Q&A: Is “organic” really that important?

Today’s Q&A had me thinking: is “organic” really that important?

Someone on IG asked, “What is your take on organic food, avoiding paragons, and other chemicals in food and products we use? Do you avoid certain things or examine food labels?”

First, I want to disclaim this by saying I don’t live in a community struggling with widespread starvation or malnutrition, so I have the extreme privilege to be picky about my food and the products I bring into my home. Obviously in scenarios where food is scarce, a GMO corn cob is better than going hungry. But I also believe we humans waste SO MUCH that there would truly be enough for people if we got smarter about our practices, so is GMO food truly necessary?? Ehhh, I’m tempted to say no BUT THAT’S NOT YOUR QUESTION…

N E WAYZ. I do shop mostly organic. My gut feeling about pesticides and added chemicals and preservatives is that they can’t be good for us, and I do think they’re harmful, but even if I’m wrong, there’s no harm in going organic just to be safe. Plus, here in France, organic produce is extremely affordable! WAY more so than in Florida where I grew up. I actually bought like 2 kg of organic gala apples for less than 5 euros the other day. I got 3 huge organic bell peppers for less than 2 euros… it’s awesome. I also DO obsessively read labels! I’ve gotten super quick about it though because I know what I’m looking for, so it never takes me more than a couple seconds to skim a label and see what’s up.

What I look for in food:
– sugar!
– sneaky names for sugar or salt
– sneaky names for soy or corn products
– stuff I’ve never heard of
Basically, if it’s all real food I can find in my house or could theoretically make from scratch if I wanted, it’s a GO. If there’s some questionable things in there, it’s a NO.

As for beauty products, I’ll be honest that I think my makeup needs some improvement. I’m just attached to what I use because my skin is sensitive and you know when you find something you like, you don’t want to experiment. But eventually I will! My lotions, soaps, and skincare are all cruelty free and many are even vegan with no chemicals.

As long as I’m fortunate enough to be able to afford to make these choices, I’ll always vote in that direction with my purchases.

Over to you! What’s your take on organic food? Is it important to you, or not so much? 

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    March 22, 2017 at 7:37 am

    I personally do buy mostly organic! I have really made an effort to clean up my makeup – Credo Beauty is great for shopping online for that kind of stuff! W3ll people is a good brand for quality, natural makeup and they even carry it at Target. I have been trying to get away from pesticides and chemicals for a good while and love that it’s becoming easier to buy those types of products (Dr. Bronner’s soap is even sold at Walmart- I have a lot of bad feelings about Walmart but the point is, these types of products are becoming more accessible to everyone and that’s a huge public health win)!

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    March 22, 2017 at 8:25 am

    I appreciate your comments. Check out this book for some really great insights into food facts!

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    Melanie Gibson

    March 22, 2017 at 8:41 am

    I agree that organic foods are ridiculously expensive over here in the US. I have a very limited budget and I still try to eat as healthily as I can (nothing in a box from a dollar store for me, thank you very much). For me, that translates into mostly buying fresh vegetables that have a peel on them so they aren’t as likely to have pesticides in them, and the best chicken and fish I can find. Occasionally I splurge and go for the grass-fed, all organic beef, because I’m not vegan, but it is more of a treat because it is priced so high. I eat a lot of eggs, and those I can get cage-free or free-range and it is more cost effective. I do the same thing you do – I read the labels and spot any sneaky names for sugar or salt right away. If I’m in the mood to make my own, sometimes I do, other times I let someone else do all the work. There are also probably bad things like parabens and sulfates lurking in my shampoo, shower gels, and who knows what else, but it gets to the point where I start to feel like I am getting too obsessed with the whole clean thing. Fortunately I have reached an age where I don’t bother with much makeup, but that could probably use some improvement as well.

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    March 22, 2017 at 9:46 am

    I’ve been pretty blissfully ignorant on the whole organic thing, but am now starting to read more and think more about the food we’re putting into our bodies in my household. I have 2 young kids and don’t want to be putting those chemicals and pesticides in their systems. We eat a very healthy diet overall, but buy very little organic at this point. I’m thinking of starting with the dirty dozen fruits/veggies and build on it from there. Meat would probably be the next thing.

    I have been very intentional with my skin care, personal care and make-up over the past 2 years so I do feel really good about that!

