organic food

What is the organic movement all about? A couple of things, namely health and environment. First, it is a reaction to decades of corporate farming companies growing crops with chemicals and pesticides, possibly to the detriment of our health.

Organic proponents also point out that there are environmental and economic benefits. Often if you buy organic you are buying local. Supporting local farmers keeps your grocery dollar in the local economy. When you buy local produce, instead of produce from a grocery which may have been shipped from another country even, you also conserve fuel. Bringing a load of grapes to market from a local farm requires a truck to drive a few miles perhaps. Importing a load of grapes from Chile, by contrast, can mean a shipment that must come across the sea by boat or plane, then be trucked from the airport to different distribution centers, and so on.

All of these are noble ideals. Still, not all products are affected by being organic. Some products are protected by a thick skin so that pesticides and chemicals don’t leach into the edible part. Others simply don’t take on that much of the products used in growing them.

You want to buy the following products organic if possible:

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1. Meat: Factory farms make heavy use of antibiotics to stave off infections in animals. They also use chemicals to make the animals grow more quickly and become larger than normal, which means more meat and an earlier market date. These compounds stay in the meat, and are then ingested by consumers.

Organic meats do not contain these same chemical additives. Also, a consumer who is worried about humane treatment of animals can take heart in the fact that organic meat comes from animals who must be allowed to go outside at least once per day.

2. Coffee: Both the designation of organic and ‘Fair Trade’ is important with coffee. When you purchase fair trade coffee, you are getting coffee that has been grown and harvested without the exploitation of workers. The workers who grew and harvested your fair trade coffee have been paid fair wages.

3. Some fruits: Peaches are a definite must-buy when it comes to items you should buy organic. Peaches have a soft pulpy flesh that holds chemicals, and a thin skin that allows the fertilizers and chemicals used in growing to penetrate down into the flesh. The Environmental Working Group’s list of which foods have a high concentration of chemicals in them lists peaches as the worst offender.

Other fruits that tend to contain pesticides and chemicals, and so should be purchased organic, are apples, grapes, strawberries, and cherries. Consider purchasing organic wine as well, since pesticides in grapes don’t magically disappear when the grapes are fermented.

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