Is "organic" really better?

[deleted account] ( 85 moms have responded )

I'm curious what everyone's thoughts are and I'm hoping we can define what "organic" REALLY means?! What the the pros and cons? Do you buy organic? Do people truly understand what "organic" is?



I'm sure this debate has been had before but this past week it has been a hot topic in our house. Let me explain. My family has been farming blueberries for 4 generations now and besides being the largest grower in BC, my parents are co-owners of a hugely successful processing and shipping plant for fresh and frozen fruit. My dad is very active in our community and participates on the North American Blueberry Council and is president of the BC Blueberry Council.....he's sort of the go-to guy in our community and surrounding communities. Anyhow, to the point.......our contract with Smuckers has recently been compromised because they found worms in the fruit after it was shipped to Smuckers and had been pureed to start the jam making process. This is one of the reasons that pesticides and insecticides can/are so important. Those farmers (my family included) who don't use (m)any chemicals (pesticides/insecticides) are being forced to spray even now that the berries have blossomed or are in great risk of wasting the rest of the crop.



What is "organic" and is it really better? Do people TRULY understand the ramifications of buying and eating organic?

MOST HELPFUL POSTS

Tara - posted on 08/09/2010

2,567

14

114

I believe in organic food. I was a research consultant for an organic produce delivery company. I was charged with the task of finding out everything I could about non organics in Canada.
The average ontario peach has no less than 17 different pesticides, fungicides etc. on it when it gets to the grocery store. Soft skinned fruit are the most heavily sprayed. Grapes are sprayed more frequently than any other fruit in canada.
I think if more people pressured companies like Smuckers to go organic than the farmers who supply them could also go organic and yes the price of jam might go up a bit, but it's worth it to, to my planet.
I grow a lot of what we eat. I also don't believe that just cause something is organic it is better for the environment. If it was grown organically in BC, and then shipped to me in Ontario, the cost to the planet is greater in my opinion than eating non organic local produce. So for me the rules are easy. Local and Organic first, Local second, organic third.
I also try to buy our meat as locally as possible, preferably from a farmer I know, I like to know my food had a happy life before I eat it. :)
It's too bad about your parents business. Again if more people demanded organic from the big businesses they would have to support organic suppliers.
:)Tara

Sharon - posted on 08/09/2010

11,585

12

1315

I'm not sure that organic tastes better because it is organic. More that it has to be fresh. It can't sit around at all. It can't "ripen" on its way to you because it has such a short shelf life. So you have to get it fresh as fresh can be. Does that make sense?

Charlie - posted on 08/09/2010

11,203

111

409

I LOVE my food and quiet frankly organic tastes 100x better , for example chicken , organic is smaller but a completley different colour and the taste is amazing .
The jury is still out on nutrients .

I buy from local farmers markets , i dont mind if theres a worm in my apple i just chuck him out , i dont mind if my apple isnt all shiny round and perfect.

The cons of organic is it doesn't have a long shelf life , i do pay that little bit extra though in store but the markets are fairly well priced .

[deleted account]

Husband is convinced that the reason there are so many girls hitting puberty so early is because of the hormones and chemicals that are put into food. If you think about it, why wouldn't it? Hormones put in chickens and cattle make the animals bigger to produce more meat. And right after this conversation really took off, there was a report on the world news tonight about the age of puberty in girls being lowered to age 7. The two causes sited? Obesity and chemicals in food and the environment.

Sharon - posted on 08/09/2010

11,585

12

1315

Oh! & I'd like to point out that I raise organic free range eggs (that sounds so weird since the eggs don't range anywhere) and its fucking expensive!

1. animal depredation. I loose young birds to hawks frequently. sometims a bird will just decide that it doesn't want to go home and try to roost outside the yard & pens.

2. it hasn't happened yet but disease. If a disease hits my flock - it'll run through it like mexican water through a tourist.

3. feed. another pricey factor. being free range cuts back a bit on feed in one way but they burn more energy and need more food in their pen.

