When it comes to shopping for food, in times like now when people need to tighten their belts, shoppers often wonder: is buying organic worth the investment? Tons of data are always being poured in the media through covering of controversial research, which makes people even more confused. The most recent to stir a debate was a Stanford study claiming “that fruits and vegetables labeled organic were no more nutritious than their conventional counterparts.”
But that’s what big daily newspapers live for: one day coffee is good for you, the next day coffee is bad for you. Wine is the way to go to avoid cardiac diseases, but careful there to not become an alcoholic in name of a healthy heart. And we keep on reading the information. How about researching it yourself? Take matters with your own hands with these three simple ideas to help put the organic-is-better claim to the test:
Give it a try for a month and then compare notes: pick one whole month to eat just organic and keep a journal with notes the experience, a sort of reverse tale of the experiment portrayed in the documentary “Super Size Me”. Bear in mind that you’ll have to cook mostly at home since the vast majority of restaurants and fast food chains don’t serve organic food. Keep track of what do you eat, how much you spend, and even your weight and waist measure. Then, after this whole month, you try and come back to conventional and keep track of the same data. This way you’ll know if organic makes a difference for you.
Research cheaper ways to go organic in your area. You might be surprised on some deals you may find. If there are local producers, and they had an overflow of whatever is in season, they often rather sell it cheaper than just let it rot. If you arrive a little in the late side in farmer markets, you might not get ot buy the prettier produce, but if something is in season and abundant, farmers will often give you deals. And even if it’s not totally organic, but local, it’s still a pretty advantage over big mass production farms. And it’s a fun thing to do on top of that, getting to bond with the farmers and food producers in your area.
Flirt with your food. Forget about information and connect in a deeper level with the food you buy. This means avoiding ready made, manufactured, packaged food (even if it’s labeled organic). Go shopping with your heart and guts, not your brain and your smartphone. Forget about reading nutritional labels for just a moment. Get into the produce section and look deeply into each offering and let the fruits and vegetables seduce you. Do you feel attracted to this orange? Does that apple makes you want to grab it and take it home? Who tempts you more, kale or broccoli? When you walk into the grains and beans section, which rice draws your eye more to it? Is it basmati or jasmin? And what about the beans, do black beans or lentils cause a stir in you? At the butcher, forget about talks of red meat is bad and fish is the best option. Focus on which kind of meat appeals to you. Maybe none of them. Or maybe something you never thought of trying, like chicken liver. Forget about data and let your senses lead you and guide to what’s best – for you.
Judith Sakhri is a San Francisco journalist with a master’s degree in anthropology and a wandering eye for art, food, music, and sustainable living. She just finished her first novel, “Catching Red Herring.”