Is Organic Produce Worth the Price?
When my friend Meg stopped by yesterday, she commented on the bowl of organic cherries adorning my kitchen counter. “Cherries,” she said, “Where can you get affordable cherries?”
“You can’t,” I told her, “I paid dearly for those.”
Yes, a bowl of precious jewels.
I was thinking about that conversation later in the afternoon and it occurred to me that I rarely bat an eye over the cost of a fancy coffee or the mediocre pastry to go along with it. Yet on Sunday at the farmer’s market, found myself pausing over the price of a pound of peaches.
Why is that?
Those peaches came from a small, family-run farm that grows everything organically on a spread not far from where I live. And they’re really nice to me – samples galore — which is more than I can say for the guy who sells me that coffee drink.
The peaches were fragrant, just firm enough, and after sitting in the sunlight of my kitchen, warm and juicy to the bite.
Organic Produce is a Privilege
There’s no doubt that it is a privilege to eat such food, particularly when you consider that there are parents in this country who have to decide between dinner and diapers. And I don’t want the conversation about organic to scare folks away from eating fruits and vegetables, however they’re grown. We are already falling woefully short of eating enough produce in this country. Research shows that it is far healthier to eat conventional fruits and vegetables than to skip out because of pesticide fears.
Impact on Farm Workers
That being said, if you have the room in your budget to choose organic over conventional, I think the produce is worth the price. This is in part because of what is often left out of this conversation: the health of the hard working men and women who plant and harvest these foods. Many farm workers (and often their children) are exposed to chemicals that can have long-term health consequences. And there is also the impact on the environment to consider.
Voting with your Fork
As for where I stand, I recognize that these are complicated issues. I continue to pause at the price of organic produce, especially as my kids power through a bag of peaches before I’ve even got it unloaded from my shopping tote. I have to remind myself that when it’s available and doable, buying organic is voting with my fork. It’s choosing something that likely tastes better, and is grown with minimal impact on the earth and the people who do the hard labor of getting the food from farm to table. My hope is that the greater the demand for pesticide-free produce, the more affordable and available it will become.
Stretching your Organic Food Dollars
The Environmental Working Group puts out an annual shoppers guide of produce they deem the “Dirty Dozen” and Clean 15″. It highlights the fruits and vegetables with the most and least pesticide residues. I’d love to see them lose the “dirty” and “clean” references, but I think it’s worth knowing which foods to prioritize when it comes to buying organic.
If you do happen to have cherries sitting on your kitchen counter, or peaches in your fruit bowl, or other favorite fruits:
Check out these 8 scrumptious fruit desserts
Try this tasty Peach & Ricotta Toast
Use sliced peaches in place of apples in this Rustic Italian Cake.
Try this recipe for Pork Chops with Peach Salsa
Indulge in one of my favorites: Cherry Clafouti from Smitten Kitchen