If you think the organic thing is for you, want to check out all the rave, or just want to bike around in Houston, come with us as we shop the local farmers market.
Clear as mud; the organic truth
by Michelle Smith and Natalie Davis
Lots of folks, hoping to enjoy the benefits of higher-quality, higher-nutrition foods, make the choice to go organic. More than 60 percent of Americans - nearly twice the number in 2004 - purchased organic food products last year, and organic foods are among the fastest-growing segments of the food industry. We've all been told we should buy organic. But how many of us really know why?
What does organic really mean?
Organic food is not just about a product; it is a philosophy in which the process of production is as important as the final result
Organic growers rightly believe that a farm is a diverse ecosystem, that soil is a living organism to be nurtured and that farming practices need to be concerned about the long-term health of workers, consumers, the surrounding water supply and the animals living within the habitat
Why should you eat organic?
Not only is organic food proven to be healthier, with higher levels of vitamin C, iron and calcium, it also tastes better. Because those carrots aren't forced to grow quickly in time for the Sunday dinner rush, they can develop a depth of flavour not found elsewhere.
The lower water content (non-organic foods change structure through the use of agro-chemicals and retain 26 per cent more water) not only contributes to that flavour but may also mean that, pound for pound, organic food is really the more economical option.
And it's good news for those of us striving to be 'green'. The organic farming method produces less waste, and therefore less carbon dioxide into the environment. It also goes hand in hand with a higher standard of animal care and supports farmyard wildlife.
Is this just a way to charge more for a bit of dirt on my carrots?
Number one on any naysayer's list is the price of organic food. Studies show that your organic basket could cost up to 63 per cent more. And don't expect to buy exotic favourites all year round. Even if you can get your hands on an elusive boysenberry, chances are it will have clocked up thousands of air miles to get here.
Just take a look at the long lines you're likely to find in your local natural-foods market: It still amazes me to see just how many people willingly shell out top dollar for some sort of nebulous guarantee that we're buying better health for ourselves and our families. Are we making a smart choice?
A new study of US Department of Agriculture data conducted by Washington, DC-based Environmental Working Group that says particular fruits and vegetables contain substantially lower amounts of the pesticides and contaminants routinely found in conventionally produced items. Fewer chemicals equals lower health risks, making these purchases smart ones.