Do you buy organic?

When in Lancaster I stay with Amish friends on an organic produce farm. So of course I partake of the delicious veggies- (and sometimes even pick a few) heirloom tomatoes, romaine lettuce, spinach and squash.

Taste-wise the stuff is hard to beat. However when not on the farm I rarely consume organic products. Price is one factor, but that’s not all there is to it.

Organic food seems to be one of those things where the people who are into it, are INTO it. Disciples, enthusiasts, evangelists–in any case something beyond mere consumers.

Case in point: my friend took me to a picnic sponsored by his co-op a couple weekends ago. The event, which took place on an Amish farm, was held on behalf of the co-op’s CSA (community supported agriculture) customers. Most were from New York or Washington DC, having made the long journey by car and hired coach.

After a tasty pot-luck lunch, the Amish growers, 20 or so, lined up to take questions from the crowd. People asked about the origins of seeds and whether a certain wholesome-but-exotic plant could be grown and whether more of the packaging could be biodegradable and so on. Clearly health and the environment were chief concerns for the urban visitors.

There was a lot of appreciation-and for lack of a better term-something like wonder radiating out from the audience to the assembled farmers and their families. And on that note another plus mentioned, both by the growers and customers, was the idea of community, and in particular supporting the small farming lifestyle (the Amish farmers, understandably, were big on that last point). Above all there was a sense of being a part of someting bigger than vegetables.

But while I appreciate organic food-if only for the fact that it helps my friends make a living- I’ve just never been able to get that excited about it. Not in any passionate way, in any case.

Perhaps I don’t care enough about the environment, or “sustainable practices” (a term I see widely applied, everywhere from farming to heavy industry to the corporate world, but am still not quite sure what it means). Or maybe I’m not sold on the health benefits (or the inverse of that-I’m not convinced my regular old conventional produce is doing me any harm).

I don’t mean to sound like an organic agnostic, but I think that’s what I might be. I’d love to hear some opinions from other veggie eaters though: do you buy organic? If so, why? (What am I missing?) And if not, why not?

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    1. Betsy

      Erik, All you have to do is take a whiff of some of those pesticides to know that it is bad, bad, bad for the enviornment, if not the eater. Ever notice how those professional bug/weed killer guys suit up? That should give you a serious clue. 🙂

      Having said that I would still support the local family farmer who might not use organic practices all the time above the “Industrial Organic” stuff, grown on a factory farm in Colorado or California, etc…. I think when you take the toll of shipping and degredation of conditions (I mean meat here) on an organic factory farm far away, you are doing more of your part for the environment by buying from a small family farmer. Not to mention of course, we would all love to see that way of life preserved for those who choose it.

      1. Nancee

        Do you buy organic?

        Amen! I have been buying organic wherever possible. I can’t always afford the prices of some of the items, so I do without. A few years ago I did a “clean sweep” through my house, and loaded up boxes full of dangerous chemicals, cleaning products, etc., and took them to my local hazardous waste site. I have learned that hydrogen peroxide can clean and disinfect anything, cleans windows beautifully and is nontoxic. It can’t hurt anyone unless you actually drink it. You can use it for a mouthwash, and on the other hand clean your toilet with it. I spray my kitchen counters with it to decontaminate them after washing meats in preparation for cooking. It’s also good for cleaning fruits and veggies. You can either rinse with water afterward or not.. a matter of choice. White vinegar is another staple in my home…lots of uses for it also. Those two products are “saving me,” literally, from exposure to chemicals, and from the high-priced cleaners. I got off the subject here, but yes, cancer has become rampant due to pesticides, etc., etc., etc. We, the connsumers are the only ones who can save our organic farmers by supporting them and consuming healthy veggies and fruits. Buy organic whenever possible!

    2. Marilyn from New York

      Do you buy organic?

      I do not generally buy organic produce for two reasons. On in that I can not afford the price in the grocery store and they don’t have very many organic items for sale. I do have Mennonite friends whose farm is organic so when I go to their house I eat organic food and they usually give me either food or vegetables to take home. I do believe there is a difference between organic food than regular farm produce. I think the organic tastes better than regular farm or grocery store food.

    3. By the time organic food gets to our local market, it is well past prime! I buy locally raised produce, as much as possible, and we garden. I buy very little processed food. I could buy organic flour locally, but it is too expensive.

