Last week I was one of three speakers on a panel at our town library. The topic? Food and Community: The Farm, The Garden, The Table. Seeing as how the other two panelists included a real live organic farmer and a community garden advocate, I figure I was The Table. That’s cool — it fits. I’m the mom/dietitian who happily blogs about healthy recipes, raising adventurous eaters, and feeding my family healthfully without making myself crazy. I’ll be the Table.
Where does someone like me stand on organic foods? I have to say I am still in the “thinking about it” stage. When it comes to fruits and vegetables, I’ve considered the pros (fewer pesticides, more eco-friendly practices) and the cons (more expensive, less convenient, limited accessibility). I believe, in the grand scheme of things, that moving towards greater consumption of organic produce would be better for me and my family. I have absolutely no qualms about consuming them – it is procuring them that has me a bit stumped. However, after sitting in on this panel last week, I am finally ready to take a bit of action — and some of my own advice!
If you, too, have been thinking it’s time to move towards organic produce, here’s a few ways you can start.
1) Grow your own. Don’t worry, you don’t need to rent a roto-tiller or trade in your capris for overalls in an effort to go organic. Start a little herb garden on your kitchen windowsill. Grow lettuce in window boxes outside. Plant cherry tomatoes in a pot on your deck. Or, do what I do, and take bags and bags of fresh produce home from your mother-in-laws gorgeous garden up in Maine. The best wax beans and cucumbers you ever ate.
2) Join a CSA. Community supported agriculture. Many folks love CSA because they know not just where their food is coming from, but also who planted and tended to it. In addition, the variety of produce you receive is a great way to expand your cooking repertoire. You just never know what you’re going to get in that bag of goodies — kale, garlic greens, kohlrabi, radishes, zucchini. You’ll be amazed at the things you can make! Ever tried of kale chips? Or mashed rutabagas and apples?
3) Buy organic in season. A good part of the year, the organic version of your favorite produce is more expensive than the conventionally grown version. Sometimes significantly more expensive. However, check prices on things that are in season at that moment. You might be surprised to find that the organically grown produce is comparable in price. Just last night I found that the ”organic is always more expensive” edict not to be true:
4) Spend your food $$ where organic matters most. The Environmental Working Group put together a great shopping list to help consumers decide when to buy organic. The “Dirty Dozen” is the list of the 12 fruits and vegetables that are most susceptible to pesticide contamination. Topping the list are apples, celery, and strawberries. If you eat these regularly, consider buying the organic version. The “Clean Fifteen” is a list of those fruits and vegetables least susceptible to pesticide contamination, and, so, considered safe to consume in the conventionally grown version. Some of the cleanest? Onions, sweet corn, and avocado.
I hope you found something useful here in your quest to go organic. If you’re further along in this transition than me, please let me know how you make it work for you! I could use the inspiration