There’s much debate in the world about whether or not organic food is better for you, and whether or not it’s worth the expense. As someone who’s been experimenting on and off with organic and non-organic food for nearly two decades, I’ve watched documentaries, read books and researched findings on both sides of the aisle: those in favor of organic, and those who say it’s a waste of money.
There are those out there who say that organic eating is a marketing scheme and a complete waste of cash, and those out there who insist we’ll die an early death if we choose to eat primarily non-organic food. Personally, I think that a balance can be found. I think that there is absolutely a place for organic foods in today’s society, and I believe that we are highly (and purposely) uneducated on the dangers of the pesticides and chemical additives in much of today’s food.
After much research (and working to learn to feed our family organic food and still stick to our $400 a month grocery budget) I can solidly say we are highly in favor of eating organically when possible. Here’s what we’ve learned about eating organic, and why we choose to feed our family organic foods when we can.
Benefits of Organic Food
The benefits of eating organic are many, in my humble opinion. I’ve notice a marked increase in the health of our family since we started making organic food a priority when possible. Our family’s experimentation with organic food and whole foods began 16 years ago after the birth of our first daughter. The dangerous circumstances (she came out a whopping 10 pounds, 12 ounces, and the doctor, ignoring my please to double check her weight in-utero, insisted on a vaginal birth) surrounding her birth nearly killed her and me both, and what followed was over a year of of chronic pain, fatigue and illness for me.
As a last resort, I went to a whole-foods, organic food diet, desperate for something to make me feel better again and allow me to play with my daughter and care for our family. After only 30 days, 70-80 percent of my symptoms were gone, and I was once again able to live a normal, active life. When I returned however, to a non-organic processed food diet, the symptoms returned. From then on, I’ve worked to find a balance between eating organic whole foods and still living a “normal” eating life.
When our son was born 6 and a half years later, he developed strange symptoms at age one and a half. He’d vomit once or more a day, be fine for a day or two, and then start vomiting again. He also developed an itchy rash on the back of his leg. After NUMEROUS trips to the doctor, we finally self-diagnosed the problem: corn intolerance. More pointedly, the GMO, pesticide-filled corn we’d been unknowingly feeding him, both through processed foods, popcorn and dairy products from corn-fed cows was what was making him sick. Again, we eliminated the GMO corn and corn products and our son was fine. But to this day, if he eats any large amount of corn products, the rash and upset stomach return.
Because of our vast experimenting in the food arena, we’re sharing with you today five reason why we believe organic food is the better choice.
Pesticides such as Roundup have long been suspected by well-educated scientists, physicians and health experts as causing a myriad of diseases and symptoms, such as cancers, gluten issues and more. I try not to believe everything I’m told, but as my mom likes to say, if enough people are telling you that you look like a duck, you’d better turn around and see if you have a tail.
There’s far too many reports by researchers – and far too many reports by everyday citizens like myself – of pesticide-induced health problems for me to believe that pesticides don’t harm people, animals and the environment. One BIG reason for us to go organic.
No Chemical Additives
Chemical additives have long been suspected of causing physical and mental symptoms that are dangerous and debilitating. I’ve got several friends whose children react negatively (and sometimes dangerously) to a dose of this, that or the other red dye number. MSG has been shown to cause headaches, nausea and vomiting. The chemical additives that are put in today’s food to make it look more appealing, taste better and last longer likely have the downside of endangering our health. Organic foods, however, cannot contain chemical additives, according to this website.
One of the most powerful documentaries we’ve watched on the subject of GMOs, conveniently called GMO: OMG, will give you a million and one reasons to avoid GMOs. The best way to avoid GMOs? Eat only organic fruits and veggies.
Recommended Viewing: GMO OMG
A Marked Difference in Taste
I’ve read this in books before, but have been surprised at the differences we’ve experienced ourselves. When switching to an organic diet, most people don’t notice much of a change in taste. HOWEVER, when eating non-organic foods AFTER a long stint on organic only, the taste difference becomes undeniable. Three areas where we’ve found taste differences to be dramatic in organic vs. non-organic are:
- In chicken and in red meat. We can scarcely stomach the store-bought meats since we’ve switched to free-range organic cow and chicken
- In veggies. The garden-grown veggies we eat here at the farm kick tail over the all-but-tasteless store-bought stuff
- In dairy. I have to say we didn’t realize how big the dairy difference was until this year at Thanksgiving. I was afraid we’d run out of butter so I picked up some unsalted non-organic butter at the store to use on the tables for rolls,etc. I sat down to eat, buttered my roll, took one bite and promptly disposed of it in my napkin. It was disgusting! My thoughts on non-organic butter and the disgusting taste were verified when second-oldest daughter came to me a short time later, asked if I’d tasted the butter and then asked if she could PLEASE throw out her roll. And yes, I checked the date on the butter. The store we bought it at has a huge turnover rate, so I doubt spoiling was the issue.
As I said, most of the time one can’t tell the difference between organic and non-organic flavor. But after a long stint on only organic food, a trip back to the non-organic sibling will be instantly recognizable for its sub-par taste.
An Affordable Option
Another “beef” that critics have about a non-organic diet is that it’s just not affordable for the average family. I call bullshit. If you want to, you certainly can be wasteful by buying organic, as Mr. and Mrs. 1500’s neighbors have shown us. But it’s also perfectly possible to feed your family organic and still stay within a small budget. We feed our family for roughly $70 per person each month and buy many organic items. Here’s how:
- Avoid processed foods. By eating primarily whole foods and avoiding processed foods such as expensive organic cereal, you can save tons of money on your grocery budget
- Cook from scratch. We work to cook most baked goods such as bread, cakes and cookies from scratch. This allows us to buy organic flour, sugar, etc and stretch it a long way for a little bit of money. Organic bread costs $5 a loaf at the stores around here, but it costs us about a buck to make it from scratch
- Grow your own. Most of our organic veggies and fruits come from our very own organic garden. We then can and freeze the proceeds to make our organic fruits and veggies last all year around
- Make choices based on what’s important to you and what fits in your budget. Primarily, these are the things we buy organic: milk (from Walmart) butter, flour, sugar (from Costco), red meat and chicken (from local farmers – often cheaper even than store prices). The butter isn’t much more expensive than non-organic ($4 a pound instead of $3 a pound), the red meat is cheaper than most store prices, thanks to a non-greedy local farming operation, but the chicken and the milk is much more expensive than non-organic. So we make choices. We choose to drink less milk and eat less chicken than we normally would, and we choose to forego spending money on non-essentials (such as chips, pop and processed dinners) so that we have more room in our budget for the organic milk and chicken.
I think this is one of those subjects that you’ve got to be convinced about on our own, but I can tell you that our family has learned well. And for that reason, we’ll stick with organic where and when we can.