    4. Naomi

      If you would like to learn more about pesticides, read Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring. Wondering about GMO’s, google The World According to Monsanto and watch the video (the whole thing). You might find that, while you’re not too inspired to eat organic personally, when you have kids and are thinking about their lifelong health, you change your mind. There are so many great reasons to choose local, sustainably grown foods: taste, nutrition, health, supporting family growers, environment, the economy, fun and adventure. I do think that grocery store organic foods are overpriced and a poor excuse for what food should taste like.

      1. Nancee

        Organic foods in local stores

        I agree with you that many times organic foods sold in supermarkets are not up to far with the “fresh” stuff. We have a fabulous farmers market in Grand Rapids, MI, and they offer numerous organic foods. Those are the good foods! West Michigan is also a mecca of farmland. We can buy local all during the growing season.

    5. Jessica

      I will sometimes buy organic if I have a choice, but I don’t seek it out very often. That is because it’s harder to find here fresh. There are a few local farmers’ markets but I work when they are going on so I am not able to go. Recently I tried planting my own garden, little expecting Texas to be in the worst drought on record. :o\ I did get Zuchinni, okra, black-eye peas, lima beans and gobs of lettuce from it. I tried planting cabbages, but I was never able to get them to go very long without becoming food for caterpillars, no matter what I tried. I must say, those organic farmers have my utmost respect. If I lived near Amish, I’d be busting down their doors to get their farm fresh produce. Maybe someday I’ll have someone near me that can show me how to make a garden grow.

    6. After reading The Omnivore’s Dilemma and Silent Spring, my husband and I became very conscious of our consumer and eating habits. For us, it’s not just about whether organic produce has health benefits. We’re equally concerned about the health of our land, and we’re disturbed by the serious implications of pesticides. We’ve just got one earth – we need to be careful with it.

    7. Alice Aber


      I try to buy organic whenever possible. I also raise a garden organically. I do attribute a lot of my chronic illnesses to commercial produced food that is laden with chemicals, hormones, and atibiotics. It took me years to come to that conclusion by a lot of trial and error. I started growing a garden organically and then sought out other foods that were raised organically. Over time I noticed an improvement in my health that I did not have on commercially raised foods and medicines.

      Organic raised foods have become so expensive since the government stepped in and said if you are going to claim your food is organic you are going to have to be certified which is not only very costly but quite time consuming. It takes a minimum of 3 years of testing to prove you are raising foods organically and on organic soil which has not been saturated with chemicals during prior use.

      The best organic foods are those raised locally. If it needs to be shipped any kind of distance it will have to be treated or it rots and that defeats the purpose of organic. I have made a point of getting to know the local growers and vendors at the farmers market so if I can not be there during market hours I can call them at home when I want something and go pick it up.

      I know a fella locally who raises beef, pork and chicken to sell. He is not certified due to the expense but welcomes anyone to his farm to see how the animals are raised. He has a great reputation. His prices are higher than the local grocery store but the quality of the meat is so much better. I buy from him whenever possible.

      Most people will not notice much of a difference in their health right off the bat but the long term effects of eating organic grown foods are well worth the difference in price as far as I am concerned. I am on a very tight budget and sometimes have no choice but to buy commercial produced foods in the grocery store but I still notice a difference if even half the food I consume is organic. Healthy people might not notice much of a difference compared to someone like me with chronic illnesses such as fibromyalgia, however you will still notice a long term effect I believe.

      I don’t consider myself an expert by any means but I can truly say I notice a difference in my health and of course in the tastes of foods.

      The other side of the coin is the sustainablility. Do you know that most seeds produced today are treated so as not to reproduce usable seeds? If it says hybrid on the package it will most likely not produce usable seeds that can be saved for the next years use. If it is an heirloom seed it will reproduce usable seeds that can be saved from year to year. For example if you grow Rutgers tomatoes, they are an heirloom seed. You can save seeds from some tomatoes you grow this year, to start plants next year, thereby creating a sustainability in your Rutger tomatoes and not having to rely on purchasing new seeds.

      For my garden I only purchase heirloom seeds and save from year to year. At some point, it will be difficult to purchase heirloom seeds as the big corporations such as Monsanto’s mentioned in an earlier post want to control the food chain. When heirloom seeds are no longer available on the open market watch the price of food and seeds skyrocket higher than you could have ever imagined. And without saveable seeds you will have no choice but to pay whatever they ask. In my opinion, sustainablility is vitally important for the future of this country and indeed even the world.

      OK, that’s my 2 cents worth for the day, LOL. Hope everyone is well! I’ve missed being on here but the neighbor’s are still needing a lot of help with Jean being so sick and on her way out.
      Love you all!!

