26 April 2017


Some time ago, I hosted a play date at our house. The main reason being the birthday party invitation found crumpled at the bottom of my child's backpack a week after the party. The class rule was that you had to invite everyone in the class if you distributed invitations at school, so it wasn't a close friend, but I still felt bad. And irresponsible.
Hence, the arranged play date.

Five minutes in, I knew it would likely be the only play date, but it went okay enough. At one point, the mother of the other child corralled her own kids (the one we invited and the younger sibling that tagged along) and asked if they wanted their "special snack."

Which, I'd offered fruit and Larabars, but whatever.

Her kids declined, but she sat and ate the food she bought, raving about what an exclusive Costco find it was, and how the Costco near her house probably had way more organic food than the one closest to me.

Between mouthfuls of the muffin-like snack, she asked if one of my younger children would like to try one. I asked what was in it, because allergies and a need to limit sugar, to which she responded, "Oh. Well, I mean, it's all organic. Like, organic flour. Organic sugar. Organic oats. It's all really good and healthy."

I buy organic. I do.

It's a priority of mine to limit my family's exposure to chemicals and toxins, and organic food is one way to do that.

It's also a priority to teach my children about the health benefits of food, prepare nutritious meals, and see to it that at the end of the day, they eat more a few more veggies than treats. (Okay, maybe that's better balanced out over a week.) Organic isn't the only way to achieve this.

There's a balance involved between the two goals, but there's also logic.

That logic is this: Sugar is sugar, organic or not. The fact that it was grown without pesticides does not make it any less... sugary, and it certainly doesn't make you immune to its effects.

It's the same logic that makes a conventionally grown orange a better snack than an organic, sugar-filled muffin.

Look, if you want a sugar-filled muffin, go for it. No need to justify it by touting its organic ingredients. If you ask me, I'd rather have a conventional donut. You didn't ask me, though.

I was at the grocery store recently. I picked up something to read the ingredients and saw Organic Carageenan.

Oh, good. Nothing makes an unhealthy ingredient acceptable like making sure it's organic.

My sarcasm is organic. It's okay.

We're all up to speed on the marketing tactics used to get people to buy things, right? Key phrases like, Natural, and, Green are used to entice consumers to spend money on things that really aren't what they seem. There's no real criteria for some of the phrases thrown out.

There is specific criteria that must be met for something to be labeled organic. Strict practices, applications, inspections, and fees anywhere from hundreds to thousands of dollars all go into becoming a certified organic operation.

So what about smaller organic farms that don't sell enough to necessitate being certified? Consider your local farmer that employs proper organic protocol, brings their produce to the farmer's market every week, but just can't shell out the money to become certified?

They might be lacking the certification, but they're still providing food free of chemicals and pesticides. That's worth a lot more to me than a corporation willing and able to pay the money for the USDA seal of approval on their organic sugar, carageenan, and high fructose corn syrup.

Bottom line:

• Organic is good.
• It's not always best.
• (Donuts are good.)
• Real, nutritious food over organic junk.
• A lack of certification doesn't mean pesticides

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