Friday, January 21, 2011

A Serious Question

OK, I'm not sure why I ponder questions like these, but I do, and again I find myself in a bit of a cranial crisis.

I try to eat and cook healthfully. We're not perfect - we love the occasional Taco Bueno or Sonic or Chili's - but my kids are no strangers to the healthier sections in our supermarket and will often beg for such things as butternut squash, spinach, and bean sprouts. I don't have a Whole Foods budget, but I try to purchase organic food where my store offers it. For example, I got randomly excited this week when I happened to notice that my store offers organic minced garlic (they don't carry organic bulbs). I didn't *need* garlic this week, but it's now in my mental file for future reference. When summer comes, we head down to the farmer's markets and see what we can get there to go with our weekly menus. These are things that the kids enjoy and that make me feel good about our diets (even if nobody could possibly lose weight eating what I fix). One of these days I'll make the effort and go buy all our meat from a butcher instead of the supermarket, but I haven't gotten that far yet.

No problems with any of this, right?

But then my brain takes a random left turn and I wind up in the familiar Quagmire of Questioning, and I hear myself thinking, "Which is better? Organic or locally grown?"

I've been in situations where I've faced this dilemma. I'll be at the farmer's market and want, say, spinach. I've run late that day, and the organic stand is out. The little stall two away has some that looks beautiful, but it's likely been sprayed with herbicide/pesticide. I know I can wash it, and it could be okay, and for years I never would have even given it a second thought, but now is now, and in the back of my mind I think to myself, "I can just grab some organic at the grocery store while I'm there." And it causes me to stop. Sometimes I get the spinach; sometimes I don't. Which is better? To get the organic product that might have 1000+ food miles under its belt but has been grown in untreated soil and without chemicals OR the locally grown that has maybe 15 food miles but has heaven-knows-what in its system?

I even wonder this about the eggs that my own chickens lay. I would have to order online if I wanted organic feed (and pay the difference plus shipping), so it's just easier to get the chicken pellets that my local feed store carries. Plus my chickens usually have the run of my back yard and get veggie scraps (usually organic) that I toss out to them. So the eggs aren't organic. But they're mine, and I don't hesitate to eat them and even share them with others. Are they better than the organic, cage-free eggs that I could buy at the store or not?

To all you foodies out there, what are your thoughts on this subject? I'm simply curious; all opinions are welcome. And if you think the whole thing is bosh and I should shut up and be happy I can afford to eat ANY organic, tell me that, too. I'm cool. I remember the days when frozen burritos and Ramen noodles were staples. So you won't hurt my feelings one bit. :)

Stay warm, y'all!


Sandra (Sam) said...

I'm of the "whole thing is bosh" train of thought. I don't add chemicals to my garden, but mainly cause I think it's a waste of money, not because I'm looking to grow organic. On that note, I refuse to buy organic (unless it's something I can't find otherwise) cause again, I view it as a waste of money. That said, I am also a big believer in "if you think it's best for your family, then it's best for your family" :)

Beth said...

I would _ for us and you know WE are weird especially about food_ have organic than locally grown. BUT the logic behind that is for mostly fruits and veggies. Especially since I can't EAT hardly ANY locally grown fruits OR vegs - we know I am allergic to those, and there is a wee chance I *may* be able to eat the ones 1000 miles away.. SOOO If the price is the same, organic 1000 miles away or local - we would go with organic just because of that. But I know that's not the answer you are seeking.. :) Just another, bizarre perspective.

Christy said...

Bless your do better than me...give yourself a break!

Mom on the Verge said...

I think that any improvement in the wholesomeness of food is a good thing. You have happy, healthy, well-fed chickens. That's good. Even if you can get some of your food organic and/or sustainable, that's a good thing.