My husband returned from the grocery store the other day with a bunch of bananas sporting an “organic” sticker. It’s a nice thought, eating organic food, since it conjures images of small farms and foods grown without pesticides. When you buy organic meat, you think of happy animals free on the range until they are killed for your dinner table.
There’s nothing wrong with choosing organic foods, especially if it makes you feel reasonably good about your choices. But before you get too caught up with it, examine the reasons behind buying organic.
Buying Organic In Spite of the Cost
When you read blog posts about cutting costs with your grocery bill, one of the bits of advice you are likely to see has to do with the fact that organic costs more — and it might not be worth the cost. For some produce, like bananas, buying organic to avoid pesticides really isn’t going to help much. Thick-skinned produce can keep much of those chemicals out.
Others point out that there isn’t a significant difference in nutrient quality between organic and non-organic produce and meat, and there are those who insist that milk and meat containing added hormones aren’t harmful products.
These are debates that will likely to continue to rage for years, and choosing organic, in spite of the added cost, can provide you with peace of mind — just in case those promoting organic food turn out to be right and all the additives and pesticides are harmful.
When making your food buying choices, it helps to be honest about the cost, and acknowledge that, if you believe you are getting other benefits, paying extra isn’t that important.
Many minimalists and others make an effort to reduce their impacts on the environment. Buying organic makes sense in these cases, since it’s assumed that organic food (produce and meat) is raised in accordance with better environmental standards.
This might be true, or it might not. An organically raised cow wasn’t necessarily raised in a sustainable manner. After all, raising cattle for food is one of the most environmentally unsustainable things we do as humans — even if the cows are completely grass fed and hormone-free.
It’s also important to consider the environmental impact of transport. The organic bananas that my husband bought might have been grown in an economically responsible way, but then transporting them from a tropical climate to our climate had its own impacts. Buying locally grown produce (even if it isn’t certified organic) is almost always a more environmentally sustainable choice than buying something marked organic that had to travel thousands of miles to get to your table. I felt a little bit bad about that when I thought about the route those bananas took to get here.
There’s nothing wrong with buying organic food, even if you pay a little more for it. However, if your goal is sustainability, it’s important to consider other items in your calculations. Think about why you are choosing organic food, and then make sure that those reasons mesh with the reality of your food choices.