4. injuries. this cost is minimal since i do all my treatments myself but they have to be topical only to stay in the organic side of things. But if it gets bad they have to be euthanised and now I'm down a bird. I've read that I can treat them with antibiotics - I just can't use the eggs for some time afterwards.

I choose this route because I like free range birds - i believe they have happier lives. I went organic because THAT supports my flock. I charge PREMIUM prices for their eggs. $10 a dozen for duck eggs $10 for A single goose egg - for eating $50 for hatching, $5 - 7 for chicken eggs. And in some places - my prices are cheap! Crazy ain't it?

Anyway - those prices let me take really good care of my birds and put a little aside to buy new birds regularly incase something happens to the main flock. Like last year when the family of bobcats decended on us.. :::: sigh ::::

This conversation has been closed to further comments

85 Comments

View replies by

Bailey - posted on 09/02/2010

67

62

2

GMO foods concern me much more than pesticides too. Here is a pretty alarming article that I read on the subject. GMO food has been linked with sterility, and some research subjects (rats) even grew hair inside their mouths as a result of eating GMO soy. We avoid it at all costs! We don't even eat corn or corn products anymore since virtually all of the corn sold in the US is GMO. http://www.responsibletechnology.org/uti...

Another concern: GMO salmon. Please read and sign this petition if you don't wish to eat GMO salmon. I know I don't!
https://secure3.convio.net/cfs/site/Advo...

Johnny - posted on 08/11/2010

8,686

26

322

Ah, that's good. There's a lot of mosquitos down there from what I've seen. My girlfriends parents actually used to own a berry farm down there too. But they lived on the property. They sold it a couple years ago.

[deleted account]

Carol - we don't actually live on our property there. We live in suburban Abbotsford but all of our farming property is down in the Matsqui flats.

[deleted account]

I buy local fruits and veggies for the most part. I honestly have no idea whether it is organic or not (except the tomatoes, they are organic), but I am pretty sure they are not using industrial grade chemical steroids on these veggies or fruit b/c they tend to be a lot smaller than what I see in the store.

I do buy fruit and veggies at the store that I cannot get locally, and I don't usually look for organic. Most pesticides are topical, I think, and I can wash the food well enough to get it off. I do worry about the fertilizers, but not terribly since we do not eat a lot of those foods.

I buy organic meat--the steroids freak me out! When I first started buying chicken, a 4 pack of boneless skinless breasts was about 1lb. I stopped eating it for a while and was flabbergasted a few months back when I decided to buy some for a recipe and found that now a THREE pack of boneless skinless breasts is OVER 1.5lbs! Those are some freakishly big chickens and I'm afraid to eat them....

Charlie - posted on 08/11/2010

11,203

111

409

Shalah i agree GMO foods are more of a worry than whether foods are organic or not .

Johnny - posted on 08/11/2010

8,686

26

322

I just saw your post Dana. Yes, it is Matsqui Blues we buy from. She was in Langley (I think) when I was a kid. But she's been there for a long time. Always fantastic berries. You live beside there? Cool. I'm there almost every summer. Although now my mom often picks up my box for me.

Shalah - posted on 08/11/2010

59

7

3

Organic means that a product is free of chemical pesticides, fertilizers, and additives. It also means there are no GMO's in it, since it cannot be labeled Organic if GMO seed is used to produce it. But organic on the label doesn't mean there's no conventional ingredients, it's just letting you know at least some ingredients are organic. Vegetables, dairy products, meat, poultry, eggs, grains, raw and processed, are all included here. Because of this, I have to say I feel organics are safer, tho not always cost effective or readily available, and labeling can be deceptive. I do prefer organics to conventional, but am more and more convinced that local is best, organic aside.
I live in a farming community here in rural Oregon, and most of the farmers do things organic, not necessarily certified, but people just try to do things as naturally as possible. I try to get everything I can from the local Farmer's market and shop at locally-owned stores that sell locally produced foods before I go to any major chain stores. I avoid name brand shopping and buy products based on value. Food is food and doesn't have to be labeled organic to be healthy, hearty, real food. But organics are more supposed to guarantee that heartiness. And yes, organics are harder to produce, thus more expensive( tho not always by much, depending on where you live).
I personally for my own family choose less processed foods, foods with less additives, and ingredients over already prepared foods. Not only does this save me a lot of money, it helps reduce my carbon footprint and makes the food I feed my family of eight much healthier. Not to mention supporting my local economy and appreciating my local culture.
I am also more concerned with GMO's than organic or not. There has been little testing done as to the safety of these foods, and the small amount of data they have shows it having many negative effects on those who eat it. So I've educated myself on how to avoid GMO's. Buying organic can help, but is by no means the only thing you can do to avoid GMO's.
For more info go to nongmoshoppingguide.com .