      Blessings, Alice

      1. Alice I love three things about heirloom tomatoes:
        1 the exquisite taste
        2 the fantastic coloration
        3 the name! I didnt think tomatoes could have gravitas about them but ever since I met heirlooms I look at the fine fruit in a whole different light 😉

      2. Dee

        Looking for Organic Farming In Franklin County OHIO

        Hello Alice,

        I am looking for Organic local farms (vegs and live stock) in Frankin County Ohio or near by … do you have any suggestions?
        Thanks, Dee

        1. Alice Aber


          Hi Dee,

          I am not in Ohio so really not sure. You could try the local tourist bureau or chamber of commerce. Another thing you might try is to google, “local grown foods” or “local organic foods” then put in your location. I believe either the USDA or the Home Extension Office in your area could also help.

          Sorry I could not be of more help.

          Blessings, Alice

    8. I am the fellow that tried to grow organic produce, and then sell it at organic prices, then take the profit and go buy some cheaper groceries. 🙂
      While I dont like chemical farming, I am not opposed to sensible use. After all, if all the chemicals in “organic” fertilizers were named out, it would be quite a list. Or, alternatively, if “organic” fertilizers were called by their real names, marketing might be tough. Like, “Broccoli, only $2 a head, grown with fresh, green cow patties.” 🙂

      1. Mike are you saying it didnt work?That scheme sounds foolproof! 😉

        Good example about green cow patties. Like a lot of city folk I am slightly squeamish about food production. On the rare occasions I spend a morning choring and milking it just raises my respect level for the farmer! “Squeamish” goes away quick in that lifestyle.

    9. I think this is very multifacetted thing.

      I love buying local produce in autumn, everything tastes better and it is often cheap and still excellent quality. Cheap and quality, who says no to that? But the winter is long here and if I need a vegetable then I tend to choose organic. However, some vegetables I simply choose the one that looks tastiest like tomatoes. In summer and autumn I grow my own but sometimes in winter I want them despite not being in season. Then I often buy the ones from the Mediterranean because they have at least seen sunlight while the Dutch or Swedish ones that have travelled less are grown in heated green houses and have barely seen sun at all and taste like paper.

      There are a few products I buy only organic or 90% organic: eggs, chicken, coffee, chocolate and cocoa and citrus fruits. Why? These products are often produced under conditions that I do not support at all and where I feel I can make a difference for the workers and for the animals. I want to add pork here but there is no palatable organic bacon here in Sweden. However, I try to buy as much as I can from a semi-local small producer which is not organic but which actually visits the farmers they buy from and I assume that they cannot be the worst kind then and I get to support a small producer which produces a far superior product to any industry bacon there is.

      The taste of food is important to me but I find that often organic products are also of good quality.

      1. Elin I hope youll forgive me if I respond to your thoughtful post with a random comment. Your mention of pork made me recall Lanc Amish friends raising a couple family meat pigs for the first time ..The younger boys had named them dawdi and mommi (no idea why they were supposed to be grandparents, they were young oinkers). I suggested new names: Scrapple and Bacon. Almost sounds like a crime fighting duo I thought. 🙂

    10. Jan-o

      Always am quick to look for pictures to enjoy with the good articles.
      Thanks for when you do include them:)

      1. I appreciate that Jan-O! I always do try to include at least one photo…if you do see a post without photos it probably means I’m traveling and had to use my kindle (which doesnt let me upload photos) to post. In fact that’s the case today 😉

    11. Christina

      I am more concerned with buying local first and then organic. The local usually ends up being organic anyway. I generally get my fruits and veggies at my local food co-op or at one of the fruit stands in town. If the items are not local, a country of origin is listed. A few years ago, I stopped buying meat at the grocery store and started getting it from a local butcher who sells grass-fed, free-range animals. What a difference!

    12. Roberta Klooster

      Organic produce

      I’m not deeply into organic either. But have to say that Wegman’s organic carrots are so delicious that they taste sweet, and the cost is the same as for the non-organic. I do feel better when I use our son’s grass fed beef knowing it is much healthier.

      What fun to realize Elin is writing to us all the way from Sweden!

    13. Debbie Welsh

      There is a huge difference in quality, taste, and price between what I buy at my favorite Amish farmstands and what I can get at the supermarket. Even alot of other roadside stands and farmer’s markets can’t seem to compare. But I will take them and their locally grown produce any day over all that chemically treated ilk in the supermarket. I mean, how can you eat a tomatoe that’s been ” waxed ” to keep it looking nice, not to mention all the toxic stuff used while it was growing?

