Dr. Kristen Mitteness
Is Organic the Best Choice?
Eating fruits and vegetables that have been grown in quality soil and are pesticide free is ideal. Meat from animals that have been treated humanely, are free to roam, have lived a happy, healthy life are best. Buying organic foods is a great step in becoming aware of what is in your food and where it comes from. Unfortunately, there are times when organic just doesn’t cut it.
Organic doesn’t always mean organic – Every country in the world has different rules on what constitutes as organic. Buying organic products from Canada, USA or Europe are usually a safe bet. Anywhere else? Not so much.
Organic animal products – An animal labeled organic means it was raised without antibiotics or hormones. That is good news. It also means it was fed organic feed. This is so-so news. A cow is designed to eat grass. Although organic wheat and corn are better than conventional, it is still not the ideal food for a cow. Vegetarian fed chickens? They want to eat bugs! Organic is better than conventional. But not as good as grass fed or pastured.
Locally grown produce – Becoming a certified organic farm is hard work. And very expensive. Many small farms don’t have the resources to officially become organic yet they still use organic farming methods. Talk to your farmer. They love discussing their farming practices with you! And if they don’t, then it’s a red flag. Locally grown food also saves on gas, oil and travel time. I will choose to by a local, non organic apple over an organic apple grown in New Zealand to reduce my carbon footprint and support local farming.
Just because it’s organic, doesn’t mean it’s good for you – I don’t really care how organic wheat is, I still won’t eat it. There are certain foods I don’t advocate eating, organic or not, due to the effects they have on the body. This includes, but is not limited to corn, wheat, barley, rye and sugar. Are they better than conventional? Probably. But I’m still not an advocate. There are much better food choices that can be made.
It has a shell or peel – If I don’t eat the outside of the fruit or vegetable, I am not as worried about it being organic. Removing the outside gets rid of many of the chemicals it has been sprayed with, if it has been sprayed. I’m aware that chemicals can leech into a food through the skin or the soil, but I feel better about eating something conventionally grown without the skin. If it’s locally or organically grown (in the US or Canada), you better believe I’m eating the skin (if it’s edible – think potato)!
Often, I choose local over organic, I always choose grass fed and pastured over organic, if it’s grown in North America conventionally, I will choose it over South American organic. These are not hard set rules. They are general guidelines by which I live my life. Do you choose to eat organic? Why or why not?