[deleted account]

I see your point, Cathy, and agree to a large extent. Staying away from processed, pre-packaged foods (most of the time anyway) is as much part of our diet as buying local or organic produce and milk. But I'm totally not perfect with that. I do buy free range/hormone free chickens and eggs from a local farmer. But can't find any other local meat and it's not feasible for us to buy the organic/grain fed stuff from Whole Foods. And we've eaten some pre-packaged recently, because cooking makes me feel like throwing up...but that won't last forever!

[deleted account]

Yes, they're EVERYWHERE Sara. We used to do it but because we're not selling fresh fruit in the summer anymore (just shipping to our processing plant....long story) we don't have anyone around the farms to manage all the U-pickers so we've closed our doors to that. Typically it was a dollar cheaper to pick your own. Our business has shifted gears a bit....there's not a lot of money to be made selling fresh fruit.....it used to be huge production (we used to sell 3000-5000lbs per day in the summer months while fruit was in season) to get the fresh fruit out the door so with very little profit we decided to just focus on the processing/shipping end of it. We don't hand pick anything anymore....it's all done by machine. It just didn't make sense when we could get close to the same price from the processing plant for machine picked berries vs. hand picked....hand picked just doesn't make sense and there's been a huge shift.

[deleted account]

Are there any pick your own farms? Around here, all the blueberry farms will allow you to come and pick your own blueberries. It's a ton cheaper. Something like $2-3/pound, which is a lot of blueberries.

[deleted account]

Haha! We call them pint baskets here but ya, that sounds about right. They hold just under a lb. and organic here (in BC Canada) would sell for roughly 5$ in the grocery store. IF you go to a local farm you'll probably pay (4 years ago when I was actually working at the family business) around 3 dollars per lb. Non-organic sold for 2.25/lb that same year. I'm not sure what the prices would be this year. I'm guessing a bit more then that. The fact that blueberries are a huge trend right now, and the process price/market factoring in would determine the fresh fruit price.

OMG! It's midnight here and I'm not making sense anymore....I have a lot more useless facts about blueberries I'll share with you in the morning. LMAO! I'm such a nerd. Sweet dreams

Charlie - posted on 08/09/2010

11,203

111

409

Normal blueberries are so expensive here , like $5 dollars a punnet .

[deleted account]

Meh, not a huge fan! Perhaps it's because I've grown up with them?! I dunno....some varieties are better than others.

[deleted account]

Carol, you come to Abbotsford every year to buy blueberries? Seriously? Do you know the name of the farm? Or where it is? I'm guessing it's not us (Makara Farms) because we're not certified organic but right next door to us there's a little overgrown (can't spray for weeds, LOL) organic farm. I think she calls herself "Matsqui Blue"....maybe?

Johnny - posted on 08/09/2010

8,686

26

322

Well, that sounds terrible! My ex had worms when he came back from Africa and it was nasty. I was just thinking that mushed up dead worms was no big deal, but parasites are a whole other "can of worms". (I'm feeling a bit silly tonight).

Our family does buy organic blueberries by the box from the same farm (in Abbotsford) every year. We've been going there since I was a kid and there has never been any problem. I wonder if there are just too many people attempting to farm organically but either not knowing enough about it or trying to go on the cheap. It does cost more often. Although, according to a few organic farmers I know, most years it actually costs less, and then in other bad years, it is way more expensive. It makes their prices less stable, and that is very frowned upon by the food marketing boards. It does seem that mainstream economic thinking does inhibit the success of organic farming quite a bit. And the fact that people get a bit snippy if they don't get any strawberries for a year because there was some sort of blight. Personally, I'd rather skip a year (and I ♥ strawberries) than consume a lot more pesticides.