      Organic is great if fresh and local at the farmstand, but I don’t buy any of the overpriced stuff in the supermarket for the same reasons others have mentioned here.

    14. Leon

      Yes I buy organic but...

      Well written article! I love your term organic agnostic. I am one if those very excited organic enthusiast. My kitchen is filled with things stamped with the infamous green USDA certified organic seal. But a local small farm that might not have spent the money to be certified or maybe has one thing that disqualified tthem makes me feel much more comfortable then that green stamp. Organiccan be expensive but here is one thing to keep in mind. Organic cost more to produce yes. However this account for a small portion of the price increase. The rest of that overwhelming price tag is from the freezing corporation that have jumped on the organic band wagon just to take people’s money. I get free range organic eggs right from a farm and they are 3 dollars per dozen. That is not expensive. Eating organic can be affordable it just takes work to figure out how. I am anew blogger working hard to build an audience. Here is a link to an article on the price of living healthy and one on what USDA verified organic means if you have a moment please give us a visit

    15. Very interesting comments today. I have to keep mine kind of limited because I’m on the road again which means Im using the kindle and its tiny keyboard 😉

      I can understand the obvious visceral reaction to chemicals-intuition would say hey I dont want that near what I eat-but if they are managed well as I believe its mentioned above it seems like there can be a lot of benefit including of course higher yields.

      I also think there is a danger in reacting too strongly in the other direction. I’ve never read Silent Spring but have read about the impact of that very influential book, including the restrictions on DDT use that followed. Now when I was a kid in the 80s DDT was presented as a horror chemical, at least thats the association I made with it, due to negative environmental impact. It has a practical benefit though in controlling mosquitoes which carry malaria. The DDT ban has apparently taken a huge toll in Africa where it had previously been used for malaria prevention. So as some people have mentioned I think there is a balance that needs to be struck especially when human lives are at stake. Maybe thats a bit off topic but then again maybe not…

    16. What if the whole world went organic?

      Another question came to mind, maybe someone who knows more on agriculture could share thoughts–what would our food situation look like if there were no conventional farming/pesticides/etc, at all? In other words if everything were organic?

      I’m wondering about prices, availability and so on but also about the lifestyle impact…my guess would be that the average person would need to spend more time in the garden!

      1. chemical farming

        As an older teenager I worked on a row crop farm in Indiana. There were about 4-6 of us driving equipment in planting and harvesting times. We did about 1200 acres.
        Now, I heard the same man is doing 3000 acres with only one helper, and one part time helper. Well, only two human helpers … the others all got replaced with no-till equipment. No-till means lots of spray.
        So to your question about if the whole world went organic … life in poor countries wouldn’t change much because many of them dont use chemicals anyways (costs too much.) But for places like North America, costs would definitely go up. Now one trip with a sprayer takes care of a couple of trips over the field with a row cultivator. Not to mention the no-till planter reducing the plowing and discing to work the ground before planting. And it costs fuel and hiring someone to drive those tractors.
        So two or three men can now farm 3000 acres of corn and soybeans. Without no-till and herbicide? No way!

        1. Jane Thompson

          If the “whole world went organic” and the commercial farms had to hire more people instead of spraying as many chemicals, then there would be more jobs. Every time “progress” creates a way to make things “easier” there are people eliminated who would like to work for a living.

    17. Leon

      I can agree with that...

      Erik I agree danger come with being extreme about anything. I try my best to look at all new information objectively before drawing any conclusion. I do everything to do this even if I’m sure I already know the answer. This gives me a chance to figure out the truth. The DDT issue is a good reference to this issue. I have no doubt DDT saved and could have saved more people from malaria. However I do believe it’s contribution to life comes with a price = to suffering and maybe loss of life down the road. The problem with DDT is it is a chemical is patented bu its creator. This gives the maker of DDT a priority over the sale of it rather than the well being of people. Usually in a situation like this the financial strength of said company can influence laws media ect… The health risks of chemicals are know. My point is the other risks are the limitations that the influence of the chemical industry create. What if there was a different natural non harmful answer to malaria. And what if this answer was not patentable because of its natural origin. Is it still possible that the chemical industry could care enough about people to throw away there money just to find the best answer?

