Sultan: Is organic food worth it? | lifestyles


One of the first tips I received when I got pregnant was to switch to organic milk, eggs and chicken.

A friend, who speaks with authority when giving parenting advice, said her pediatrician gave her the advice. It’s the hormones, she says.

Back then, almost two decades ago, this change would significantly increase our weekly grocery bill. But I was just as anxious as the next middle-class mom-to-be to feed my developing baby.

I had a hunch that something was wrong with our food supply. I had seen the reports of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, bovine growth hormone, steroids and antibiotics used in commercial agriculture and factory meat production. The more disconnected we become from our food supply, the more ominous these techniques sound. I neither raised nor cultivated the food we eat, but we needed it to live. We depended on those with commercial interests in food to make sure our food was safe.

I couldn’t find definitive answers on the benefits of organic foods with the research available at the time. Nevertheless, it seemed safer to err on the side of caution. My husband, more tuned in to the weekly grocery bill, was less convinced by the idea, especially when I started expanding the list of items I preferred to buy as organic. The Environmental Working Group publishes a list of “The dirty dozen», Fruits and vegetables containing the highest levels of pesticide residues when grown conventionally. They include thin-skinned fruits like strawberries and cherries. Organic strawberries will cost between 50-100% more than conventional strawberries. If we made all the substitutions on this “Dirty Dozen” list, it would make a significant difference in our monthly food costs. Like many others, we choose our organic battles.

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