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5 Choices to Consider for Organic

September 15, 2014

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACan “not quite organic” save you money? Many are concerned about their food supply but a common comment is ” it is really really spendy.” These costs are because of increased cost of production, but also organic doesn’t always mean what people think it means. How do you reduce costs but maximize choice?

Understand that for the most part the US food supply is safe. No matter what movies and television or sensationalized expose clips say tens of millions of people eat and do so in safety. Some do have concerns. “I don’t want pesticides in my food” – but how far we take that is another thing. Bugs, rodents and other pests usually ruin a dinner party.

So how do you save money off ‘organic’ but exercise your choice? First realize your choices! Know what organic means – not just what you think it means. The National Organic Program sets specific standards that are in place. It’s important to note certified organic and ‘organic’ is not necessarily the same thing. I can grow a garden without pesticides and chemical fertilizers, but may not be certified organic. Often this doesn’t mean what many consumers think it means. “I get recall notices by email from the health department and plenty of organic suppliers have things recalled for the same reasons that big companies do. It is not always necessary to pay more to get something healthy for your family.” Remember many things are organic – including e.coli, Japanese beetles, salmonella and squash bugs – it doesn’t mean we want them in our food!

Secondly choose on facts not on fear. There are any number of “experts” who haven’t run a farm. There are “facts” put forth that are just plain wrong at best and slanderous at worst. This creates fear in consumers and often is followed with a solution that costs quite a bit more money. If you buy produce from that garden I grew it’s still without chemicals or with a specific management. This is perhaps higher with animal products, with many claiming hormone and steroid free chicken – the fact is hormones have been banned in chicken feed for over 50 years. There are natural hormones in everything – from chicken to peas to beans to cows. Know the facts – don’t choose on fear.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThird be willing to make an extra effort. If it’s really important to you are you willing to stock up on food? Many sell half or whole beef or pig as well as lamb, poultry, rabbit and other meats. A whole pig means 180 or so pounds of meat, not a side of bacon. It’s two hams that may be ‘green’ (unprocessed) or smoked or otherwise treated.

Fourth get to know the real people that produce food. If you’re buying organic direct from a CSA or farmer’s market this is easy. If you buy at the local Piggly Wiggly it may not be as personalized but you can still talk to many who grow food from meats to produce to orchards and grains from the convenience of your home. On Twitter with #foodchat and #agchat hashtags you can tap right in to the people farming for you. Hear the individual stories.

Finally be willing to put time and effort into it. Is it worth buying fresh if it means another 10 minute drive or if you have to cut it up yourself? Are you willing to process the ‘real food’ in your kitchen at home? Sometimes it takes extra effort, but if you get a chance at 50 pounds of produce do you turn it down or freeze or can it? There are ways to save money and extend the growing season.

Food choice is an awesome thing. If you’re interested in choices, there are farmers out here wanting to provide it but they need to make a living too. Buying direct allows this – and can save you money too!

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