Quick Interview: Organics vs. Conventional Foods – Mothers & Menus Founder, Author of The Well Rounded Pregnancy Cookbook, Karen Gurwitz

November 9th, 2007

Karen Gurwitz of Mothers & Menus with her children

New and expectant Moms in Manhattan enjoy fresh, organic, home-delivered meals, thanks to Mothers & Menus founder Karen Gurwitz. Fresh from her recent launch of The Well Rounded Pregnancy cookbook, Karen sat down to talk with Organicmania about the organics vs. conventional food debate.

Organicmania: I recall when Mothers & Menus first launched, you positioned your service as a “healthy” meal delivery service. Now some of your promotional materials describe Mothers & Menus as an “organic” meal delivery service. Why did you make the switch to organic?

Karen Gurwitz: Actually, that evolved over time when I was able to find a more complete range of organic products. But to me, the emphasis really should be on “healthy” versus “organics.” Sometimes fresh conventional produce makes more sense than organic food.

Organicmania: So you don’t think mothers should make a point of buying only organic foods?

Karen Gurwitz: You know, it’s not all or nothing. I think mothers, especially new mothers, need to do what works for them. Moms have to do what makes sense for them and for their families. And organics can be expensive. If a Mom can afford organics, great. If not, there are good conventional alternatives available. Eating real, whole foods is what is really important for good health.

Organicmania: What exactly do you mean by “whole foods?”

Karen Gurwitz: Whole foods are foods that are minimally processed and as close to their original form as possible. Whole foods are especially helpful during and right after pregnancy as they contain fiber, water, complex-carbohydrates and minerals. Whole foods are easier to process, alleviating you of the fatigue associated with digestion, and supporting optimum energy and health.

Organicmania: What do you think is the most important aspect of organic food?

Karen Gurwitz: First and foremost, the health benefits. To me, it makes more sense to eat food that hasn’t been tampered with in terms of chemicals and pesticides. I also love the gentle effects of organic farming on the earth. And, in the final taste test, I find that food tastes better with organic ingredients.

Organicmania: Karen, you’re a busy Mom with your own business, three kids, and a new book. How do you do it all?

Karen Gurwitz: I have a wonderful husband who supports me. And sometimes — I don’t do it all! I think that as moms we put too many expectations on ourselves. Some days are more productive than others. But in the end, I love what I do, and I hope to inspire my children, especially my daughters, to be all that they want to be.

Organicmania: What’s next for you, Karen? When can we get Mothers & Menus outside of the Big Apple?

Karen Gurwitz: Stay tuned. Mothers & Menus has already tested in Florida and Boston and gotten great results. It’s critical for me to maintain the food quality and a high level of customer service. I plan to make some announcements about that in the second quarter of 2008 – sign up for my newsletter for more information.

— By Lynn / Copyright Organicmania 2007

2 Responses to “Quick Interview: Organics vs. Conventional Foods – Mothers & Menus Founder, Author of The Well Rounded Pregnancy Cookbook, Karen Gurwitz”

  1. Beth E. Berns on November 9, 2007 8:56 pm

    I agree with Karen. Organics are terrific, but sometimes it’s more important to eat whole locally grown produce. In mid Ocrober I visted a Farmer’s Market in NYC. The apples looked so fresh and delicious. I asked several farmers if they grew their apples through organic methods. 4 separate farmers answered “no.” One farmer was kind enough to explain to me why he could not use orgnic methods to grow apples in New York State. Frankly it is too moist and the bugs,insects and deer would eat all the apples in the orchards without some sprays. In addition, the climate is too moist in New York State to avoid using certain items in the fertizer. Orchards in certain parts of California and the west coast could more easily use organic methods. He explained to me that no chemicals were used in pressing the apples for Apple Cider, and the fruits were thoroughly washed.
    As consumers, I think it is really important to purchase food as close to where it grown, the source, to minimize transportation time and costs, as well as additional chemicals for preservation of freshness.

    Beth, thanks for your comments. I especially like your story about the farmer’s market. I recall that in the fall, there were a lot of Moms looking for organic orchards with no success, likely for the very reasons you mention. — Lynn

  2. Sue on November 12, 2007 1:43 pm

    This is a really interesting discussion. I am torn between buying organic produce and buying locally produced farmers market produce. In some cases, I know the local produce is not organic but I still purchase these items over the organics. Part of the reason is that I am trying to keep the little guy in business. My uncle was a farmer during my childhood, until his farm went under. I think it’s hard for the small mom and pop farmers (businesses) to compete in todays market. This is unfortunate because a way of life is being slowly lost.

    In any event it is really interesting for me to understand when does it make sense to eat organics and when does it make sense to purchase local produce that is not organic. Thanks to Lynn and Karen’s post this issues is getting a little clearer for me.

    Sue – Thanks for your comments. I enjoyed the talk with Karen, and will actually be following-up with more interviews with what I’m calling “Organic Mommypreneurs.” I think you’ll find the next one in the series very interesting, because we’ll touch on some similar issues, even exploring “what is organic?” — Lynn

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