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    Beth Ganick

    March 22, 2017 at 10:17 am

    I’m lucky to have a fantastic vegetable garden from late spring through early fall and I rarely need to shop for produce. In the winter however the cost of organics can be prohibitive. This summer I plan to do MUCH more canning and preserving to stretch the good stuff throughout the year.

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    Christin Slyngman

    March 22, 2017 at 11:22 am

    Well said! I have a limited budget (given that I am fortunate enough to live in California), so I try to just focus on the “dirty dozen” to go organic, and I also look at labels pretty much the same way you do! It also helps budget-wise to go to the local farmer’s market when I can, and purchase fruits and veggies in season.

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    Roger . Dutchie

    March 22, 2017 at 11:57 am

    Ik probeer altijd geen verpakte producten en ook de suikers vetten en zouten te kontroleren en vers klaar maken

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    Caitlin Hartman

    March 22, 2017 at 4:08 pm

    Yay! I’m so glad you gave your thoughts on this! I try to do all organic and I also check labels to see if I can make what I’m buying, if not, it goes back on the shelf. However, I feel like it’s still a controversial topic in the states and I get a lot of criticism for doing it, so I was interested to hear what it was like where you’re at! I changed over to all chemical free beauty products too and feel like I havent sacrificed quality 🙂 do it!

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    Kristin Vortex

    March 22, 2017 at 7:59 pm

    I used to think that conventionally grown produce was not as good as organic. I now realize the error of my ways. Food grown organically is not necessarily pesticide-free. It is really difficult to grow food on a commercial scale without pesticides. Often, a farmer needs to use more organic pesticides than conventional fruits and veggies to keep the bugs and weeds from destroying everything. Most fruits and vegetables that are available for purchase are already non GMO. Corn and soy products are most likely the only GMO products available in your grocery store for purchase. GMO-free and Organic are really a marketing gimmick. Getting certified as such is incredibly expensive. I would rather purchase produce from a local source that occasionally has to use pesticides than to get expensive produce that has its certifications.

    I do not prefer to use parabens on my skin though.

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    Mary Jane Jakubowski

    March 24, 2017 at 8:13 pm

    While I know that organic is best, I also know that foods that we dispose of the skin (cucumbers) don’t have to be organic. and foods that “absorb” like strawberries, organic is best.

    My favorite “processed” food is potato chips. UTZ to be exact and the ingredients for that product are INGREDIENTS

    Potatoes, cottonseed oil, and salt.

    I know and recognize everything in this list. 🙂 and it is one of my “worthy” treats (it tastes really, really good and is worth the many calories per serving). you have to be a bad yogi once in a while.

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    Alicia Watt

    March 25, 2017 at 12:05 pm

    I’m really anti-organic. Kristin Vortex commented above about the organic food market being a gimmick and I can’t agree more. I’m also super PRO GMO, because I am pro-science. I think it’s really sad that cereals like cheerios that have gone ‘non gmo’ are now nutritionally inferior. I’m all about the nutrition content. Organic produce shows no nutritional benefit vs ordinary produce. Why pay more for no added goodness and more pesticides? don’t be fooled, they use pesticides, and often more than artificially produced pesticides because they just aren’t as effective. That being said -I’m a big fan of scratch cooking, and I also read labels, but I’ve tried to educate myself on what those long weird words are and why those ingredients are included. I think education is so paramount! … and I’m not talking about a Food Babe education.

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    March 26, 2017 at 6:00 am

    organic means it conteins carbon so basically most things are organic. Sugar is organic, too.

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    April 10, 2017 at 7:38 pm

    I agree Adriana and Alicia. I’m a scientist and work in the cosmetics industry, so maybe I’m a little biased. But, in order for something to be ‘cruelty-free’ and not tested on animals, that usually mean they don’t do much testing at all. Personal care products are not regulated by the FDA, so small label companies can really do whatever they want. Larger more reputable companies follow more stringent practices because they are more at risk for lawsuits. Would you rather have your mascara be thoroughly tested for eye safety? Or take your chances with a smaller label “cruelty-free,” paraben-free mascara that may not have been tested for eye safety. Because of its “natural” ingredients it also might not be as well preserved resulting in bacterial growth in-use and a major eye-infection. The media blows things like parabens, sulfates, and “chemicals” out of proportion. Natural compounds can be deadly just as much as synthetic compounds can be harmless so make sure you do your homework before lumping things together as chemical=bad and natural=good.

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