lifestyle while controlling costs; however, the main area that I tell people they should NEVER cut costs are with their family’s health. Sometimes just changing diet can impact many other areas of your health and could actually save you money over time on meds, doctor visits, etc.

    • Laurie says:

      I totally agree, Shannon!! What you don’t spend in organic and healthy food, you’ll spend in doctor bills, that’s for sure. Eating whole foods goes a long way in impacting health. You’ve learned that first hand just as I have.

  6. Aaron says:

    Thanks for sharing more of your story on this Laurie. I knew a little bit about it. You know how much we’ve been affected by a more organic diet too – so there is definitely something to this growing trend. So glad you found this alternative!

    • Laurie says:

      You know, Aaron, I think of you often, as we are slowly switching to organic dairy as well, and it’s amazing how much of a difference it makes!! One of my bffs always had dairy allergies – until she switched to organic dairy, now it’s a non-issue. Amazing how much trouble these non-organic foods can cause!

  7. Caryl says:

    Great post! I think the dangers of glyphosate are going to become harder and harder to ignore. One suggestion: many people are recommending grass fed beef as a good alternative. While it is true that they cannot be fed grain, many of the larger grass fed producers will use roundup ready (glyposate-sprayed) crops in the feed – beet pulp waste, corn and soybean stubble, barley or wheat hay). And soon roundup ready alfalfa (which was recently approved) will become widely used in grass fed beef production. Before grass fed beef became trendy it was produced by “true believers” who were essentially organic and biodynamic. This is no longer the case. Look for certified organic grass fed beef, or ask your producer about what he feeds the cattle (specifically, corn stubble, bean stubble, wheat or barley hay, beet waste).

    • Laurie says:

      Ouch on the grass fed producers using rounup!!! We are lucky that we go with a small time local operation that does non of that. What a mess we are making of our food!

  8. Integritygirl says:

    This is so RIGHT ON!! Great, informative, helpful article and I agree with you 100% because of my own experience. I went from what I though was a healthy diet of conventional foods, to organic and it was a miracle. I awways enjoy your blog, but this topic is tops!!
    Thanks for writing!

    • Laurie says:

      Glad to hear you experienced good results too!!! It’s amazing how duped we all are into believing that pesticides are okay, isn’t it?

  9. Caryl says:

    Oh, I should add, be careful when non-certified producers use the term organic. Many of them consider themselves “organic” just because they don’t use antibiotics or hormones. True organic will address pesticides used on the animals (most commonly organophosphates and or ivermectins applied externally to control internal parasites), pesticides and herbicides (like glyphosate) used on the fields, water cleanliness, as well as biodiversity and wildlife on the farm. It is actually illegal to use the term organic unless one is certified.
    Keep up the good work- I enjoy your facebook page too.

    • Laurie says:

      Great addition, Caryl! Thanks for pointing that all out. So glad you are enjoying the work here – we’re thrilled to be helping others in this area and in the area of personal finance!

  10. I have this ongoing, nagging feeling that we ought to go this route. And that it may end up saving us big money over the long haul (e.g. – if it prevents just one major health event from occurring, does the 20% – 40% higher grocery bill seem cheap?)

    I appreciate these sort of case study examples, too, Laurie, as I trust them a bit more for some reason. I find too many conflicting reports on the health benefits on organic food to find a conclusive answer.

    • Laurie says:

      DB40, I believe this is your gut instinct. Get that garden going, my friend. The comments here too prove of some of the other case studies like ours with real people documenting the results.

    • Laurie says:

      The TJoe’s pasta was an awesome tip to me. Taste it and see the difference! It makes American pasta taste like cardboard.

  11. Thanks for sharing your experience Laurie. I can’t imagine being bedridden like that for so long! That would be miserable. I’m so glad you figured things out.

    The more I read about organic food, the more convinced I’m becoming convinced that chemicals in food are causing at least some of the problems with cancer, infertility, autism, ADHD, etc.

    We still eat wheat (grind it ourselves), but we grow most of our own produce and avoid most processed foods (besides peanut butter and a few others).

    • Laurie says:

      That’s the way to do it, Stephanie. Are you using organic wheat berries? I’d be curious to know if you find a difference in how you feel if you are using regular vs. organic wheat berries……

  12. Thank you for sharing your personal experience. Have you read “Wheat Belly”? I found it very interesting, though his point of view differs from yours somewhat. I’m still undecided on the whole issue of organic vs non-organic and even on gluten intolerance.

    • Laurie says:

      Hey, SHNM! I’ve heard of that, but have not read it, however, I can justify that wheat definitely makes me bloat almost immediately after eating it, although the organic stuff doesn’t. When you experience serious physical problems that disappear when you go to organic, you’ll be a believer. Maddie’s stomach cramps were so bad, she could only lay in bed all day when they came!

  13. We pay mainly organic foods. I do feel that they are better for us and being healthy is really important to me so I am willing to to put more money towards our grocery budget. And if push came to shove, which has in the past, there are other areas I would sacrifice first before eliminating organic foods. I do find it fascinating that Round-Up is legal here but banned in other countries. I’d be curious to know what the rate of “gluten intolerance” is in those countries or if it’s more of an issue here. Glad that you and Maddie are feeling better!

