If I was playing word association and organic came up, one of the first things I would blurt out would probably be ‘expensive’. Because no matter how much good I’m told it will do me, sometimes I just can’t get past the price. I know there are some families that try to include organic foods as much as possible in their diet, but I’m not in one of them. And it’s not just because they’re a bit on the pricey side – I’ve always got that sneaky feeling that with a lot of products, do I really know what I’m paying the extra for? Is it the health factor? More flavour? The whole organic thing confuses me somewhat. So here’s my laywomans’s view of what I consider to be important organic purchases. And the reasons why I tend to give some a wide berth…
If there’s one group of products that I would happily go organic for over anything else, it would be meat. There’s not just the ethical considerations (although I would highly recommend researching what exactly each label term means if this is important to you too), it’s the actual quality of the meat involved. I can’t remember how many times I picked up a normal supermarket chicken that’s on offer and then kicked myself when I’ve cooked it because, inevitably, it just doesn’t taste of very much at all. It’s logical that an animal that has been well-looked after is going to taste nicer. But like I said before, check for those label terms. Free range and organic aren’t the same thing.
Eggs – an essential part of my family’s diet. And, like meat, these also tend to taste better when they’re organic. I have to confess, I don’t opt for the organic ones too often, only because of the price, but I do always go for free-range. I guess it depends what you’re using it for, but there’s nothing quite like the taste of the bright orange yolk from a good quality egg.
Now, fruit and vegetables – this is when it starts to go a bit hazy. A lot of the time, and this is just my opinion, I can’t tell a huge amount of difference between the organic and non-organic kind. Now, I know a lot of people choose to buy organic fruit and veg for the potential health benefits, but I have to say, for me, the cost issue overrides this. On this occasion, I’m going with the flavour. In an ideal world, I’d love to buy organic all the time. Actually, scratch that. In an ideal world, I’d love to grown all my own fruit and vegetables. Then I’d know exactly what was going into them and I wouldn’t have objections to forking out more money for the privilege. Because I wouldn’t be forking out extra money. Because all I would have to do is walk into the pack garden with a basket (I’m picturing a one of the wicker variety) and pick what I need for my dinner. Of course, I know growing your own isn’t as easy as it looks and requires quite a lot of work and patience. When we’ve had a garden in the past, my other half has successfully produced some perfect produce and I can testify to the fantastic flavour you can get in comparison to the supermarket equivalents.
So is buying organic worth it? Well, it depends on why you buy. If it’s because you want all your food pesticide free then I suppose it is. If you want to know where your meat came from and how it was reared, ditto. But if you’re buying purely on a perceived notion of better tasting, better quality fresh fruit and vegetables, then I’m not so sure. Sometimes, I think it’s worth saving the pounds and choosing a cheaper option.