Organics’ Four Factors

January 16th, 2008

The Olive Oil post really led to some interesting reader comments about when to buy organic and what motivates us to buy organic – or not. Price and convenience surely come into play, but the main reasons for buying organic boil down to what OrganicMania calls “Organics’ Four Factors.” Your decision to go organic – or not – will in large part depend on how important each of these four factors are to you, and how much the particular item is affected by these four factors.

1. Health Benefits
2. Protecting the Environment
3. Animal Rights
4. Taste

Let’s take a quick look at each of the four factors.
1. Health Benefits – While some dispute the notion that organic food is healthier, we do know from the Environmental Working Group’s research that certain conventional fruits and vegetables – aka the “Dirty Dozen” – retain a high amount of pesticides. Efforts should be made to buy organic versions of the “Dirty Dozen.” (Peaches, apples, sweet bell peppers, celery, nectarines, strawberries, cherries, lettuce, imported grapes, pears, spinach, and potatoes).  OrganicMania adds carrots to the list because they follow potatoes at #13 on the list, and they’re one of the few vegetables kids are likely to eat often. Many people also opt to purchase organic milk to avoid exposure to bovine growth hormone (BGH) and antibiotics, among other benefits. Add to this the fact that organic foods are produced without the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), which some countries (notably our European and Japanese friends) have banned from their own food supplies.
2. Protecting the Environment – The elimination or near-reduction of pesticides in organic farming has direct environmental benefits to the earth and to the farm workers. Many consider these to be the most important reasons to buy organic.
3. Animal Rights – Organic standards mandate that cattle have access to pasture and are grass-fed, unlike the way they are treated on mass market “factory farms.”
4. Taste – To most people, organic simply tastes better. And isn’t that the joy of food anyway?

— Lynn

Copyright 2008, OrganicMania

3 Responses to “Organics’ Four Factors”

  1. MamaBird on January 17, 2008 1:21 pm

    The taste of organic milk can’t be beat, I agree. I wonder if you’d comment further on GMO foodstuffs? I am so curious about this angle and haven’t done much research about it (to echo the olive oil posts, I am afraid to know anything more that would drive my food bill ANY higher!). Also, any thoughts about the cloned food about to enter our food supply?

    Hi Mamabird, very timely question about cloned food. Frankly, I don’t think anyone truly knows where that can lead, despite the FDA’s recent stance allowing cloned foods. But I do think Michael Pollan, author of “The Omnivore’s Dilemma,” and the new book “In Defense of Food,” raised a good point on the Well blog in today’s New York Times. He said, “I think the bigger concern with cloned animals is not personal health. It’s what will it take to keep a herd of genetically identical chickens, horses or pigs alive? Sex and variation is what keeps us from getting wiped out by microbes. If everything is genetically identical, one disease can come along and wipe out the entire group. You will need so many antibiotics and so much sanitation to keep a herd of these creatures going. The bigger concern should be antibiotic resistance.” Regarding GMO, similar issues about uncertainty. Polite company can disagree. I think the biggest issue is that for parents of small children, anything new and potentially unproven can be very scary. There’s so much out there that we can’t control when it comes to our kids, we like to think that at least we can exert some control over their nutrition in their formative years. — Lynn

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