Why should I eat organic?
A few of my posts have mentioned Boston Organics and promised that I would explain more about the program later. Well, for all of my Boston friends, listen up! A friend from church introduced me to Boston Organics late last summer. I had looked into doing a CSA (community-supported agriculture) program that summer, but was deterred by the size of the box and fear that I would be unable to use all of the produce. Plus, traditional CSA’s do not allow you to put a delivery on hold or say “no” to certain types of produce. My friend explained that Boston Organics was like a wholesale CSA. Instead of working with one local farm, they sourced organic farms nationally in order to provide a more well-rounded year-long selection. They do have the option of a Dogma Box for people committed to only eating local, and give preference to local organic farmers for all of their other boxes. Plus, they have various size boxes with different fruit:veggie ratios, and have delivery options either weekly or bimonthly. Even better, with advanced notice, you can cancel an upcoming shipment if you are going on vacation, or have been unable to eat all of the produce in your box that week. You are also given the option of creating a “no list,” which ensures that certain types of produce will not come your way, and you can update this throughout the course of your membership. They also have add-on groceries and specialty items that you can include in your delivery! I listened to her explain this to me and fell in love with the program. It supports local farming, provides me with organic produce, and delivers it all directly to my doorstep! The convenience factor was a huge selling point for me, an increasingly busy med student who still wanted to have fresh produce on hand. But if you still need some more convincing…
Contrary to popular belief, most organic produce is not more nutritious than its conventionally grown counterparts. In fact, a NY Times article by Mark Bittman claims that the label “organic” should be the least of American’s worries since our fruit and vegetable consumption as a whole is so embarrassingly low. Simply eating more produce is sufficient to provide the nutrients we need, organic or not. However, conventionally grown produce has many other problems. Exposure to chemicals and fertilizers are linked to a whole host of problems, including diabetes, obesity, cancer, autism, Parkinson’s disease, male sterility, female infertility, miscarriage, ADHD, asthma, allergies, and many others. Also, produce grown in large-scale farms can lead to mineral depletion and soil erosion, and leads to many environmental problems. Therefore, organic produce is the healthy and environmentally responsible option. (Summarized from The Huffington Post)
For those of you who aren’t sold on organic quite yet, there is something called the dirty dozen. These are the foods that are the most contaminated by the gross chemicals that are linked to so many health problems. If money is tight or you want to ease your way into eating more organic produce, these are the ones to start with: peaches, apples, bell peppers, celery, nectarines, strawberries, cherries, pears, grapes, spinach, lettuce, potatoes. Some of the ones on this list surprised me, but mostly it makes sense. If it has a thin skin, no skin, lots of leaves, or spends a while in the ground, its is more likely to pick up a lot of those chemicals. If it is thick-skinned (think citrus or bananas) or primarily imported, it is less likely to be chemical laden.
I have never regretted becoming a Boston Organics customer. It saved me during this long, cold, snowy Boston winter from having to make the 20 minute trek to and from the grocery store. It ensured that I always had fresh produce on hand, even when classes made it nearly impossible to complete daily life tasks like laundry and cooking. It also introduced me to new foods that I would never buy on my own in the grocery store, and eventually to the wonderful world of food blogging as I pondered what to do with these curious new ingredients. Plus, even if they are not more nutrient rich, I have found that organic produce usually tastes better! Either way, I have been convinced that it is the more environmentally and health friendly way of eating, when I can afford it.
Question: What are some of your food ethics? Do you try to eat organic, local, cage-free, free-range, hormone-free, or any of the other terms that are in vogue? Why? Almost all of my produce is organic, except for the few supermarket fillers that I buy occasionally (in which I use the dirty dozen rule to decide to buy organic or not). I am looking forward to being able to eat more local produce this summer (hello Jersey corn and tomatoes!) as well as veggies from my mom’s garden. I also buy cage-free brown eggs when possible, and can usually find them on sale since I am an infrequent egg eater. I try to strike a balance between budget and conscience when making my food choices.