Charlie - posted on 08/09/2010

11,203

111

409

Im also wonder about the effects of chemical pesticides on the earth , atmosphere and how it affects the environment .

Jaime - posted on 08/09/2010

4,427

24

197

The worms actually pose a health risk Carol...at first I thought the same as you until Dana and I did some good ol' google research about it. Some of the worm parasites can attach to your organs and cause major damage...although I'm sure that's extreme cases.

Johnny - posted on 08/09/2010

8,686

26

322

Dana, just referring to your OP... are the worms unhealthy to eat? Do they impart a particularly bad flavor in the jam? I'm just wondering why it is such a concern for Smuckers. I could personally care less about eating smushed up worms in my jam (extra protein IMO, lol) but obviously if there is something specifically problematic about it, I can understand. Just looking for a little clarification.

And on the organics issue, I find it perplexing when people say that there is no point in eating organic because the food isn't higher in nutrients. I don't get that at all. I mean obviously it isn't, is the point of organic really about reducing the level of pesticides in food (because of course there is still some) rather than a particularly better quality of food?

[deleted account]

Abbotsford, BC's (where I live) slogan is we're "the country in the city". We're the fifth largest city in BC but we have the best of both worlds....

Gotta run. It's bathtime....

Jaime - posted on 08/09/2010

4,427

24

197

hmmm, subway smog or cat urine...we could make our own global warming salad, with a side of 'nature's' fertilizer...lol

Isobel - posted on 08/09/2010

9,849

0

286

trade you for my subway smogged up tomatoes ;P ...and my Dad lived in London when I was growing up, and in Windsor now...I totally know where you are :)

Jaime - posted on 08/09/2010

4,427

24

197

Frig Laura...don't stomp on my 'death to organics' lobby! lmao.

I live in St. Thomas (about 15 minutes outside of London...two hours from the T dot). And I guess I never considered the plethora of farmer's markets in Toronto...I think I was more trying to convey the aspect of convenient, urban living...so thanks for squashing that! Crap, now I have to admit that I'm probably wrong...gonna go eat some of my urine- soaked tomatoes and pout now...

Isobel - posted on 08/09/2010

9,849

0

286

I'm in Toronto, and you can't go down the street without tripping over a farmer's market :) It's definitely more convenient to head to the grocery store, but we have more options too. And, believe it or not...we are surrounded by nothing but farm land...half hour out of the city and you are in local produce heaven :)

[deleted account]

Speaking of racoons....we found Roxanne's pool brutalized in the backyard. The lil' buggar chewed through the quick connector thingy mabobber and left it across the yard before he left. ASSHOLE. This is the second pool....my guess is that they're trying to drink the water but c'mon...

Jaime - posted on 08/09/2010

4,427

24

197

Sharon, I definitely believe it's possible to live organically...or more organic than not. I just think the opportunity to do so is still fewer and farther between. Farming communities probably have a better chance. I live in a small town so in all sincerity I could switch and be more tipped to the organic side if I had the money to do so. The price difference for someone on assistance is substantial because I have actually tried to take a naturopathic approach to my food consumption, only to realize that two bags of groceries and $100 later wasn't going to last me the two weeks until my next grocery day. In places like Toronto (I live in Canada) though, I think it's almost impossible to be strictly organic because there's such a push toward fads and big city, urban, convenient living. Stouffer's lean cuisine vs. Sharon's whole-grain bunny surprise...you know?

Perish the thought of my son with big 'C' cup boobies...even if he is gay! lol

Isobel - posted on 08/09/2010

9,849

0

286

my "attempt" at an "organic" garden fed the raccoons and the squirrels pretty well this summer ;) I did get lots of Tomatoes though, and they were yummy too...though, like you said, not so sure just how organic they can be with the subway running past every 3 minutes ;P

[deleted account]

LMAO@ Jaime.....I hope Gray's boobs aren't bigger than yours either.

