Is organic worth the price?


I tried really really hard to grow an organic garden this year.  We even made it up to tomato harvest time before weevils invaded, and I was forced to resort to non-organic treatments or lose my crop.

Now my days are probably numbered since I’ve been stuffing myself with the pesticide- treated maters and squash.  I “wrench them off” as my grandmother used to say, but I’m sure some molecules are circulating through my blood stream.

hazardous-chemicals It does beg the question.  Should we be paying the extra price for organically grown crops?  I’ve made it to the ripe old age of 50-12 which means I’m too old to die young, but could I be tempting fate?

More and more grocery stores are making room for organic products to keep up with increasing demand.

Why are people going organic? Reasons include a growing national concern about the safety of our produce and a general movement toward an organic diet.

The Organic Diet: What Does Organic Really Mean?

Organic foods are thought to be better for your health  and the environment because they’re grown in a natural, chemical-free way. Organic produce is grown using natural pest control methods, instead of pesticides, and organic meats don’t rely on chemicals to prevent diseases in animals. Instead of chemicals, organic farmers:

  • Rotate crops frequently to stave off insects
  • Fertilize crops with manure or compost
  • Use chemical-free soils
  • Allow animals to spend more time roaming instead of in confined spaces where diseases can spread
  • Use organic feed to feed livestock
  • Do not use certain medications (including hormones and antibiotics) on livestock

The Organic Diet: What Are the Benefits of Going Organic?

The decision to choose organic produce and other foods is a personal one, based on your own needs and concerns. Some people just don’t want to eat any food that could contain pesticides and other chemicals, says Anne Wolf, RD, a registered dietitian and researcher at the University of Virginia School of Medicine.

Another reason: Organic food tastes better, says Wolf, adding that studies have shown organic foods contain more disease-fighting antioxidants. Personally, I can’t tell the difference, unless it is very fresh produce.

In addition to health and better taste, there’s the green aspect of going organic. “A lot of people eat organic for the philosophy of it — to help sustain our earth,” notes Wolf. Organic farming practices are better for the sustainability of land, water, and food.

For most healthy adults, though, Wolf admits, organic foods aren’t necessary for better health — it’s just a preference. Pregnant women and children are more susceptible to the health effects of pesticides (including nervous system damage and behavioral problems), so for them, organic foods are a good health investment.

The Organic Diet: How You Can Tell For Sure?

To be certified as 100 percent organic, food products must meet the standards set by the United States Department of Agriculture. At the grocery store, it’s easy to spot certified organic products because only they will have the “USDA organic” label. Keep in mind that products labeled “natural” or “hormone-free” are not necessarily organic.

At local farmer’s markets, it can sometimes be difficult to verify whether a product has truly been grown organically, but local produce does tend to contain fewer chemicals since it doesn’t have to be packaged for long-distance travel.

The Organic Diet: Is It Worth the Price?

Organic food is more expensive because it costs more to produce it. Are the health benefits worth the price? “If it gives you peace of mind,” says Wolf.

Fortunately, you can still eat a healthy diet  without going broke. Organic is organic, whether it has a fancy brand name or is a no-name. Buy generic store brands of organic foods instead of the pricier brands. Purchasing in bulk and freezing extra food or splitting with friends, can also help you save money.

If you do end up paying a little more for organic food, you may also find yourself paying a little more attention to how much food you put in your mouth, which can be a good thing. “When it’s more expensive, you eat less of it,” observes Wolf. She also notes that slowing down to savor and appreciate your food can enhance meal times.

Enjoy your food, she says, “not just the quantity, but the quality of it, and how it’s connected to the health of our environment.”

7 thoughts on “Is organic worth the price?

  1. Hey, Emily-
    Think about the veggies and animals our grandparents and great-grandparents had- definitely “free-range” animals AND they didn’t have all the pesticides we use today. And they didn’t live as long as people do now!
    I think the very best thing we can do is grow our own veggies (I’m still not ready for chickens in my back yard!) In lieu of that,-buy at a farmer’s market- or as close to local as you can get.

  2. Very true Ann – thanks SOOO much for sending the Ponchatoula newspaper with Mrs. Vaughan’s write up. It was priceless!
    Jack hadn’t seen it.


  3. Hi ya’ll,

    Inspite of the downfall in the economy, perhaps you’ve read about how the market is driving the demand for organic foods up. People are just chosing their health over other material things.

    When it comes to the most bang for your buck, emphasize the foods with soft skins — berries, grapes, peaches, pears, etc., and things that grow above ground when buying organic.

    I buy Costa Rican pineapples for the taste, and save money by just buying ordinary ones labeled conventional rather than organic. Also, I don’t usually buy beans and corn in organic unless there’s hardly a price difference. I have a friend who is a corn farmer, and he swears that you can’t find corn that’s not been contaminated genetically by all this GMO (genetically modified stuff). I still eat it, and I’m fortunate to not have any immune reactions to it that I’m aware of — the others are obvious — but a few in my support group for those with microscopic colitis, also have corn sensitivities. I think I lucked out in not having that gene combination to react to that one. Anyway, my theory is that our immune systems naturally find these forum proteins to be alien to the human body in a big way, and many of their component parts may look similar to some of our bodies own cells, resulting in overwhelming immune reactions. No testing was ever required for these new proteins to be entered into the food supply. Cross breeding is one thing, but messin’ with the genetic material of foods is a horseradish of a different color!

    At any rate, there’s got to be a logical explanation of why we’re having this relatively recent upsurge in food allergies, both of the immediate (IgE, true allergy kind) as well as the more delayed types (IgA, IgG).

    I’m also particularly concerned with this topic since my mother and her brother both have/have had Parkinson’s disease. In PD, there is more of a common form of pesticides found circulating in the blood of people growing up in agricultural areas as opposed to people with Alzheimers and normal control subjects for comparison.

