That is the question. Actually, with all due respect to Mr. Shakespeare, today I’m asking the organics question. Though I’m pretty sure you all are not contemplating this question with the same intensity that Hamlet struggled with his question, “To be or not to be?” Truly, I’ve never heard anyone recite a 35-line soliloquy pondering their decision to buy an organic onion. But alas, my dear friends, Romans, and countrymen, lend me your ears. (Sorry…got a bit carried away.)
Here’s the deal….
Before World War II, all food was considered “organic.” It was simply grown without the use of pesticides, herbicides, chemical fertilizers, hormones, or irradiation. The foods eaten back then were unrefined, whole, and minimally processed.
But since World War II and the introduction of chemical farming and food processing, the food that we eat today has become depleted of many minerals and contains a ton of pesticides.
So if you ask me which food is better to eat for your health, of course I would say “organic.”
HOWEVER, I’m a realist. I know that organic food is not always available to us. The problem becomes the increased expense to buy organic as well as not having a choice of what we’re eating when we dine in a restaurant.
But this is what we can do….
Every year the Environmental Working Group (www.ewg.com) puts out their list of the 12 Most and Least Contaminated Produce. So look over this list. Try to buy organic when buying those fruits and veggies from the Most Contaminated list. And don’t stress over eating conventional produce from the Least Contaminated list.
12 Most Contaminated
- Sweet Bell Peppers
- Grapes (imported)
Choose the organic sweet pepper over the conventional one if possible.
12 Least Contaminated
- Sweet Corn (frozen)
- Sweet Peas (frozen)
- Kiwi Fruit
It’s fine to eat the conventional asparagus if organic is unavailable to you.
Since we can probably guarantee that the food we eat in a restaurant is not going to be organic unless it specifies on the menu that it is, my suggestion would be to eat as much organic foods as possible when eating at home.
And one more thing…
You know those annoying little stickers that are placed on the produce to hide a bruise — oh, I mean, to help with check-out and inventory control? The number on the sticker is the Price Look Up code, or PLU code. This number makes it easier, faster, and more accurate for markets to know what’s been sold. It also tells us where the produce was grown. Well, those stickers are actually very important to us if we truly want to buy what we intend to buy.
Check out the number on the sticker. If it begins with a 9, the produce is organic and grown without chemical fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides.
However, if the fruit or vegetable has a sticker on it that begins with a 4, then it is a conventional product, and not grown organically. You can eat these fruits and veggies—just make sure you are buying what you want. Sometimes the store description label will say organic, but in fact if you look at the product, the sticker will begin with a 4. This means it’s not organic, and that’s not acceptable. We don’t want to pay for something we’re not getting, right?
This is the perfect segue into another Mr. S. story. (Sorry honey, this one was classic. I must share it with our friends.)
So you all know how much I adore Mr. S. He’s the love of my life, my sunshine on a cloudy day, and my Rock.
BUT, this one particular day, it was almost all over (over organics, no less). My slippery soul mate tried to fool me into believing he bought organic bananas for me, when in fact they were not. How did I know? The sticker began with a 4. And you know what? It wasn’t so much that he came home with conventional bananas (they are on the least contaminated list); it was that he tried to snow me.
That day, we reviewed our marriage vows of truth and honesty, and I think Mr. S. had a new appreciation for Mrs. S.
Don’t ever mess with the woman who cooks your food!
So my friends, just remember these 3 things: 1) try to buy organic when you’re buying produce on the Most Contaminated list. 2) Remember to look at the PLU code on the sticker…if you want organic, it must have a 9 as the first number. 3) Parting is such sweet sorrow…. (Thanks again Mr. Shakespeare.)
But check back next week when you’ll see a new Figs & Function website: Easy-to-access blog, recipe index, how-to index, and a whole lot more fun stuff.
Until Next Time,