      As far as a total organic food market and the world food situation. I am sure it would be the same if not better. There is more than enough land in this country to produce food the right way. And this is still true despite industrial agriculturist damaging some of it with the unsustainable practices. Right now there aren’t enough small farms here in the USA but that is because they have been run out by the large food competition and the government agencies making it very difficult. Imagine the government announced that they were going to end all conventionally produced foods and they needed small farms to start establishing them selves to prepare for it. One thing that would happen is the huge food corporations would take their money and invest in this. Desperate land owners and unemployed Americans would line up in the millions to jump right into this conversion. The focus on figuring out how to produce food for as little money as possible would shift to how to do this organically. The national economy would get better. Organic food would get cheaper. People would be healthier. The only adverse effect would be a corporation making 20 billion per year would have to settle for 10 billion. I think they would be ok.

      Leon Francis Shelhamer
      Organically Thought

    18. Organic

      I buy organic whenever I can. Fortunately I am in an agricultural area of California so local, organic food is often available and not necessarily more expensive. I have my own free range chickens so there is an inexpensive source of organic eggs. I don’t eat the chickens. When they stop laying they just live out their retirement years blissfully scratching and pecking and sleeping in a cozy chicken house. They eat weed seeds and harmful insects and produce organic fertilizer.
      “Organic” does not necessarily mean there are no pesticides. There are some very safe and effective pesticides made from plants. Organic farmers may use any number of strategies to keep the pests away, including insects that prey on the insects that eat our food. There is a whole field of study called “Integrated Pest Management” that explores the many ways to control pests. The University of California at Davis is a leader in research and development in this field.
      Organic farming is not necessarily more expensive, either. I grew up on a farm that produced copious amounts of food and never saw any chemical pesticide used there. Alternative approaches have been known for centuries.
      Eliminating DDT may have had some serious drawbacks but I am pretty sure the effects of its continued use would have been much worse.
      When considering the cost of organic versus chemical farming it is important to consider all of the indirect costs, such as the effects on our health and the health of the planet. Factor in the stunning loss of the bees that fertilize our crops, the treatment of cancer and the imbalances in our environment and suddenly the “inexpensive” pesticides and fertilizers suddenly don’t look like such a bargain.

    19. Mike

      I love pesticides. 🙂 We could not grow anywhere near as much produce in our garden were it not for great chemicals such as Sevin. This year we had three hundred feet of green beans in our garden, which I sprayed approximately every two weeks. I am not exaggerating when I say that we harvested as many as 20 or more 5-gallon pails of beans. Enough to stock our freezer, share with neighbors, and at the end we simply stopped picking them and let them dry up so we can shell out the dried beans. In years when I haven’t sprayed consistently the bugs mutilate the plants.

      I would not touch organic broccoli with a ten-foot pole. I have a friend who tried growing organic broccoli by purchasing a lot of some sort of aphid that feeds on the broccoli worms. Somehow this does not really appeal to my appetite.

      I am sure that not all pesticides are good, and that there are great organic alternatives out there. As a retailer, I am also well aware that there is a lot of money to be made in organics. As long as there is demand for organic products there will be some supply. However I am inclined to believe that a statement made by a friend of mine who is co-owner of a large fruit company is true: if everyone farmed organically, the world would starve.

      1. The pro-pesticide view

        Mike thanks for giving us the strong pro-pesticide view! 🙂

        For me concern over pesticides seems a bit like the scare over cancer and cell phones: if there were unequivocal evidence of serious harm, it seems like we’d know about it by now, and those truly dangerous pesticides would be gone.

        Now, obviously there are some things in pesticides and other chemicals that aren’t going to be good for a body if accumulated in large amounts. But I look at it as a trade-off like anything else in this world.

        Manage the potential for harm as best you can, and realize there is never going to be a risk-free solution. But the benefits of conventional farming as you describe seem immense. I know that is not a popular view with a lot of people, but it is what it is.

        Of course you could also look at it another way–higher yields have made food cheaper, which has been a factor in greater consumption and resulting health issues, especially in the US and other Western countries–but that is really a cultural/individual decision issue. The food doesn’t force you to eat it, or in such large portions as we tend to do.

        1. OldKat

          I’m replying to your reply sort of late, I know, but I wouldn’t want anyone to think that I am anti-organic … it is just that I know that a lot of stuff that is being sold as organic isn’t. If you produce it yourself or know the producer and you are comfortable that the product truly is organic then I am sure it is worth the effort to seek it out.

