Would it surprise you if, despite the name of this blog, I told you I don’t buy everything organic? In a perfect world, all my food would come from a local, organic source, but we all know how difficult that can be.
There are many influences that help us make these choices as consumers, and many factors are constantly changing, making it hard to define the issue as a something cut and dry. I wanted to share where my family is right now with this decision, and I’d love to hear what your family chooses as well.
“I don’t have any hard-and-fast rules. Organic may not always be the best choice, especially what I call “boutique organic”– meaning long-distance imports or the fancy, highly processed (and very expensive) health foods that come as packaged meals and snacks. Convenience food is okay in a pinch, but not as a lifestyle. For me, simplicity is usually the best choice; in food, as in child rearing on the whole.”
~Barbara Kingsolver, Thinking Beyond Yourself, an essay in The Complete Organic Pregnancy
Here’s a basic breakdown of my organic choices these days. This list fluctuates based on season, current finances and convenience, of course.
The bulk of our produce comes from our CSA, which is an organic local farm. I supplement however, with a few other “necessities” when I do my grocery shopping, or from the farmer’s market when we make time to go (it’s year-round where I live).
At the store, I go with organic when it’s reasonably affordable, sometimes checking the Dirty Dozen list (I should probably be better about checking that). I personally end up prioritizing local over organic with produce usually.
I buy all organic milk, yogurt, sour cream, cottage cheese, cream, etc. I do this for a few reasons: taste, less filler ingredients, no added hormones or ingredients, and supporting sustainable farm practices. Financially, I prioritize dairy as organic since we consome quite a bit of it. For milk, we drink cream top (non-homogenized) as it’s the most traditional yet affordable choice I have access to (it also comes from within our state which I like); grass-fed would be another characteristic I would like to incorporate more in our dairy purchases.
I don’t generally buy organic cheese, because it’s less affordable and not as common in my market. I love making homemade ice cream, although we do buy conventional as well.
Meat & Eggs
Our meat-eating follows a quality over quantity approach. As much as we like to eat it, as the shopper/chef of the family I tend to buy/prepare better meat, less often. I buy organic, free-range and or grass-fed when available, and aim for non-farmed seafood as much as I can.
We try to buy eggs from the friends we know who have chickens, but also get them from the farmer’s market or grocery store. I choose free-range and locally farmed when possible. Organic is a bonus with eggs, but not a priority for me.Photo by woodley wonderworks
The other things we buy and prepare vary on the organic front, including non-food items. If something is readily available and not too much more money than its conventional counterpart, I’ll go for the organic. But I’m not religious about it; rather, I see it more as a bonus when I can get something organic that’s not one of my priority items.
Most of us can’t afford all organic food, nor do many of us even have access to that. I know for me there are several other variables I consider when buying food (such as whether something is local, in-season, fair trade or processed), and I’m sure you have your own methods of weighing out the choices.
Now, it’s your turn to share. The comments section of this blog has always been a place that’s ripe with information, and I know on this subject it will be no different. Let’s just stick to our own personal convictions on this topic, though, rather than making generalized statements, as this is truly a family/individual decision.
What are your priorities when it comes to buying organic or not? Do you consider whether something is locally grown, in season, or just if it’s organic/conventional? Or do you have other variables that you consider?