  14. Lizzy says:

    thank you for this great post. I notice that when I go to Sweden for two weeks in the summer, I actually lose weight while eating many more cakes and cookies as well as ice cream and cheese than I ever eat here. I also feel healthier, less bloated and have a lot fewer stomach aches than I do at home.

    It is really scary what we are doing to our food supply. I plan to join the local March against Monsanto this Saturday!!

    • Laurie says:

      Very interesting, Lizzy!!! We’ve never been out of the country, but I’ve heard lots of reports from others who have found the same. Good for you for joining the march – we as citizens have got to stand up for a safe and healthy food supply!

  15. I’m a big fan of organic foods. I even started a garden this year so that I could get them even cheaper than I would from the farmer’s market. I’m glad the organic food helped you overcome debilitating symptoms. I dream of having my first baby and I couldn’t imagine what it would be like to not be able to play with him or her. Kudos to you for overcoming adversity!

  16. I think whatever makes you feel best is the way to go! That’s for the great tips though…I had no idea about the TJ’s pasta but will FOR SURE buy that there since I’ve cut out so much pasta from my diet too. I think health trumps just about everything, so I’m willing to spend more if what I’m putting into my body is better for me and will help me live a longer, healthier life.

    • Laurie says:

      “Health trumps just about everything”. I agree, Tonya!! I do so much good, for so many more people, when I feel better. Keeping healthy and choosing to make wise food choices truly is important. 🙂

  17. When I lived in the Twin Cities, I used to drive by a Monsanto plant on my way home and it always stunk. I do find your chiropractor’s take on gluten intolerance very interesting. I’ve had some concerns about my gluten intake as well. I LOVE the loophole you find with TJ’s pasta! It’s been to long since I lived in MN and I can’t remember if there are World Market’s in the Cities but believe there are. They carry a lot of imported foods, and pretty reasonably priced too. Right now, I have not been eating a ton of organic food due to cost, but eventually I’d like to.

    • Laurie says:

      Oh my gosh, Tanya – I didn’t even know we had a Mosanto plant here!! We don’t have World’s Markets, that I know of, but have similar stores where it’s easy to find great organic food. In fact, I’m going to Costco this week, as a dear friend of mine found Organic flour AND butter there – for pretty cheap! Yay!!!

  18. Mackenzie says:

    This is such a timely post for me, Laurie! I’ve been going gluten-free because I was exhibiting the same symptoms as your daughter. Now you’ve got me wondering about the whole organic flour thing! I’m going to give it a shot 🙂

    • Laurie says:

      Let me know how it goes for you, Mackenzie!! If you guys have a Trader Joe’s there, definitely try their pasta and see how you do.

  19. Deb Tuszkiewicz says:

    Thank you for the great article. We have thought about going gluten free. You gave us something to think about. Organic may be the way to go. Thanks again.

  20. Brit says:

    Love this post. Tons of stuff that are banned in other countries for many reasons yet US refuses to. You are so right, Laurie. Look at the obesity rate in the Us vs other countries. Something has to change soon.

    • Laurie says:

      Isn’t it amazing, Britnee? Yet we continue to eat it like sheep heading to the slaughter. It frustrates me that all of this stuff is so hidden from the public.

  21. E.M. says:

    I have had my fair share of GI issues my whole life (and doctor’s could never tell me what was wrong). For the past year or so, I’ve been researching the Paleo diet, which promotes grass-fed beef, no grains, and mostly organic food. I’ve also heard of the Dirty Dozen list, which tells you which fruits and veggies you should absolutely get organic, and which ones are okay to eat as non-organic.

    I definitely do feel bloated after I eat sweets/baked goods, and pasta, so I’ve tried avoiding them for the most part. We actually just picked up some TJ’s pasta, so I’ll have to test that out. I haven’t purchased organic sugar, and I only have gluten-free flour. I’ve heard almond flour is great, but it is really expensive! I will have to try the organic sugar and flour, though, thanks! And I am so glad you and Maddie came out of everything okay =).

  22. My family just had grown organic garden. We were hoping for it to grow faster because it’s really nice feeling to grow your own food. We planted veggies because we do really like to eat them esp green leafy veggies.

    • Laurie says:

      That’s great that you’ve planted your own garden, Hannah! We just are putting ours into the ground this week, and I just cannot wait for the bounty of fresh fruits and veggies to appear. 🙂

  23. My father died of colon cancer and the doctor told us one of the reasons are the food that we intake. He was a diabetic too, so from then we really do watch our diet, we prefer to eat organic foods and lessen our meat intake.

    • Laurie says:

      So sorry to hear that, Marie, and your doc is right: food intake is huge in all areas of disease. Kudos to you and your family for taking your health into your own hands and choosing to eat healthier.

  24. You’ve clearly done your research! I’m glad that both you and Maddie are doing much better with organic foods. My wife and sister both have food-related sensitivities and the less preservatives and the more natural of foods they have, the better they feel. I still have a lot of processed and inorganic food, but slowly switching over to organic food is something I’ve definitely considered.

