Thursday, July 30

buying organic

an article on abc online this morning about new research results from a group in the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine reminded me of the change in my own approach to organics over the years. The research was a systematic review of 162 scientific papers published in the scientific literature over the last 50 years, and their conclusion was that they found there was no significant benefit to human health from eating organic food when using nutrient content as their main outcome of interest. This Cochorane systematic review forms the pinnacle of reference in the scientific comunity.

Over time, the idea of eating organic food for my health has been superceed by my principle for purchasing organics when the garden isnt forthcoming, for more environmental health reasons. When i say organics/organic food Im not talking about processed organics but fresh fruit and vegetables. The study admits to only measuring limited outcome variables; not micro-nutrients and not flavoids, so certainly some room for protest! For me, organics certainly can taste better (i have to say I have had some pretty shitty-quality organics over the years, probably due to being too long in the store)and they tend to keep better for longer periods of time. But now, I certainly prioritise local over organic and buy both where I can.

If you do or dont buy organics, supplement your home growns with purchased organics, what are your reasons?


innercitygarden said...

The damage conventional farming does to the soil is my main reason for buying organic, like you I try to buy my organics as locally as possible. Sometimes I buy conventional stuff from the fruit & veg shop or supermarket too, if we're broke, if the fruit & veg shop doesn't have much available (they only sell limited organics) or if we've run out of food and it's past 5pm. In my experience some organic food lasts longer, some doesn't. The broccoli from my backyard starts wilting after a day in the fridge, a friend tweeted yesterday that 6 week old broccoli from Aldi she found in the bottom of her work fridge was still looking fine (but it was creepy so she didnt' find that appealing).

Veggie Gnome said...

They didn't seem to study the effects of chemical residue on fruit & veg from pesticides, etc. on our health.

My main reason for buying organic fruit & veg and other produce, where possible, is that I do not want to have several layers of chemicals on my food. I also do not want them in the soil, water and air - so environmental reason.

Katrine said...

When i buy organics its becasue i think the farming practices will be less damaging to the environment and that there will be less chemical residue on the produce waiting to poison me. :)

When i'm buying from a farmers market i don't mind if the produce isn't organic because i'm happy to be buying straight from the farmer, but when i'm at a store i look for organic produce.

Julie said...

As you've pointed out, there's so much more to food than the macro-nutrients! Sadly, this will only reinforce the major argument I come across when talking about organic food. Like the PP's though, I buy for a) environmental reasons and b) (minimal) pesticide residues, and like you, give preference to local if local & organic isn't available.

Barbara said...

I always buy local if it's a
choice between local or organic
although I'm happy to do both
at the farmer's market
(although I don't go there
often - most of our fruit
and vegies get bought at Central
Market because I'm lazy and
can't get out of bed early on

Em said...

Interesting headlines; my mum will love them, she's always trying to convince me that there's no nutritional difference, in spite of being an almost organic gardener herself.

Generally I don't buy organic from the shops tho; I've found it too costly for our budget, and much of the fresh produce is of dubious age. Instead we grow all our veg (apart from onions) and try to buy local fruit. Or swap with neighbours and friends. I've been lucky enough to source milk and meat from friends whose farms are run sustainably, so mostly that leaves cereals and other dairy that are chemical risks. Having been a farmer and seen what some of the smaller horti growers do with chemicals I have to admit that I tend to be a bit wary of farmers market veg here, which is sad.

So I suppose the main reason we steer towards organics os to avoid chemicals and try to maximise the "freshness" of what we eat.

greenfumb said...

I too buy organic from a local delivery company because of the smaller impact on the environment but I am sure that eating less pesticide smothered food has to be better for us too.

I have often wondered why home grown food wilts so quickly when store bought seems to last for weeks, it is indeed creepy - what are they doing to it to keep it looking as if it's fresh?

Give me homemgrown wilty stuff any day.

kale for sale said...

Good question. Buying organic or not organic used to be a black and white decision and now I take into consideration a number of other factors. Is it packaged in plastic is a big one. Living in California where we always have seasonal fruit and veggies it's easy to say no to organics in plastic and choose something else or a different grower for that matter. At the markets there's also the option of buying pesticide free (from one my favorite dimpled farmers) or buying from farmers in transition to organic. Other times I simply like the farmer and I don't even think about if the food is organic or not organic. Somehow their human quality makes the food healthy. And other times I do choose non-organic simply based on price (but I still have to like the farmer or vendor) but still favor organic as the best choice when all else is aligned.

Annuska said...

I basically agree with the lesser chems and environmental impact- so I do try my best to buy organic.
Just as an anecdote though- we had some friends from Germany, both chemists, come to Australia and they thought it was hilarious to call food organic- where could you find an inorganic banana? They call it bio in Germany, which is no better in my opinion! But it is true that it is a funny name if one thinks about it that way!

Kel said...

ohh, its Friday morning , busy at work and i cant reply to you all individually without some very creative writing to avoid replication. Seems like were all pretty much on the same page re. why we choose organics, interesting that somewhere the debate morphed into sustainable farming from purely health related decisionmaking. The review certainly hasnt answered the question. i see loads more debate arising. Thansk for all your very considerered comments. As, always, they are very appreciated.