You bring up a very valid point....."HOLLYWOODIZED". There has definitely been a huge shift in how we eat....healthy = cool these days but I also wonder how much of eating organic is actually healthier? Trendy, definitely! More expensive, absolutely! Healthier, perhaps?!!

Sharon - posted on 08/09/2010

11,585

12

1315

Theres always surgery for your busty 16 yr old boy if nothing else.

Yeah, i refuse to get all spastic about this. If its not organic, is it genetically modified, just HOW organic is it?

Our area is not farm land, we get our water from a well, fertilizer comes from our own herd of bunnies, ducks, chickens - all raised organic - we're pretty friggen organic, lol. BUT we don't eat our chickens or our bunnies so we're missing some really expensive meals! Gourmet quality at that. Makes me wish I could be just a bit more practical... damn.

But we're lucky - we don't have to try particularly hard to BE organic. Its pretty much a product of where we live. When we have a garden - we use chili powder and natural plant toxins (can't think of the word) to deter pests.

I'd like our own dairy cow. But I'm not sure any of us would have time to take care of it and milk it and keep it bred to get the milk and then there are the calves .... I think we'll stick with store stuff....

Jaime - posted on 08/09/2010

4,427

24

197

I have organic tomatoes growing in my garden right now. Well okay, I'm pretty sure they were organic when I started out but I have on occasion sprayed them with our city water and I'm pretty sure a neighbourhood cat has peed on them a few times...guess that ends my organic tomato dream! lol



So, in all seriousness, I hadn't put much thought into this topic until Dana approached me about it today as a potential topic of conversation. As it turns out, it's on a lot of people's minds, so it's obviously very worthy of discussion. I did some research about organic and free-run, free-range, battery and worm infestations and such wondering what the true cons of organic are. Well my questionable tomato garden is a start! How can anything be truly organic? April mentioned breast milk earlier in the conversation, only to be reminded that it is not even truly organic. If a woman has a cup of coffee, takes a tylenol, needs to take anti-biotics, etc... I think like most things in the public sphere, organic has been 'Hollywoodized'---yes damnit, that is a word because I said so! Over the past decade I've seen a major throwback to 'eating organic' and 'all natural'...no preservatives, no trans fats, no additives, blah, blah, blahbeddy blah. But as some have pointed out, and as some of the articles show...just how organic is organic? And I really have to wonder; how much of what is popular, is popular BECAUSE it is endorsed by the celebrity world...Some yoga, a nice organic salad for lunch and a cruise to the beach in the new hybrid---if you ain't livin' organic, you ain't livin'. I'm inclined to think it's not all it's cracked up to be, nor is it an easy lifestyle to obtain or maintain. Certainly there are some organic changes to be made, starting with food...but organic just seems like a fad to me, and not much of a health choice.



I guess I sit on the fence yet again, getting another wire up my butt about this particular topic. I buy local produce when I can, I don't particularly focus on buying organic meat or dairy because I don't consume a lot of it, but after reading through the information on this subject, I might take a bit more stock in just exactly what it is I'm purchasing. I'm not going to worry about it at the moment, but I hope that in 15 years, my son doesn't have bigger breasts than me because of the hormonally-enhanced meat I bought him as a toddler because it cost less and looked like more bang for my buck!

Sharon - posted on 08/09/2010

11,585

12

1315

I think they would have to. It can't be wholly organic otherwise could it? I wonder how much that would raise the cost?

[deleted account]

Sharon - does that mean they'd have to preserve the organic jams with organic sugar then?! That wasn't really a question but more me thinking out loud.

Isobel - posted on 08/09/2010

9,849

0

286

omg...she was trying not to say "screw that" or even better "fuck that"...enough already, it has nothing to do with YOU in particular...if you don't get it, I do...just trust me, she's not trying to be rude to you.

[deleted account]

I'm still taking it as rude since after I apologized you were again rude. And I am still unsure of what you mean by it anyway. Doesn't really prove much, just that one girl 15 years ago got her period early. There are some girls that have always gotten their periods early. And yes, I also know someone that got her period that early. But MORE girls are getting it earlier now. That is a problem.

