Mar 21 2011

Organic Produce – Too Expensive?


There’s no question that organic produce can be pricey.

My friend over at Dim Sum and Doughnuts, was recently complaining about this very thing.

First of all, what’s the big deal with “organic” anyhow? Why does it matter?

I recently listened to, and blogged about, an interview I heard on NPR with founder, Dr. Marisa Weiss. She has been treating women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer for years, and is now herself a survivor.

She explained how she will now only buy organic produce because our bodies recognize pesticides as hormones. This is most important when our breast tissue is forming (during adolescence). She believes eating organic produce from a young age greatly reduces our risk of breast cancer.

Let’s not forget about the effect chemical pesticides have on our environment. Pesticides are particularly damaging when they are introduced into rivers, streams, and other bodies of water. This can occur when the pesticide leaches through the soil where it is applied, when it’s accidentally spilled into the water, when water run off is contaminated, or through “pesticide drift.” Pesticide drift happens when sprayed particles move, or drift, to another area. In waterways, millions of fish are killed by pesticides each year, and other aquatic life also suffers the consequences of pesticide-contaminated water. Pesticides are also known to add to air pollution as a result of pesticide drift, and some even play a role in harming the ozone layer and contributing to global warming.

If you have a choice not to put chemicals in your body and our environment,  why would you?

Oh, because organic produce is really expensive!

Well, here are a few tips to help ease the pain in the purse.

1) Plant a garden – Seeds are cheep and plants are easy to grow, and require minimal maintenance. You can check out my gardening tips under “Hot Topics”.

Here’s a picture from my first round of produce from our home garden last season. The carrots were a little on the small side, but they were huge in August!


2) Join a CSA. Community Supported Agriculture is becoming more popular, and it’s great for people who don’t have room for a garden, or are gun shy about taking the green thumb plunge.

3) Go to your local Farmer’s Market to find deals.

4) Shop in season. Berries are much more expensive in winter than summer.

According to the FDA, the 12 fruits and vegetables more contaminated by pesticides are pears, peaches, strawberries, broccoli, celery, cherries, apples, spinach, bell peppers, nectarines, grapes (and raisins), corn. At the very least, try to make these purchases organic.

In the 1950s we spent 20% of our income on groceries, now we spend 9%. We are spending half as much on fresh food and rates of heart disease and cancer are rising at staggering rates.

So, even if you do your best to cut costs, but still find it’s too expensive, it may be time to prioritize what’s important. For me, my family’s health is number one on the list. Before you shoot me, yes I understand that times are tough and it’s not always possible to spend the extra cash, but do it when you can. Growing your own food is “dirt” cheap and you can store it up for winter at the end of the season.

I can’t think of a better way to spend my money than high quality food. If you don’t pay for it now, you’ll pay for it later!

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