The Merits of Organic Food

Have we organic-loving produce fans been duped or is science looking in the wrong direction? On September 4, 2012, Bloomberg News cited new research proclaiming organic food adds no vitamins— and only extra cost. Conducted by Stanford University, researchers reviewed 240 studies and published their findings in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

While they found 30% less levels of pesticides in organic veggies and less antibiotic-resistant bacteria in free range meat, the study focused on there being little data to show the health benefits. The study mentioned sales of organic food rose 700% in the last twelve years. But the inference seemed to be that we who shop at farmers’ markets and health food stores have been fooled, to the tune of spending 26.7 billion dollars for organic foods in 2010 alone.

However, even my mother, who swore there was no difference between the taste of margarine and butter, or whole and skim milk, couldn’t help but smack her lips after biting into a fresh peach in August from Mesa Produce. This local gem is Santa Barbara’s 7 day-a-week place to buy fresh fruits, vegetables, and a few other organic foods.

Have you noticed how tomatoes and almost all fruits purchased at the big grocery stores are devoid of taste and texture even in the height of summer? They look good in the store but disappoint once reaching the table. In contrast, what about a stir-fry with fresh organic snap peas, baby carrots, zucchini, and broccoli or a salad with crispy cucumbers, butter lettuce, and vine-ripened organic tomatoes?

I don’t mind paying higher prices to savor better flavors and to know my foods aren’t picked green and shipped across the country, or half way around the world. Lettuce from China. Pears from South America. Berries from who knows where.

Maybe I am a sucker for insisting on organics whenever possible but luckily I live in southern California where the climate and folks support small farming, and I can afford paying those higher prices. When I see field after field of veggies and see what big farmers must do to produce blemish free produce or read about how poultry, cows, and pigs live, I feel confident I’m making the right choice. Regardless of whether the health benefits have yet to be documented, I’ll pass on the pesticides if you please.

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