          Re: Your take on pesticides, I use to have the same opinion. Several years ago a farmer that I know in the adjoining county told me that when he was a kid that the (Atwater’s) prairie chickens would “boil up out of the ditches by the tens of thousands” when you drove down the highway when he was a kid in the early 1950’s. He said that in 1957 they started using DDT to control cotton boll weevils and by about 1960 or ’61 they (prairie chickens) were virtually non-existent in our area. I am not old enough to remember them being plentiful, but I do remember when the federal preserve was established to try to save them. 45 plus years later they are just barely hanging on. If his story is true & I believe it is, then it makes you want to think long and hard about it.

    20. Robin Wyatt

      I would love to eat more natual fruits,vegies, and meats. But who in the heck can afford them. When I was young my grandparents all had gardens,fruit trees, butchered beef,pigs, hunted fished you name it. But now no one has time, and what you find in the stores are so expensive, and it should be cheaper, because they do less to it, some fertilizer water, hello! Also when I was a kid there were fruit and vegie stands every where, on every road. and you could afford it. This is the same princpel as eating health, who can afford it. The stuff that is suppose to be good for you, you need to hold down 2 jobs to afford it, and some of us don’t even have one. This is my 2 cents!lol

    21. Diane Paulson

      The Dirty Dozen

      I do wish I could afford to buy all my food organic, but I have found a medium way. The following list names the fruits and vegies that you want to avoid. They have the most pesticide contamination:

      1. Peaches
      2. Apples
      3. Celery
      4. Nectarines
      5. Strawberries
      6. Sweet Bell Peppers
      7. Cherries
      8. Grapes(imported)
      9. Pears
      10. Spinach
      11. Lettuce
      12. Potatoes.

      Avoid these and select fresh and local when you can. I go frozen organic a lot too, as flash frozen can keep those vites ready for you when fresh have reduced in value because of age. Makes sense to me. How about ya’ll? Remember this list upon eating out too.

    22. OldKat

      I pretty much don’t waste my time on it anymore. I have been following this issue for a whole bunch of years. One thing that jumps out at me is the fact that a lot of what is labeled “organic” really isn’t, at least in the way that you and I would think “organic”. Several years ago there was a federal government program to define what was organic and what was not and further more producers had to be “certified” to use the term organic in marketing their products. Really?

      The whole process was fraught with fraud, deceit and politics. Surprise, surprise. What ultimately passed was a joke. State commissions were established to yea or nay a producers request to be certified and I once heard a producer in Virginia, who was on their state commission, say that it boiled down to whether the people on the commission liked you or not as to whether or not your application was accepted. One guy on the commission saw the name of a neighbor of his, who he did not like and the application literally went in the trash can. Yet the practices that can be used by the producers in the field are open to so much interpretation that the spirit of organics often goes out the window. BTW: Technically you can be prosecuted if you use the term without being certified to do so, though I have never heard of any Organic Police enforcing this.

    23. Sharon


      As a consumer, I try to buy Organic on some items, but as you say, they are very expensive, compared to the regular items…..I also try to buy my fresh veggies from the produce (fresh) market, locally, hoping that I am contributing to saving the “Family Farms”…..there has been so many that have had to “sell out”, which I find just awful!!

      Where I live (FLorida east coast)there are no Amish farms, but we do have local farmers, who are struggling to make a living. It’s very sad — I also think, our health would be much better, if people would eat “whole foods” or farm-grown, etc…much like we did in the 50’s/60’s, where most meals were cooked at home, and from “scratch”; There were no “fast food” joints around my home town, when I was growing up, except for ONE drive-in restaurant, and to go there, was like a special “treat” maybe once a month!!! I digress — yes, I buy organic veggies, when I can stretch our budget!! Especially Milk and Eggs, and meats!

    24. OldKat

      A couple of other thoughts on organic preferences. I got these from The Stockman- Grass Farmer Magazine articles on the subject. Though their interest is mainly in locally produced grassfed meats and dairy products, the information is relevant to produce and other agricultural products. I found these interesting;
      1)When given a choice between “locally” produced products and “organic” products produced elsewhere (out of state) consumers invariably choose “locally” produced. However, locally produced organic is the most preferred option if available.
      2)In 1940 the average agricultural product was consumed with 40 miles of where it was produced. Today it is over 1,500 miles away. Though I forget the exact number … 1,547 seems to ring a bell.

      BTW: My daughter is in the very final phase of wrapping up her PhD in horticulture and agricultural economics at a major southeastern university. Her dissertation is about producer, consumer and retailer preferences and practices as it relates to locally grown (though not necessarily organic) foodstuffs; especially produce, fruit, nuts etc. in the state where her university is located. So conversations about these subjects have been fairly common within our family in the last year or so.

