Thursday, December 9, 2010

Organics

We decided awhile ago to phase chemicals out of our lives as much as we could.  Not in an absurd, no I won't eat those cookies because they're made with bleached flour kind of way.  We just wanted to buy organic food and less intense chemical cleaning products (ie, we recognized the increased cost of doing so and were willing to allot more of the budget to these things).

As a side note, I heard a program on NPR a few months back that talked about how we all know that buying "whole" foods at the grocery store is more expensive than buying processed foods.  And buying organic whole foods is even more.  But the program pointed out that these things only seem more expensive to us now, in today's society.  Because ~50 years ago, people used larger portions of their income on food.  In the past 20 years, with the major increase in processed foods, our culture has shifted its thinking on how much food should cost each month.  So while whole foods seem more expensive to us vs. our current culture, if we looked at buying food the way our grandparents did, we probably wouldn't be as likely to choose cheap over wholesome.  Interesting, no?

Anyway.  Jonathan and I try to buy organic most of the time.  But I'm going to be honest with you.  There are some things I buy organic because I don't want the chemicals, but when it comes to taste, I can't really tell a difference.  Some people may disagree, but to me, most in-season fruits taste the same either way.  As do most veggies.  Organic onions make me cry more when I'm cutting them - maybe that counts for something?

BUT - there are some organic products that taste totally different to me.  Such that I think, in terms of taste, I'd have a really hard time going back.

Here's my top four.

1) Milk.
Milk was one of the first switches I made from conventional to organic (after Jonathan's parents relayed some key points of a conversation they had with a dairy farmer one night over dinner [random, I know]).  Organic milk tastes 100x better than normal.  And it lasts longer than non-organic milk.

2) Sour Cream
If you've never had organic sour cream, you're missing out.  And I always buy the lowfat kind (of both conventional and organic).  The lowfat organic tastes like full fat conventional, in my opinion - rich, full bodied, smooth, delicious!

3) Eggs
Again, I didn't think there would be a difference here.  But when I was last visiting my mom, I had eggs (conventional) for breakfast and seriously thought something was wrong with them - I thought they'd gone bad.  My mom tasted and said I was bonkers.  Then it dawned on me that I was used to the delicious, deep yellow, flavorful yolk of an organic, cage-free egg.

And 4) Salmon (and all meat, I guess)
I don't eat meat, so I'm not commenting from personal experience - but Jonathan does and he thinks organic is better.  I do eat fish, though.  And I can say fish, particularly salmon, is a different food than it's non-organic, farmed stepbrother.  It's rich, buttery, and smooth.

Note that cheese isn't on the list.  I'm sure it does taste better organic - but it's sort of hard to tell when you're buying a huge chunk of cheese if it's organic or not (and maybe I just kind of assume if I'm buying a nice, artisan-type cheese, they're making it from organic milk?).  Or the way that raw milk cheese is 300000x times better  - well, wouldn't the raw milk have to be organic?

Anyway - do you guys have any must-have organics that are worth the extra cost to you?

2 comments:

LB said...

So glad you posted the top 4, because I've been wondering about meat and eggs for a while now but really can't tell a difference unless I do a straight-up taste test. I do know that Brian bought organic milk and basically lost his mind, he thought it was so delicious.

Also, I'm curious what those key points of conversation with the dairy farmer were! Were they horrifying things that would make me change my ways? I want to know...

Sarah said...

I completely agree with eggs and am excited to try sour cream. I don't really drink milk at all so I'm not sure that I need either. However, my opinion tends to differ on general produce. I read a case study for school where an organic farmer sells some of his organic produce under a different brand name for a lower price as non organic merely to maintain the margins on their organic produce. It led me to believe that sometimes the actual organic label is a desireable price point and not necessary compared to other fresh options- like local farmers or merely cage free. Therefore, I try to buy local on produce when available but don't always worry about organic. Especially if I'm buying something where I discard the peel anyway, I tend to prefer the lower price point in those instances.