Monday, March 03, 2008

Oh! Oh! Oh! I'm Having an Organic Moment!

In February, I posted about how It Ain't Easy Bein' Green. I mentioned that I’m buying some organic foods. These posts on being greener are my way of examining, out loud (out blog?), my actions and potential actions. Just writing that I was working on turning off the water while I brush my teeth made a difference. By acknowledging it, my attention became focused on it. I turn off the water now. As in all things, though, I think there has to be balance or there’s a danger of becoming fanatical. Here’s a bit of my balance.

It’s mostly haphazard, this buying of organic foods. I’m spoiled, you see. I’m spoiled by lower prices and prettier produce. Organics cost more. For far too many years, I’ve had to be frugal. I don’t know about you but I haven’t seen many generic organics. Spending more because it’s “better for me” seems kind of vague and hard to defend at times. Then we get to the arguments for and against organics.

There’s the whole “what makes it organic?” argument. There are reports and studies that show that some of the stuff that’s being touted as organic isn’t really organic after all. Then, you get all the conflicting reports about which foods are worth buying organic. Today’s general rule of thumb is that those foods with thick peels we remove, such as bananas and oranges, aren’t worth the cost of buying organic because any of the residual pesticides and chemicals won’t be in the actual fruit. Peaches, apples, and strawberries are a completely different story. The thin skin on these fruits make them worth buying organic. Some fruits and vegetables don’t, for whatever reason, absorb the chemicals. The Wall Street Journal has a pretty good article on “When Buying Organic Makes Sense -- and When It Doesn't”.

Okay. This is embarrassing. I have another problem. It’s part of that being spoiled thing; i.e., prettier produce. Because they’re not sprayed with pesticides and other chemicals, the organic fruits and vegetables have blemishes and spots and potential cooties. I have this nurturing thing going on. In fact, if I were a superhero, my tagline would have to be “Surprisingly Domestic!” I carefully choose the food I buy. Each piece of fruit or bunch of vegetables is carefully scrutinized. No bruises or dents for my loved ones! Cans aren’t dented. Meat is lean. The dairy has the furthest possible expiration date. (This obsessive attitude toward food is probably part of why I need Weight Watchers.) Honestly? A lot of that organic food looks kind of oogy. I should get over that but a lifetime of habit is hard to overcome.

Still, if I pick up something, intending to purchase it, and find out it’s organic, it really does make me feel better about it. I’ve been doing quite a bit of reading about organic meats and dairy (or at least recombinant bovine growth hormone, or rBGH free) and I think that’s going to be the next change in the Wurdibitsch House. rBGH is given to most cows to boost milk production and may cause higher rates of breast, prostate and colon cancer. That doesn’t sound like good stuff.

For my balancing act this month, I’m going to be looking a little closer at the organic fruits and veggies. I don’t know that we’re making the change but I’m considering it. I will be buying the rBGH-free milk and when the freezer full of FoodSavered meat is running low, I’m heading to the specialty butcher. Hold me. I’m frightened.

National Geographic has a quiz on Getting To Know Your Inner Organic Foodie. I liked this quiz because it has good explanations behind the answers. Unfortunately, you don’t get a score. I’m a competitive person. I like scores. I had to go to and rack up some free rice donations (and scores) to get my competition fix.

In the interest of more balance, I discovered some very funny movies to balance out all the organic/hormone/chemical/cootie talk:

The Meatrix!
Be sure to see Meatrix 2: Revolting and Meatrix 2 ½. Leo, Moopheus and their pals explore the meat industry.

After you get done there, head over to Grocery Store Wars and check out Cuke Skywalker and friends as they battle against Darth Tater.


Creative Clayer said...

I need to look more into organic meats too. I know it would be better for my daughter in the long run to eat meats without all the hormones. You would think beef in Texas is cheap, but on the contrary.

Oh, and I posted a pic or two of the marriage blessing on my blog.

Becca said...

I started eating more organically (and locally) after reading Alice Waters' newest cookbook, Simple Foods (or something like that). I find that when combined with portion control I actually am spending less. Frozen in a box and 100 calorie packs were just pricier than organic carrots. Maybe that's why I haven't felt the pinch?

The thing I like best is the priciest: a local dairy's milk. Even the skim is rich and delicious and has brought me back to drinking milk straight. But *man* is it expensive.

Ima Wurdibitsch said...

CC, my daughter is trying to do the same thing for the girls. It's hard. It's more expensive. I don't know that I could have done it when the kids were little. I haven't price-checked the organic butcher versus grocery store prices but I think they'll probably be higher. We make the changes we can.

Becca, I like what you said about portion control. I've also found that the healthier, less processed foods (whole grains and such) are much more filling than the processed foods. A little goes a long way.

Another interesting tidbit I picked up along the way came out of a book by Thich Nhat Hanh (a Buddhist monk, I think). He talked about "mindful eating." It was about appreciating each bite and chewing it slowly. He also talked about angry chickens and eating angry chickens gave you bad feelings (I'm paraphrasing horribly here). I can get on-board with mindful eating. Angry chickens sounds too much like a punk band. Can you imagine their first single? "Cluck You!" from the album, Motherfeather.

Becca said...

Ahahahahaha, that's awesome.

And I have heard of Thich Nhat Hanh although not the mindful eating thing. I want to investigate that, thanks.

Ima Wurdibitsch said...

I'll check at home to find out which of his books talks about that and let you know.