Since Organic food gained popularity, I’ve been subject to its engrossing charm, and I remember telling my mum “When I have my own home I want to buy everything organic”.
But what does Organic mean?
Organic denotes something grown with methods which do not involve synthetic pesticides and chemical fertilizers, do not contain genetically modified organisms (GMO), and are not processed using irradiation, industrial solvents or chemical food additives.
This includes Organic food, farming, animals, textiles, beauty products and also Organic standards and principles. Have a look at the Soil Association website for more interesting information on each category.
Let’s start with Organic Food.
It is produced using environmentally and animal friendly farming methods on organic farms and in order for foods to be labelled Organic there are strict regulations: at least 95% of the ingredients must come from organic plants and animals.
I’ve been living with my boyfriend N in our cosy birds-chirps-surrounded, awfully neutrally-carpeted rented flat in Surrey since December 2010 and I can safely say I do not buy everything organic.
The main reason is the cost. After a mostly adverse 2011 I still have a “I have to be really careful with money” frame of mind, and organic food is definitely more expensive.
The main reasons are that organic food is more expensive to produce and therefore to buy, the costs for the farmers are higher, an organic cow produces less milk and requires more land…
More details on the Effects Organic food has on your wallet article from the Independent.
So the big question is: Is Organic food worth its extra cost?
There are many conflicting views on the health benefits of organic food, and the UK Food Standard Agency (FSA) currently does not support claims that organic food is more nutritious than ordinary food as you can also read on this Independent’s article.
However, another very interesting National Geographic article shows which Fruits and Vegetable should be eaten organic whenever possible because of their pesticide residue content.
The most contaminated produce, that should be preferably bought organic is:
- Apples, blueberries, cherries, grapes, peaches, strawberries, nectarines;
- Celery, bell peppers, kale/collard greens, spinach and potatoes!
According to the Environmental Working Group you’ll be exposed to 10 pesticides every day if eating non-organic versions of these fruits and vegetables. Even potatoes! Pretty shocking, right?
Organic products are pesticide-free but more expensive. So I guess eating organic food is also an investment in your health.
What is the best way to buy organic food without having to spend too much money?
- Shop locally (rather than spending more money for food flown from the other side of the world) and buy produce that is in season;
- Subscribe to receive boxes of locally grown organic food such as the ones from riverford check localfoods.org from local providers;
- Go to local farmers markets: they sell directly to the consumer and you’ll be able to ask how the food was grown (they may grow food with organic principles even though they don’t have the organic certification);
- Buy in bulk: if you go to markets that sell organic produce in bulk it’s a great opportunity to make jams, chutney or to give some truly healthy fruit&veg to friends and family (now that’s a really lovely present!);
- Take the time to compare prices and learn what’s organic but affordable;
I bought this Rachel’s organic low-fat yogurt from Morrison’s when it was on offer for £1 (normally £1.59): delicious and affordable!
Now please excuse me, but I have some organic vegetables to invest in!
Do you buy organic products?
Which organic products do you buy?
Do you think organic is healthier and better?