    I hear people laugh this stuff off all the time, but when your whole family has had neurological issues, it changes your perspective. I don’t know where the FDA has been — know they do alot — but it’s like the fox is guarding the hen house at times.

    At least I’m glad that people are getting educated and that the FREE MARKET is working beautifully to cause more people to produce and sell quality foods.

    We’re lucky in that we can easily find free range chickens here, and other lean animal meat, like bison/buffalo, for instance, and we eat red salmon often as well. I’ve never developed a taste for lamb or deer, etc., but do eat turkey when I don’t need to stay awake! Ha! The wild and free range animals contain lots more of the Omega 3’s, etc. than the less expensive meats, so that’s one way to get more of it naturally — they don’t get fat on corn, etc.

    Also, there’s such a thing as “toxic load” which is when the body’s immune system is so overloaded with things it considers “foreign to it” and goes into all out war mode, that it begins to react to all sorts of chemicals that are in the furnishings of one’s house and products used in the house.

    I was at a medical conference, seated across from Dr. Rhea, a cardiologist who is sort of considered to be the father of environmental medicine. He told a fellow at our dinner table that among all his patients, he’d NEVER had anyone with more than six food sensitivities who wasn’t also chemically sensitive. By the way, he has a couple of detox facilities, one of which is in Dallas, and those facilities are used to detox people such as firemen who were working at ground zero during and after 911 — interesting man!

    I figure you do the best you can, but as they say, “No one gets out alive!”
    I could get out and grow some of my own stuff!

    My mother had a Chinese lady who had the most amazing backyard garden of Chinese vegetables — lots of gourds you never saw before.

    There were fruit trees, including a huge pear tree, always full of pears. There’s a hands off law here in terms of messing with animals, but let’s just say that she was sort of the Chinese version of Ma Clampett.
    That’ what we figure was going on, although we didn’t actually see it.
    I’ve always wondered if perhaps she ate the evidence — never wasted anything — amazing woman! Every inch of that back yard grew something, and vertically as well.

    I’ve been off of soft drinks now since Sunday before last — DT’s are almost resolved. Now it’s just psychological! Ha!!


  4. Forgot to mention, that also, besides not eating as much (I’m not sure that’s true in my case. Ha!) one tends not to waste food if it’s more expensive.
    If you buy any frozen food, alot of times, it’s frozen right in the field. We’ve been able to buy perfectly ripe frozen foods, picked in their prime all the time, so sometimes, considering the cost of things going bad (if not being bad already), the frozen not only tastes better, but ends up saving you money, particularly for the fruits and vegetables that are not purchased in peak of season when prices are lowest. We are fortunate in being able to find organic frozen fruits and vegetables.

    I’m making it a little more difficult because now, I’m trying to buy everything I buy that’s frozen organic and made in the good ole USA. If it’s from Texas — hey, that’s even better. I’ve even switched to buying a few things fresh now, just to not have to buy imported foods. I can hardly find anything that’s not grown in China, in Mexico or south of the equator, Canada more recently — trend came about rapidly, but we need to reverse it, and fast! I guess in order to get good frozen brussel sprouts, I may have to make that one exception. I’m sure glad that we can grow Chinese vegetables here!

    Have ya’ll ever tasted one of those red peppers from New Mexico? One will last you a year, and only then if you have caste iron taste buds!! No need to import those, that’s for sure!


  5. I don’t trust produce from Mexico, not seafood from China…so if I can buy it “off the truck from the coast” or at the farmer’s market – I just buy it frozen – but you gotta watch that too…

    Brussels spouts huh! I wouldn’t touch one just because of the way they smell. We certainly inherited diverse taste buds from ole Needham Lee.

  6. Very interesting. Thanks for educating me.

    Incidentally I’ve been off sugar for 14 days and have finally lost my taste for it. You should experience the same with your soft drinks. Wonder why Yankees called them sodas?

  7. Emily,

    These brussels sprouts are frozen and the taste is way different than any others I’ve ever had — must be that they are frozen so immediately in the field. They actually come from the Brussels area, so perhaps the ground makes a difference. I’ve never been able to eat any others, that is unless they were covered with cheese, back when I could eat dairy. I haven’t even noticed THAT smell with these, but know what you are talking about.
    Does anyone in the family besides my sister and I actually eat any of these?
    By the way, the frozen okra is delicious, but don’t think I’ve ever been able to find it in organic anywhere. I’m not even sure it comes from the USA anymore as haven’t bought any in a while. It tastes soo much better than the low end store versions — no comparison — I can’t eat those versions, they are so bad. We just throw it in a pot with water, and season a bit, and it’s delicious without doing any of that Cajun stuff to it.

    Alot of people I know who can’t have so many foods due to allergies and sensitivities notice an increased appreciation for various tastes in foods over time, particularly vegetables, but I also think sometimes we just naturally are pushed into better foods since we have to be so careful in reading labels anyway, and we’re looking for things without 10 ingredients (additives, mystery ingredients,etc.) listed when it’s just one thing we desire to eat in the first place. I’m not sure I ever even thought about why a simple food would need so many additive in the first place until I HAD to start reading labels. If the product is of high quality in the first place, why would it be necessary to add all that other stuff that belongs in someone’s chem lab??

    Emily, must be sumpin in our genes to make us go off that sugah at almost the same time. Thanks for telling me it gets better? Hee hee!

    Don’t know about the name, “Soda,” but I finally gave in and started calling them that when “carbonated beverage” was taking too long to say. I really just say coke in a generic way when I want to stop for something wet when my throat is dry anyway. Guess it won’t matter now, I’ll just be looking for a water fountain! Ha!

    Yours, Luce

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