September 5 2012
Organics: No Healthier?
A new study says organic meat and produce is no healthier than conventionally grown products.
While this is bad news for the organic industry which promotes the idea that organic food is healthier than conventionally produced food, this is great news for the average shopper who wants to provide healthy meals for their families without spending a fortune. Armed with this information, moms might more easily choose the less expensive item and that’s a good thing for many families struggling in this economy.
I have some personal experience with this. As the mother of three small but extremely hungry boys, I’m constantly making decisions about my children’s diets. The reality is kids eat and drink a lot! For instance, I go through a gallon of milk in a matter of days which brings my weekly milk budget to just over ten dollars. Yup, that means I spend over $500 a year on MILK! If I purchased organic milk, my costs would double; which is why I stick with the non-organic option.
Being on a strict budget means one must make these sorts of food decisions each time they go to the store. My family eats a lot of chicken, ground beef and turkey, canned beans and fruit, cheaper vegetables like onions, carrots, cabbage and green peppers and the less expensive fresh fruits like apples, grapes and melons—all non-organic. Strawberries are a treat as are other berries like blueberries and raspberries (my kids could easily make poor, emotional celebrity chef Jamie Oliver cry because they probably wouldn’t recognize an expensive blackberry).
Yet, not everyone is on a budget like me and that’s why I firmly believe people should be free to buy whatever they want within their own budget. People who can afford organic food should be free to purchase it. Yet, we should stop making people feel guilty for choosing the less expensive option, particularly when obesity is so prevalent among people who live below the poverty line. People interested in the issue of food should encourage people to make good food decision that fit into their own budgets. When poor people are told organic food is the only way to go (like food nanny Alice Waters often does), it serves as a financial disincentive for them to purchase healthier whole foods—like fresh vegetables, fruits and meats.
Critics of this study may have a point when they say the study doesn’t account for the fact that organic food is pesticide, hormone and antibiotic free. That’s true and for those who worry about those issues, they still have the option to go organic. But, as for whether organic food contains more vitamins and other healthy nutrients, people can be assured that the cheaper option is just fine.
And that’s good news for me, my household budget, and my boys.