      1. Oldkat thanks for the interesting nuggets–and best to your daughter as she wraps up what has certainly been a long road.

    25. Tom-GA

      organic food

      The word organic is so misrepresented that it would take a Philadelphia lawyer to sort it out. I have farmers in our area to just give up trying to get certified as organic as it is not worth the process. Most people who sell produce usually practice a form of organic gardening as they supply organic materials continually to their garden. (plant and animal materials in various stages of decay–manures, leaves, rotted sawdust, etc.) This makes a fine organic soil and a healthy soil. When the soil is healthy the plants are usually healthy. Organic fertilizers are not as strong as chemical fertilizers and do not give the plants the nutrients they need when the fruits need it for good production. Also if you plant at the optimum time you won’t need pesticides most of the time. Just remember healthy soils equal healthy plants. Also a little chemical fertilizer at the right time will do wonders for your garden and will not hurt anything. The taste will be just as good and healthy as from any certified organic farm.

      1. Tom the certification process was given as one of the big roadblocks when someone asked why not more of the Amish in Lancaster are farming organically.

    26. Al in Ky.

      I grew up on a farm wheree we ate lots of good, plain food that
      either we or our neighbors grew/raised on our farms. Our food
      was “organic”, “free range”, “hormone free”, etc. without our
      knowing it. (We never used any of those words). When I moved
      to the city and started buying food in the grocery store, the
      vegetables tasted old, the eggs seemed watery, and the milk tasted
      weak. I would like to buy all organic or naturally grown food,
      but as many have said, it is more expensive. Yet, I also realize
      that I and most other Americans spend much less of a percentage of our income on food than persons in many other countries spend on food.

      I buy all of the produce, egg, meat,etc., that I can from Amish
      and other small family farmers. There are many,many Amish farmers
      who would like to raise much more produce to sell, but there is
      the big challenge of distribution — how to transport the produce from the rural communities to the urban areas where the demand
      exists, but yet do all of this at a price that is fair for the farmers yet affordable for the urban consumers.

    27. Slightly-handled-Order-man

      I try to buy Ontario mostly, although not necessarily organic. I think I might try to grow certain of my own vegetables next year. I remember how much better backyard garden produce tasted than stuff one gets in a store, from Mexico or the south-western USA, no offense to those onboard who live and work there. Organic does seem to be pricy. But if you can grow your own, even for personal use, you can control what you do with your product, so you can say you do your own organic, right?

    28. Dee

      Looking for Oranic Farmers in Frankin County OHIO

      Hello All,

      I would greatly appreciated if anyone can direct me to some organic farms Amish or not in Franklin County. I heard Lancaster Ohio has a large Amish population, but I am not sure of how to contact the farmers that are interested in selling live stock, fruits/veg’s and cheese etc… We prefer to buy directly from the farmer.

      If anyone has any contact, I would greatly appreciate it if you would share it with me.

      Thank you, Dee

    29. David


      To those who think you couldn’t raise anything without chemical pesticides, check on this.
      This is a great alternative to sevin dust and many other chemicals. It will kill about anything in the garden or home. It also won’t hurt you if you happen to ingest some of it

    30. Matt from CT

      Hmmm, comments from things I read above (paraphrased):

      1) Cost.

      The local farmer’s markets seem to me to be shooting themselves in the foot by price fixing. I’ve heard several comments this year about how much higher their prices are, and that everyone charges the same. Maybe the market is saturated so they’re demanding a premium, but it sure isn’t bringing in new consumers who recently read Omnivore’s Dilemma.

      And that includes both the organic and non-organic guys.

      2) What would the world look like all-organic?

      Well, how many billions of dollars of research went into the chemicals that otherwise would’ve gone into researching improved “organic” methods?

      Let’s take five data points for example:

      % of U.S. population living & working on farms:
      1860: 58%
      1910: 31%
      1940: 18%
      1970: 4.6%
      2000: 2.6%

      We improved the efficiency of our farmers from 1860 to 1910 when “organic” was there was.

      From 1910 to 1940 the big innovation was cheap supplies of nitrogen produced from natural gas. This was thanks to World War I — the U.S. built the munitions plant at Muscle Shoals, Alabama. In order to maintain it in a state of preparedness in case of a future war it was leased to a fertilizer company. (Recall the Oklahoma City bombing used fertilizer!)

