Why I Go Organic

“Is organic food too expensive?”

It’s a slippery question. I eat organic, but not because I’m rich. There are a lot of things other people consider necessities that I don’t have, and because organic food is a priority for me, cutting some things loose helps me find the money. I can’t tell you why someone else buys organic, but I can tell you why it’s worth it to me.

I first piqued to organic food in college. As a student of environmental biology, I saw that agricultural and industrial chemicals have a profound and long-lasting impact on air, water, soil and living things. I grew up in rural New Mexico. I feel a deep, spiritual connection to my world. I began to examine who I was in the world, and of the impact of my choices. Organic food protects the world I love.

I became committed to organic food when my son was born. Suddenly, here was this little guy who depended on me for everything. Pesticides are made to kill little living things, and I couldn’t see feeding those chemicals to my son. I thought of the children of farm workers and farmers, and the impact my spending had on them. And on myself and my breast milk. Even as a single-income family, we found the money for organic food.

By then, I had also discovered that organic food is delicious. Complex and hearty, it’s nothing like their bland and pithy counterparts. And that’s what they are: counterparts. We’ve had organic food for as long as we’ve been a species; “conventional” food appeared only in the last fifty years. True, there is bad organic food to be had. Mainstream stores want organic dollars without making a commitment to truly good food, so they look for stuff that fits the bill. But the vegetables and fruit grown (and cared for) by committed, organic farmers is beyond compare. I’m hooked. Better taste, more antioxidants, and other beneficial compounds. I do what I have to to make it affordable.

Of course, I thought there was nothing left that could make me a more committed organic shopper. And then came GMO’s.

Not the careful work by universities and health agencies to solve the world’s hunger and health issues. I mean for-profit genetic engineering. The kind our “regulatory” agencies are rubber-stamping for hidden and broad human consumption. When a million people signed petitions asking for GMO’s to be labeled, our government lumped them into 394 comments and halved the new GMO approval period. And since there’s no regulation of the term “all-natural,” USDA Organic-certified and Non-GMO Project-verified foods are the only trustworthy options on the shelves.

Plus, much “conventionally-grown” produce comes with huge governmental subsidies, meaning the cost of running the farm, sewing, growing and harvesting the food is being offset. By your money. That’s right: your money. Where do you think those government subsidies come from? When you buy “conventional,” you’re actually paying twice for bland, less-healthy food.

Is organic food affordable? When you look at the cost of disrupted land, water and bodily systems, now, and in the future of food, is industrial food really affordable?

What would you find if you prioritize your expenses? I can’t say what it’s worth for you to give up. But for me, in the long-run, a little more at the register is by far the less-expensive option.



2 Comments

  1. Kaye Swafford wrote:

    Thanks Valerie for this thoughtful reflection on why organic food has become so important to you. I feel the same way. It’s definitely an expense, but so is my health and my desire for a healthy relationship with the land and those who work it to provide us with healthy delicious food. Thanks, Kaye

  2. Nancy C wrote:

    Thank you, Valerie! Especially for the reminder about paying twice for ‘conventional’ food; and I had not known government condensed the million signatures regarding labeling GMOs to 394. Ouch.