Anyway, it may not be proven that organics is nutritionally better, but given the evidence that chemicals and hormones DO in fact cause problems, I'm sticking with the locally grown produce and organics I can find and afford.

And speaking of canning, we are *hopefully* going to start our own garden this fall and can. I'm kind of excited about that.

Stifler's - posted on 08/09/2010

15,141

154

604

Jams are preserved by sugar. Sealing off a jar full of fruit alone preserves fruit since it has natural sugar.

Sharon - posted on 08/09/2010

11,585

12

1315

Well there are natural preservatives. Sugar is good for preserving - old fashioned canning - no preservatives - just the nature of the method - you know what I mean? Between the heat and sealing method - stuff get preserved.

Vitamin E is also an organic ( I believe ) preservative. You'll see more & more products bragging that they use Vitamin E as a preservative.

However - stabilizers. I dunno about jams & jellies but a lot of products use chemical stabilizers - wtf that means - I dunno but its also being debated.

[deleted account]

Tara - I believe Smuckers does have or at one point tried to put an organic line out on the supermarket shelves but it's this very reason that it failed or isn't doing very well. Even with pesticides, fungacides, insecticides it's hard to get good enough quality fruit from the farms to the processing plants, to Smuckers processing plants and then onto the shelf. Organic doesn't have a long enough shelf life and I would imagine that they would have to add some kind of chemicals to it for it to be able to put on a shelf in a grocery store?!

Stifler's - posted on 08/09/2010

15,141

154

604

Yeh I only got mine in grade 8 but she got hers in grade 3 or something. Crazy.

[deleted account]

Loureen, I don't often disagree with you but I guess there's a first for everything. I think that non-organic foods generally taste better. At least that's been my experience anyhow.



I just want to point out one more thing.....bugs aren't the only threat to fresh fruit and vegetables. There's also disease that can be devastating. As far as diseases go, they don't necessarily effect the taste of the fruit but they can depending on what disease it is, AND, they can destroy an entire crop. It's a tough job to produce good quality organic food and many farmers and businesses fail as a result.



My parents farms (at one point our family owned over 400 acres) get tested throughout the year with a significant increase in the frequency of visits to test for chemical levels in the summer. This is how "organic" is determined. It's a direct correlation to the 'level' of chemicals detected when testing your fruit, water supply, soil etc. Our farms are borderline organic and are as close to it as it comes and unfortunately this year the entire rest of the crop could potentially go to waste because they're not salable.

Sharon - posted on 08/09/2010

11,585

12

1315

Laura - that is fascinating and entirely plausible. and scary. damn.

I'm glad my daughters' two best friends have their bio dads either as primary caregiver or lives next door but the second one - she is exposed to more single men and is more advanced than my daughter or the other girl. VERY limited pool here - but INTERESTING.

Sharon - posted on 08/09/2010

11,585

12

1315

Well, Emma - I'm a bit older than you - and there were some grotesquely fat kids in my schools. I thought this one kid was asian - kind of a whitish sumo wrestler look to him, until his parents came to pick him up. He was so obese the fat on his face squished his eyes. Crazy.

8 yrs old is the second grade.. thinking back... I don't recall anyone I knew getting their period at 8 but only one girl got her period in the 5th grade. The rest of us hit that milestone in jr. high.

Stifler's - posted on 08/09/2010

15,141

154

604

Stuff that is not rude. It means stuff that. Stuff having your period at 8. Jesus.

Isobel - posted on 08/09/2010

9,849

0

286

There's a third reason for the younger puberty which I have also heard...more than half of young girls are growing up in households containing male adults that are not genetically related to them...it sends all their pheromones and hormones out of whack.

and that's crazy Loureen!

and I totally agree with you about the taste of organic produce, Sharon.

Stifler's - posted on 08/09/2010

15,141

154

604

UM I wasn't being rude! What are you on about. I was stating a fact. I'm not saying there was no obesity, it just wasn't a thing yet. And the fat kids were probably half the size of fat kids these days.

Join Circle of Moms

Sign up for Circle of Moms and be a part of this community! Membership is just one click away.

Join Circle of Moms