    • Laurie says:

      You should, DC, especially with your sinus issues. I had chronic sinus infections for years until I made the switch. Now I get them only if I have a long-term dance with processed and inorganic foods, like between Thanksgiving and New Years.

  25. Thanks for writing this article and about your experiences. My mom and I set off on this path years ago and now my bf is joining me. Being able to enjoy food that not only tastes good but also makes you feel good should be a top priority for every person. We have been able to do this by not only shopping at farmer’s markets but also by going to BJs which has organic in bulk now.

    • Laurie says:

      SO happy that you guys, too, have found such a difference in eating whole and organic foods, Amanda. Living proof that it really does make a difference!

  26. Interesting! Like, so interesting, I cannot even tell you. My family have severe dairy intolerances and so I try to avoid that as much as possible. And yet I still have tummy troubles. I cook good meals that I call “real food” (no crap laden with preservatives) and yet my fiancé says I say this after nearly every meal “my stomach hurts”. I’m not looking forward to the increase in the grocery bill, but I am definitely going to give it a try, because we’ve been dabbling in me removing gluten from my diet… but if it really is pesticides… well that’s way easier than getting rid of gluten!

    Disclaimer, the scientist in me needs to read a lot on this 🙂 But thanks for setting me off in this direction.

    • Oh, and I just saw your comment to DC… hmm, I have crazy sinus troubles as well. I’ve heard about taking probiotics to fix that up as well (again, I don’t have proof on that, so I have it on my “to research” list) 🙂

    • Laurie says:

      Alicia, spend a couple of weeks on a paleo type of a diet: veggies, fruits, raw nuts and lean, organic meats. Then add back in, one at a time, ORGANIC dairy and organic flour/sugar. See if you notice a difference and let me know!

  27. debt debs says:

    Such a dramatic impact the change of foods has made on you and your daughter’s health. So happy that you’ve experienced these great results. Thinking about all those chemicals on crops makes it not very surprising. The most important thing is that you feel well so you have to make your diet work for you, even if it means that you have to spend more on some things. Having your own veggies should help and that pinwheel idea from Jim is a keeper!

    • Laurie says:

      I know!! I am loving that pinwheel idea!!! Going to get some today instead of having Rick put up an electric fence, I think. 🙂

  28. We’ve been buying organic produce for our little ones, since they were born. But organic is really pricey here, so the kids get all the good stuff. It’s funny I was having a conversation about this topic with a fellow colleague. He has a gluten intolerance as well (possibly celiac), but when he was trying to explain that to his family in Italy, they’re all thinking, okay everything in moderation. Ha! Sure they have other health problems, but none of my family back there would even know what that is and I don’t know of anyone there that has any gluten intolerances. They’re probably frowned upon lol I don’t even know how you could survive there without gluten. And I think you’re right, a big part of it, is the stuff they spray on our wheat, not too mention it’s so heavily processed here as well – have you read the ingredients on sliced bread? – it’s enough to fill a page. It’s disgusting. But I would really love to move to a more organic diet. Great post Laurie!

    • Laurie says:

      Wow, Anthony!! Interesting about your relatives in Italy!! Yes, speaking of sliced bread, we are in the process of making the transition to baking our own. It’s disgusting that something as seemingly simple as slice bread could be so laden with chemicals. 🙁

  29. What an amazing testament to what organic all natural food can do for you. My family and I base our diet around eating whole foods with no additives, and mostly organic. I have noticed increases in energy, mood and overall health. I am a fan of eating organic. Of course, if you can’t for some reason, at least check out the methods on Pinterest for cleaning fruit and veggies. A little apple cider vinegar can go along way to clearing pesticides off your produce. You can’t do much about the meats though.

    Thanks for the great article, Laurie!

    • Laurie says:

      Glad to hear you have switched to organic too, Kalen. 🙂 We doubled the size of our garden this year in hopes of largely eliminating buying produce from the stores. In Rick’s word, we “planted the hell out of it” 🙂 Looking forward to having even a larger abundance of fruits and veggies to can, freeze and eat fresh – yay!

  30. My wife swears by organic fruits and I never really saw the appeal until a couple months ago. I ate a regular banana and an organic one later in the day and the difference was huge. The organic one definitely tasted better. I try to buy organic strawberries now as Ive heard they can be bad for harmful pesticides

    • Laurie says:

      I’ve heard that about strawberries too, Dan, and we’re planting some of our own this year. Interesting that you so clearly noticed the diff between the organic and non-organic bananas – good for you for getting on board and making the switch. 🙂

  31. Incredible story! I am having some problems caused by my irritable bowel syndrome and I have periods of time when I manage to eat healthy and stick to my diet, but as soon as the symptoms disappear I start eating crap again and soon afterwards I start feeling bad. Your story is truly inspirational and I really hope that I will be able to stick to a diet starting now. Eating healthy food, even though more expensive (since for now I can’t grow my own), should be a top priority!

    • Laurie says:

      Wow – interesting that you too saw such good results from a diet change!! I know so many people that don’t want to believe that a clean diet really makes a difference, but it truly does!

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