Organic Shmorganic

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not dissing the organic food movement. My title
is merely a reminder of what I once thought of people mooning over
organic everything.I didn’t understand it, thought it mainly for
paranoid hippies and considered that as long as my diet was balanced
with a vast majority of fresh produce, then who cares about a bit of
pesticide?

My beef isn’t with pesticides anyway. Not really. Of course I don’t want
my greens to be doused with some chemical intended to obliterate some
creepy crawly, but as with all things in food policy-land I am all about
where I’m putting my dollar.

My shopping choices have been made from a range of sources; farmers
markets to CSA membership, organic produce home delivery to shopping at
one of the “big two”. I won’t bore you with the reasons for my choices,
lets just say “As a busy mum in a muesli bar commercial…”. You finish
the sentence. I believe in diversity and balance as a general principle
to life as well as specifically to the weekly shopping trip. Oh, and
reality. Yeah a good healthy dose of that is always good.

My philosophies on organic and free range produce are in constant
development but I thought I might like to share and journal some
personal preferences.

Firstly I do try to subscribe to the principle of the “Dirty Dozen.”
That is, a list of a dozen fruits and vegetables that are considered
most contaminated by chemicals when produced by conventional
agricultural methods. The idea is that of any produce you buy, the
following choices should always be organic:

  • Apples
  • Celery
  • Carrots
  • Peaches
  • Spinach
  • Nectarines
  • Grapes
  • Capsicums
  • Potatoes
  • Blueberries/Strawberries/Cherries
  • Lettuce
  • Kale

I’ve been a bit cheeky and lumped all the berries in under one entry and
added carrots, which are on some lists and not others. They can be
slightly different from region to region. Some websites will also give
you information on the “Clean 15” which provide choices on conventional
produce you can buy that are considered to have relatively low pesticide
levels. This has proved to be contentious, with some experts stating
that regional variability and differing agricultural practices make it
impossible to generally define some produce as having “low pesticide
residue.”

I’d be interested in hearing what others think, but i can distinctly
taste the difference in some of these, particularly potatoes and
carrots, and in greens. The difference in apples and stone fruit are
also pretty startling in my opinion. I also always, always go for
organic garlic. This is probably just as much about the fact that
organic garlic is nearly always local and therefore fresher than any of
those rancid, opaque bulbs that have made their way from China, Mexico
or Spain.

Other choices I make fall under the Always, Sometimes and Never
categories:

Always

  • Free Range Eggs & Poultry
  • Free Range and Organic fresh meat and small goods
  • Fair-trade coffee
  • Organic Black Peppercorns - honestly, try it. You’ll never go back.
  • Real milk
  • Organic honey

Sometimes (but I am learning and hoping to make these choices “always”)

  • Ethical dairy other than milk
  • Fair-trade chocolate and tea
  • Ethical and sustainable fish and seafood
  • Bread
  • Coconut Cream/Milk

Never (only because I don’t know enough about them or even if they are realistic organic options to pursue)

  • Wine and Beer
  • pasta, grains and pulses
  • Oils
  • Nuts, seeds and spices
  • and so much else…

I aim to write other posts on many of these a little later and share
some reading, dining and cooking experiences. (Please let me know if
there are any that you have a burning desire to learn more about and it
might give me some inspiration.)

Of course not all free range and organic are created equal. Sometimes
you go for the supermarket versions and other times you have time and
money to source even better or even grow your own.

Stop and think is the key. Your dollar is your voice.