To Buy or Not to Buy?…Organic Foods

Apparently, I have been over-doing things the past few weekends with all of this ‘food prep’ and new recipes and such, because this past week I got sick. Now, being sick might be awful, but being home on a sick day? Priceless.
Since I was all caught up on my latest prime-time shows, I decided to watch a documentary that a friend had recommended, called “Hungry for Change.” Watching it made me think even more about the types of food I purchase for my family. Every expert seemed to repeat the same message, “Eat lots of organic fruits and vegetables every day.” While I eat lots of fruits and vegetables, I am somewhat sporatic about choosing organic over not. As a graduate of Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University classes, the price difference usually gets to me. But now, I needed to look at the issue head-on. Buy organic…or not?
What is organic?
Organic farmers apply techniques first used thousands of years ago, such as crop rotations and the use of composted animal manures and green manure crops, in ways that are economically sustainable in today’s world, according to the USDA. Pesticides, herbicides and other synthetic chemicals are not used. Animals are fed organic food. So, if a food is not organic, we can assume the opposite is true. There are thousands of articles out there about current agricultural practices and how depleted America’s soils are. But to capture it in a nutshell: In the late 70’s, the push from the FDA became to produce more and bigger crops to drive the cost of food down. What has resulted are genetically modified crops that can resist being sprayed with pesticides (Round-Up) and grow larger and faster than ever before. Do we really want to eat something that won’t die from Round-up? Hmmm…. 
Does organic mean that a food has not been genetically modified (GMO)?
According to “Organic is usually GMO free. Buying 100% Organic, Certified Organic, and USDA Organic-labeled products is usually the easiest way to avoid genetically modified ingredients.

The United States and Canadian governments do NOT allow companies to label products “100% / Certified Organic” if they contain genetically modified foods.

To put it in more detail:

100% Organic: Must contain 100 percent organically produced ingredients (excluding water and salt). This is the only label that certifies a completely organic product AND completely GMO-free ingredients.

Certified Organic / USDA Organic / Organic: At least 95 percent of content is organic by weight (excluding water and salt). The <5% remaining ingredients must consist of substances approved on the USDA’s National List. GMOs are NOT on this list, so these products are also usually GMO-free.

Made with Organic: Up to 70% of the ingredients are organic. These products can NOT carry a “USDA organic” label and are NOT typically GMO-free.” (full article here)

What is the cost?

Well, my typical weekly grocery bill, for our family of five, at Winco Foods runs around $200 (not including grass-fed beef, which we buy from local ranchers) . This weekend, I decided to purchase all organic fruits and vegetables. While Winco has a limited organic selection, I was on a time schedule (What’s new?) and decided to get it all at another store, LifeSource Natural Foods in Salem. They already carry all of the specialty foods (dairy and soy free, gluten free) that I buy each week, so I don’t have to add another stop on grocery day. When the shopping trip was all said and done, my total was just over $250. Basically, the cost of the produce was about double what I usually pay.

Is it worth it?

All the way home I was feeling bad for spending more than I should have and thinking that this organic project, while worthy, may just be a bad idea. After all, I can’t spend $200 more per month on food, can I? But once I got home and we all ate lunch and everyone (hubby included) couldn’t stop talking about how delicious the apples were, our minds were made up. On top of all of the health benefits, organic tastes better, too! If it all tastes better, we are more inclined to eat it and will choose it over other, less healthy foods. And eating more fruits and vegetables is the goal for my family, so we will make it work somehow. We need to shop around, I’m sure. Costco often has some organic produce. I’ve recently discovered the large selection at Fred Meyer, and farmer’s market season is just around the corner. And just maybe, we can move some of the budget around to give us at least some of the extra money needed to stick with it. Oh, Dave Ramsey would be so proud!


2 thoughts on “To Buy or Not to Buy?…Organic Foods

  1. Wonderful information here! I really like that you mention that organic doesn’t always signify non-GMO. The trouble is of course with “accidental” poisoning of fields with the seeds of an evil giant who shall remain nameless less they sue me for calling them an evil giant!

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