May 30, 2008

Eating Organic

I'm going to deviate from my usual local Asheville info or events, because I came across this article about the 12 foods you should eat organic whenever possible. It says a lot of the same things my Aunt, who owns an organic, community supported agriculture farm, has told our family - so I thought I would share! The ones in bold are the ones I most whole-heartedly agree with and buy every time I grocery shop for those items. Don't worry, at the end I'll tie it into the local Asheville/WNC region!

1. Meat (include eggs, but eat them locally organic, free range)
2. Milk (always, always, always. Some comments on the related article seem to believe that organic milk isn't pasteurized... pretty much all grocery store milk is pasteurized. Organic milk lasts longer, tastes better, and is ultra pasteurized to make this happen. Organic doesn't mean straight from the cow's udder.)
3. Coffee (also add fair trade to this requirement)
4. Peaches
5. Apples
6. Sweet bell peppers
7. Celery
8. Strawberries (I usually don't buy strawberries because conventionally grown strawberries scare me, and organic strawberries are usually $6 and still sold by Driscoll. I haven't done the research or anything, but I suspect that if the same grower who uses lots of pesticides also grows organic, there's probably some cross-contamination going on there.)
9. Lettuces
10. Grapes
11. Potatoes
12. Tomatoes

Some important things to note:
Good farming practices are what's important. Don't buy organic from huge agri-business... period. Among other things, they overuse the soil - today it takes a handful of apples to get the same nutritional value that our parents and grandparents got out of just eating one. In addition, it may be cross-contaminated in packaging plants (remember the fiasco with spinach awhile back?).
Local food is always better. Huge corporate agri-business takes food from a CA farm, to a mid-west packaging plant, and finally to your grocery store. Go to your local co-op or farmer's market, and your produce will taste better and last a few days longer. During the spinach crisis, we were eating lettuces grown by local/regional farmers. If you can't eat organic, just eat local. Especially with the way gas prices are going, the prices for food traveling across the country is going to keep skyrocketing. But your local farmers' prices shouldn't change too much.
Independent organic certification is important! USDA organic means basically nothing, so look for another label on the packaging for an independent organic certifier.

I could probably go on, and on. But don't take it from me - check out this resource list. It includes articles, web sites, books, and movies. Growing Awareness is among several other great documentaries on community supported agriculture and organic food.

(here's the local part...)
Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project (ASAP) is a great Web site for local farms, apples, tailgate markets, CSAs and U-Pick farms. Plus restaurants, bakeries, grocery stores, bed & breakfasts, and other supporting organizations that sell or market local agriculture.


Lance said...

We try to eat organic as much as possible, although with the price of food skyrocketing it's sometimes hard. I've found, in general, that trying to eat locally raised, sustainably fed meats, has done amazing things for us as a family. We've gone from eating meat almost every day to only once a week at most. The cost is what got us there, but the benefits to our health are what will keep us there. :)

As for veggies, grow your own!

Shellmo said...

This is great information - I am trying to move towards buying more organic food - it's not only a great health booster but also good for your local growers! (we need all the help we again in Michigan's slow economy.)

Kelly said...

lance, that's great to hear - i'm a vegetarian, but i'll eat local, organic, sustainable chicken and turkey (i love that tupelo honey gets their meat from warren wilson college). one day, when i'm a homeowner, i'd love have a giant organic vegetable patch in my backyard! :) it's how everyone should do it.

Kelly said...

shellmo, glad this was helpful to you. i really believe you should buy organic when you can, but buy LOCAL even over organic. so, for example, if you have two choices for carrots, and one comes from a small local farmer (who isn't organic) & the other is from a massive, but organic, agri-business... always pick the local farm option! you probably won't get salmonella tomatoes that way! (and how relevant is that recent news to this blog post!)