      It was after World War II that research began between the two wars led to pesticides on a large scale. (Recall that the concentration camps used an early pesticide for poison gas).

      I’d argue the full impact of the pesticides was by 1970, and employment dropping since then is attributable to ever bigger machinery.

      So we were making steady and dramatic progress without the chemicals. I believe if we applied the same mental energy we could have achieved similar improvements organically.

      The difference being when you create a product, you sell it. It’s tough for people to learn how to make it and buy the equipment needed to do so. So it becomes a good opportunity for a big business making lots of money on lots of transactions, which occur predictably every year.

      When you create a process and teach it to people, you only sell your knowledge once. And you can’t even sell it to everyone one — people will teach each other. It’s a small business opportunity, one that doesn’t need a lot of capital, but doesn’t provide huge and predictable cash flow from annual sales.

      So yes, I believe we could feed our current and projected global population organically. It would take a lot more management, and a lot less manufactured inputs.

      3) Sevin.

      I (vegetable) garden organically.

      I don’t usually buy organic at the store. I subscribe to local over distance, and all else equal local organic over local conventional. My milk, bought raw from a local farm, is the only item that is certified organic I eat regularly.

      It took several years, and I’m still improving, for my garden to get going. Soil health has to build up to develop natural resistance to many annoying insect infestations.

      I have no problems in my garden that Sevin is an effective pesticide for. The two persistent problems I’ve had have been Colorado Potato Beetles (which I didn’t have a serious issue with this year or last, so my soil may be healthy enough to handle them), and Squash Bugs. For both Sevin is no longer an effective chemical control.

      I do use Sevin on my Asiatic Lillies to protect from an invasive species called the Red Lilly Beetle, and I do use both Glyphosate and 2,4-D on certain invasive plants and poison ivy around my property.

      Good soil has an moist, earthy smell and is full of living organisms — fungus and invertebrates. When you regularly and routinely spray fungicides and insecticides on your plants, this gets into the soil and destroys the organisms in the soil.

      This impacts many micronutrients in the soil. They’re just not available, so the plants don’t take them up and you don’t eat them.

      As you can tell by my statements above, I’m not “Orthodox Organic” by any means.

      But I support it, and I especially support only using chemicals for specific problems with a view for how do you eventually eliminate the use of it.

      Food grown with chemicals on our good New England soils will be healthier for you then those grown with chemicals in the sand of California or Florida farms. USDA used to test nutrition by state, but stopped since knowing that a carrot grown in heavy Michigan soil had more vitamins then a carrot grown in irrigated sand of Florida was a problem for marketing nationally and standardizing food labels regardless of the origin of the ingredients.

      If my choice is far off organic or far off conventional, and the price is within reason, I’ll go organic. But that organic carrot from Florida is still less nutritious due to the thin soils it was grown in compared to one from rich soils.

      Sometimes buying organic is no more expensive for me then conventional because of quantities. Sure, the organic celery or carrots are twice expensive per pound…but I couldn’t use all of the smallest package of conventional celery or carrots before they go bad. In that case, despite higher unit price it’s no more expensive to my wallet.

    31. Matt from CT

      And I just saw this link, from 2000, come up on my organic gardening board:


      The author, if I recognize the name correctly, is the wife in a family owned organic grain farm in Western New York.

    32. Lindsay

      Erik, try watching the movie Food, Inc sometime. It’s a really interesting movie about the state of food production I the US.

      I went to a Jesuit university, and we were required to take a few religions classes to graduate. Most of these classes were far from conventional, and the one I took was Food and The Bible. I had an amazing professor, who required us to read Fast Food Nation. But even more interesting, he brought up the fact that in the Bible, meals were enjoyed in fellowship with family and friends, whereas today oftentimes we eat on the run and don’t enjoy the food or company, and my professor theorized this is something all the authorities on obesity overlook when discussing the issue.

      It seems to me living in Chicago a lot of ethnic groups (I would say in particular, Eastern Europeans) demand good quality food. I like to buy organic when possible, but at the end of the day I’ll buy whatever seems to be better quality whiter or not it is organic.

      Can I complain about tomatoes? I refuse to buy hydroponic tomatoes…they taste of nothing. I think it’s worth paying a bit more to buy the vine ripened or heirloom tomatoes, which taste of the earth.

      Final thought…I have a friend who believes Whole Foods is to blame for organic food being so much more expensive. I don’t know if it is necessarily true, and I don’t quite remember his argument, but it is something along the lines of because WF is charging higher prices everyone else thinks they can.