Buying Organic Meats and Produce: Why Bother?

[Portrait of Enric Madriguera and Patricia Gilmore on their farm, Connecticut, ca. June 1947] (LOC)

Tell me what you eat and I will tell you what you are.

–Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

I saw this on Twitter last night:

Anything you have to peel— onions, bananas, garlic— is low in pesticides. Organic is a waste! 7 Supermarket Rip-Offs: (not giving the link traffic, sorry)

This is classic “not seeing the forest for the trees.”

It’s true. When you peel away the outer layers of something, you reduce the pesticides YOU ingest.

While the amount of chemicals you consume along with your foods is worth thinking about, this is NOT the reason I buy organic.

Sure, babies are born “pre-polluted,” with studies of cord blood finding nearly 300 different chemicals contaminating it:

Of the 287 chemicals we detected in umbilical cord blood, we know that 180 cause cancer in humans or animals, 217 are toxic to the brain and nervous system, and 208 cause birth defects or abnormal development in animal tests. (source)

Sure, there are about 80,000 chemicals currently on the market, and only about 200 have been tested for safety.

Sure, we’ve no idea what happens when these chemicals bio-accumulate over time, or what happens when the chemicals in our body burden interact with each other.

Scary as that is— that’s not why I buy organic either.

Because there are always going to be studies and tests that say, this is fine for you, and these levels of pesticides are OK, and whatever, and I just don’t have the time or inclination to stay on top of the latest and greatest and argue with detractors.

This, however, I think is inarguable:

All those chemicals and pesticides are going somewhere for sure, and do you know where that is?

Into our soil, our water and our air.

And into our farmers, and our farmers’ children.

(Not to mention, into you. And your children.)

So when I buy organic produce, I do it to support farms that don’t knowingly pollute. Who don’t force their workers and families to handle dangerous chemicals on a day-to-day basis.

And when I buy organic meats, the principle is the same. The bio-accumulation of chemical-laden feed worries me, but my main concerns are the ethics of the farmers. How do they treat their workers? Are the animals handled humanely? (Aside: it’s a nice bonus that happy cows and pigs tend to taste SO MUCH BETTER than their factory-farmed counterparts.)

Yes, organics are more expensive. It simply costs more to take care of things properly, to oversee a farm rather than “spray and pray.” The price you pay is the true cost of healthy, ethical eating. Of quality.

When your roof is falling, do you go for the cheap fix? When your child’s tooth is hurting, is your first concern “Do I have a coupon for this (regardless of quality of care)?” Why do we accept sub-par quality in favor of unnecessary quantity when it comes to what we feed our families?

Discounts? Cheap beef? That’s corner-cutting, compromises made on morality and health that may save you a few pennies now, but will cost you in doctor’s visits in the long run:

  • cancer rates are up 50% since the mid-90s
  • allergy rates, 18%
  • instances of gout have doubled
  • In 1994, about 23% of the population was obese. Today, about 33%. At that rate, by 2030 half of the population will be obese, and health-care costs will be astronomical as millions of people develop type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer due to their diet.

We need to start eating mindfully. We are what we eat.

I know money is tight all over, so try these tips:

–Save on organic produce by buying from farmers’ markets and staying in season; this year I’m going to try canning and freezing.

–Incorporate more grains (rice, quinoa, whole wheat pasta) into your menu plan, so meat portions don’t need to be as big for your meal to be filling.

–Buy organic meat online from a reputable source or from ethical, local farmers in bulk to freeze.

–Designate one day of the week (or more!) as meatless.


Do you buy organic meats and produce?
What are your reasons?


Disclosure: I am participating in a blogger campaign by Bucks2Blog and was compensated for my time. However, all views and opinions are my own.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *