Is it ok that I don’t buy organic food?

I have a confession.

I don’t buy organic milk.

I also don’t buy grass fed meat or cage free eggs.

I make this choice consciously. It isn’t because I can’t afford it. I just don’t think it is worth the money since there is no nutritional differences according to this.

Does that mean I love my children less? Does that mean I don’t care about their health and well-being?


In the past few weeks, I have heard several women apologize to other women for not being able to afford to buy organic milk, produce or other food. And I feel bad for them. They seemed as if they felt they were failures as parents. I just wanted to hug them. And I don’t hug strangers. And these women were strangers. I overheard the conversation at my daughter’s gymnastic practice, heard it in an airport and heard it on a panel of women talking about their food purchasing.

So, then I thought, is it ok that I am not buying organic? I mean, we aren’t organic farmers. I feel that our non-organic practices are producing safe products for animal and human consumption. The pork in my freezer comes from my neighbor who has a pig farm that most would consider a factory farm. And it tastes good! Plus my kids helped butcher the pig. How do you get anymore intimate with your food?

We didn’t produce organic milk on our dairy farm. Our cows produced the same quality milk as an organic dairy cow also. Check this interview with Dr. Weese out to learn more about organic, raw or ultra-pasturized.

My brother feeds out cattle that are fed corn. It tastes fantastic. FANTASTIC! I have never gotten sick from it either. But yet I hear about how grass fed is so much safer than corn fed. I went looking for

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expert opinions and found this.

Now, I am not saying there isn’t any organic food in my house. There is. Sometimes it is the only option. If I want lettuce at Sam’s club it may be the only option. However, remember that one bad incident with organic salad

So, do you buy organic? Why? Am I a bad mom for not investing in organic food?

Comments

  1. Angie A says

    i do not buy organic unless
    A) it is a super deal (better than other type)
    B) sheer curiosity on occasion

    You are a super fab Mom. Look at the variety of foods your kids get. Its not like you are feeding them frozen corn dogs EVERYNIGHT!!!

  2. Carolyn says

    I don't buy organic. Most of the time it costs more and tastes the same. I have a super-close friend that buys absolutely everything organic and always gets a funny face when she might have to borrow something that isn't. I've read those articles you sited before–we aren't going to die. Not to mention, sometimes the organic stuff goes bad in a day and I usually waste more that way.

    I have heard that organic eggs TASTE better. I love to cook, and IN recipes, I don't taste a difference. And I don't eat eggs plain.

    Anyway–I'm right there with ya girlfriend. Sometimes i think this "hype" is an advertising scheme.

  3. Jane @ Going Jane says

    Actually, it makes you a SMART mom…because I bet you're using the money you saved by not buying organic for something more useful and/or more fun…and something that might actually make a difference to your kids. :)

  4. Farmchick says

    I buy organic when it goes on sale because no one else buys it…then it really is cheaper than the other choices. I do try to get local things…like beef, pork, eggs.

  5. Liz @ Two Maids a Milking says

    I was forced to buy organic basil over the weekend (only choice). I am all about choices and if I want non organic basil I think I should be able to buy it!

  6. Vicki V @ blestnest.blogspot.com says

    I rarely buy organic because it is so much more expensive. I think it's an unrealistic (and mostly unnecessary) splurge for most families on a budget, esp. when gas is almost $4 a gallon.

  7. Cris says

    Great post. You know how I feel about it… I don't like to spend my money on it and when stores/restaurants leave me no choice, it frustrates me to have to pay a premium that does not add nutritional value for my family.

    I love that others are able to choose what they prefer, however this guilt thing and impression that regular produce/meat is inferior is a marketing game that financially benefits the very folks generating the fear… and moms with budgets are caught in the middle.

  8. Holly says

    No, you're not a bad mom. You know the facts, and you're making an educated decision, not one based on fear. Also, I don't hug strangers either. :)

  9. Aimee says

    I guess I'm out voted here :) I do buy organic for my family, but I'm not a freak, honest! I try to buy as much organic fruits, vegetables, dairy and meat. For me, with a family of 3 daughters (and one son), I guess I worry about all the hormones and stuff in our food, and I question why girls are starting puberty at a much earlier age. I'll be honest, I've not researched this, I just decided one day I am switching. As for my eggs, for me, organic free range is the humane thing to do.

    This being said, I don't judge others. If there is a really good deal on non-organic, I still buy it. We eat out and don't think twice. We eat at friends, and don't think twice.

    I do try to buy locally grown as well. So if it's not organic, I try to know where it's coming from. All of our beef comes from a farm right in our own backyard (no literally, you can see the cows back there). I try to grow as much fruit and veggies as I can, and buy alot at local farmer markets (saves the earth on gas right?).

    All that being said, you are a great mom for making the choices you do every day! You shouldn't think twice about it :)
    -Aimee

  10. Emily says

    You mention meat, milk & eggs but what about produce? I'm concerned about pesticides we are ingesting and pesticides running off into our water supply.

    I don't care about the buzz word "organic" but there are things I do care about: I seek out meat that was not fed antibiotics. I believe that the fewer antibiotics we ingest the better so they are more effective when we do need them. And I buy farm eggs because I do think they taste better. I buy extra for them too!

    I love that we are having this conversation.

    Love to

  11. Lana says

    I'm right there with you my friend. The question that keeps nagging at my mind is "What IS organic" and then "How do I really know that this was grown according to set standards?" There really isn't much of a guarantee. I like to buy what other people grow, what we grow and raise, and the less messed with the better. I would hold our beef up to anyone's, and our cows are cron fed with a few apples mixed in around September (when they fall off the tree and into the cow lot!)

    • LIsa says

      “Organic” is defined and regulated by the FDA and food has to be certified to be called organic. “Natural” has no meaning to the FDA and even the most un-natural food can put that on its label.

  12. Leah @ Beyer Beware says

    @Aimee – I am always trying to by food that is local. Support the people that are close. Lucky for me I know that all the eggs at Kroger are from hens right here in Indiana.

    @Emily – I will buy organic produce when it is the only option or cheaper than conventional. We have a garden and I use insecticides so the bugs don't eat more than I do. So, I don't feel I can be hypocritical with the produce I buy. Also LOVE having this convo. It opens my eyes to others perspectives. Good to see things off the farm!

  13. ann says

    I don't buy organic it is my choice. I try and ask people about why they buy organic and they don't have a good answer. Talk about peer pressure with our teens. Well it is happening with adult women. Peer pressure to buy organic. All over the food ads and in the grocery.

  14. Michele says

    We also avoid the organic aisle for many of the same reasons you've mentioned. It's all about choice for your family. I know great organic farmers, just as I know great farmers who raise "regular" (maybe that will be a label someday) food. I also believe they deserve a choice.

  15. The Riggs Family says

    It depends on what I'm buying. Mostly though, we just try to buy local, which is easier in the warmer weather than in the dead of winter. I figure that the closer to home our food comes from, the better for the environment it is b/c it hasn't been trucked in from somewhere. I refuse to live in fear as well and sometimes we just don't have the money to spend.

  16. Renee says

    The closest we get to organic is the veggies we get from our garden each year. And my kids are healthy and strong.

  17. Jenny says

    Hi Leah! Great post! I really hope no one feels guilty about not buying organic for their family due to risks being overstated. I think it is a huge challenge to understand the actual risk of conventionally-produced food vs organic, because in both cases the absolute risk is very, very low and there is a lot of mis-information from all sides.

    In California at least, the quality of organic produce tends to be higher so I will often buy organic (or local) because I'm willing to pay for better tasting food. This is likely because organic is produced on a smaller scale & brought to market more quickly. This is not entirely related to the food being organic, and I'm not at all sure this is the case in other parts of the country where for most of the year produce has to travel a longer distance to market (I anticipate using frozen veggies much more often when I more to the east coast).

    In some cases, it seems organic is cost-competitive & has "taken over", for example, salad greens that are organic seem to be very affordable. In other cases, organic products are a way for firms to increase their profits through product differentiation. (for example – they can charge more for organic due to guilty moms & folks with higher incomes buying it)

    Anyway, focusing on quality/taste & nutrition as opposed to organic is a strategy that works for me and I certainly will never feel bad about not buying (super-expensive) organic milk & other products that don't have a huge advantage in terms of quality. I have been trying to buy sustainable seafood, as in this case it seems very obvious that over-fishing & destruction of habitat are big problems.

    That's my 2 cents…again great post!

  18. Jenna says

    i lived in fear and guilt about the food choices i make for years and years. i buy what is important to me to be organic, which is not much and not regularly. dont be apologetic!! :)

  19. Adrienne says

    Organic is SOOOO expensive, and we can't afford it either. Sometimes I find a good deal, but not much. I've actually been thinking I need to do something for my son's diet due to behavior, but I'm not sure what I will be able to pull off. Stopped by from PYHO. :)

  20. Chaney says

    Nope!

    My pork and beef come from my Dad's farm. My chicken comes from Sams or Aldi's. I get as much as my produce from the local farmer's market as possible. It's not organic but I think it's better then the veggies that get gassed on their way to the supermarket.

    Everything else in my life comes from Aldi's for the most part. I have a few supplements in my life that are organic… Barlean's Omega Orange Swirl (seriously like dessert!), the Kiddo's vitammins, etc.

    I used to live up in WV by MD and they had a inexpensive line of organics from the grocery store. I can't remember the chain but I loved them. I bought lots of organic then because it was affordable. Things like chickens for .99/lb or organic apples YUMMY!

  21. Amanda- Eating in Winnipeg says

    i've had a lot of health issues and i've tried to switch to a lot of organic things, but even still i don't think you have to have everything organic. but i think God meant for us to have all organic food, i mean it just makes sense. but it's really hard to do and if you'r making a lot of things from scratch and washing your fruits and veggies you're doing pretty good. and the thing is if you're going to have any sort of processed foods you're putting all that crap in you anyways. the big things you should get organic are hair, makeup, and cleaning products. those things soak into your skin and there are so many chemicals in there that are horrible for you! Also meat, go to your local farmers marker and really, you'll notice a serious quality difference too!!

  22. grain girl says

    @Aimee I raise cattle, we use hormones. I am not judging your purchasing of organic, we all make choices that are best for our families. Let me just put these thoughts out there: If you think through your feelings of girls maturing earlier, why aren't boys? If there are such high levels of hormones in meat, why aren't boys growing breasts? Research will tell you there is no difference in treated vs. non treated meat, sometimes, the meat that hasn't been treated has a higher level of hormones than that of hormone treated meat.

    @Emily We also treat our cattle with antibiotics for specific ailments. If administered properly, it's an effective way to treat stomach problems, cattle have 4 tummies to our one. Again, if administered properly, there is no residue to any antibiotic treatment. The drugs exit the system, just as in ours, otherwise, once treated with an antibiotic we'd never need that treatment again.

    I think this is a great conversation! I don't even think our local grocer carries organic options for lots of things. Even if they did, I wouldn't buy them. I'll support my fellow conventional farmers. Organic or not, I urge you all to be informed consumers and ask a local farmer!

    Lori
    http://www.ksgraingirl.blogspot.com

  23. Orange Patch Dairy says

    You are a great mom! You know the facts. There is a place for organic food in our diets, but it's not that organic is better or safer…its just a choice as to how it was raised. Rest assured that dairy and beef products are under ever increasing pressure to monitor antibiotics, but also know that NO antibiotics are allowed in the milk supply…we test milk 17 times to verify it's safety! As for hormones…do a little research into how much hormones are in plants, many plants we eat have higher levels of hormones than the meats, eggs, and dairy.

  24. Sarah says

    I love that you posted this! Organic is such a buzz word right now and a lot of people really don't know what it means.

    I do not buy organic. I never seek out anything that is organic – I do by chicken broth that is organic but only becuase it is low sodium and they don't have regular low sodium broth. I get my beef and pork for my sister who raises natural beef and pork. I get my eggs from my mom. I buy milk from the grocery store and I always pay the extra 50 cents to get local CA milk. My produce comes from the grocery store, the farmer's market, or the garden.

    I think it is really easy for people to think that organic is the answer to our many national health problems and it isn't. Organic food is not magical – it is just another choice that consumer now have at the grocey store.

    I know where my food comes from and that it is safe and healthy! Good for you for doing what is best for your family!!

    Sarah from The House That Ag Built

  25. Sarah says

    No, you’re not a bad Mom. I SUPPORT CA farmers when I buy my food! I don’t care how you grow it organic, conventional, or back yard gardeners. This is the kind of topics that creates more divide in agriculture instead of uniting that we produce food for the world. I proudly farm both organic and conventional on my farm.

    Most health care professionals seem to agree that Americans eat too much. Most farmers would agree that organic farming yields less than conventional farming. Most organic consumers agree that organic food tastes better. One reason that I believe this is the case is that organic farmers use milder herbicides and pesticides. Another reason is that organic farmers use naturally occurring fertilizers that come from the natural, but infinitely more complex (on a micro level) process of composting. A third reason is that organic farming, as far as I know, steers clear of genetically modified foods.
    Every person can choose for themselves whether they want to eat food that comes from a system that is closer or farther away from what occurs "naturally" in nature. I choose to pay a little more, eat a little less and live as close as possible to nature. That is my choice and the choice I wish everybody made for the sake of my children and my children's children.

    On a personal note. Most do not remember when it was legal to spray DDT on fields all over the world. My friend’s mother grew up on farms in Argentina where DDT was regularly sprayed. Both his mom and her brother who ran these farms have Parkinson's. Read this article, one of many that point to a connection between DDT and Parkinson's: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/2881431.stm
    Everyone back then thought DDT was perfectly safe. Since Parkinson's is not passed on through the genes it is fairly rare for siblings to both have it…http://www.doctoroz.com/videos/alzheimers-diabetes-brain Alzheimer’s and other insulin-resistance disease has new research suggesting artificial nitrates-nitrites are leading cause…think about what’s in the ham, bacon and sausage you eat.

    @lana organic farmers are certified by a 3rd party inspection. This is very comprehensive. On our 150 year old family farm in California we raise organic pork. Farrow to finish operation and have our own label that we market in Northern California. Our product speaks for itself you can taste the difference in humanly raised, vegetarian feed, confinement free, antibiotic free animals we produce. For every claim I just made in that last sentence it has to be proved in order to be on the label. Organic farming has more regulations, inspections and requirements to be compliant with to have that USDA/Organic bug on the label.

  26. Katie says

    This is fantastic dialogue. Thanks for sharing and for making all moms not buying organic not feel guilty! I don't buy organic. I do support local and American farmers whenever possible.

  27. Jodi says

    Well said! I buy a little of everything but know that I am blessed to live in a country where I have the choice. Also, I agree with @Sarah above. Organic has come to be a buzz word more than a understood standard of production. Loved the resources that you shared too!

  28. The Durrer Family says

    Thank you for posting!! And for sharing references!! This topic is such an important one right now, for the exact reason that Aimee pointed out… "…I guess I worry about all the hormones and stuff in our food, and I question why girls are starting puberty at a much earlier age. I'll be honest, I've not researched this, I just decided one day I am switching."
    The FDA has strict regulations for farmers regarding the shipment of contaminated meat and produce. Hormones in milk such as rBST are Naturally Occuring, and farmers who use it are only adding to what the cow already produces. There is a "holding period" on milk and meat products which means that the farmer Must wait unitl that medicine has passed through the system of that animal Completely before any milk or meat can be shipped for consumption. I encourage each consumer to make the choices that are right for them and their familes, health wise, budget wise, but Please, do so in an educated manner and don't assume some products are "bad" or "less healthy" strictly by labeling. I wrote a similar post on Organic dairy products.
    For a take on Organic vs. Conventional dairy products, http://durrerce.blogspot.com/2011/03/what-does-organic-mean.html

  29. Anonymous says

    No organic for the most part on this end either, because I just can't justify the cost … I must say, I'm impressed if that's the Happy Farm milk and cream (we call it Happy Cows in my house) …

  30. William says

    I suggest you still buy organic food. They can help you stay healthy and fit. Is your child into gymnastics? Well I guess you really need to buy these kind of food to maintain her fitness.

    toddler gymnastics

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  32. LIsa says

    It’ s not about nutritional value or taste, it’s about not having pesticides, hormones and antibiotics in the food that you feed your family. Organic milk, meat and vegetable are free of these things. But it probably won’t shorten your life by not eating organic, so don’t feel bad about it.

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