Is Buying Organic Food Necessary?

Is buying organic food at the grocery store a cost-efficient way to support family farmers? Not likely. Most of the profits from those products go to marketers and processors, not the families doing the actual work on the farm.

Is buying organic healthier for you and the environment? I’d argue it is, though there are millions of dollars being invested to prove otherwise to maintain the status quo and line the pockets of big food corporations. If you take the stance that’s it healthier, you better be prepared to back it up.

But that’s all a mute point here.
Source: Organic.About.Com

Organic food satisfies a consumer’s desire to take care of their own bodies, those of their families, and reduce their carbon footprint. Organic food is a lifestyle. Seth Godin says it’s a booming market because of the way buying it makes people feel, not necessarily because of what the food actually does. 

Case in point: Whole Foods. A massively successful health supermarket chain in the U.S., caters to this clientele as the healthy alternative to the big box grocery store. It’s besides the point that they sell tons of potato chips and sugar-loaded juices that’ll make people fat. All things considered they offer a healthy alternative, even though too much agave nectar is going to expand your waistline in much the way high fructose corn syrup does. But people who share a worldview that’s pro-environment and pro-organic shop there because it speaks to them. It gives them the satisfaction of doing the right thing.

I buy organic when it makes sense (read my tips on what to buy organic), but it’s not necessarily the be-all, end-all. If calorie intake and activity levels are the same between two identical twins, the one eating organic vegetables and grass-fed meats won’t be in vastly better shape than the one who doesn’t, but I’d argue they’d feel better and be healthier, and that’s worth spending money on in my case.

However, if you’re in financial dire straits, spend your money on needs like rent and electrical bills. Organic food is a want, not a need. Make the decision that’s best for you, not because Dr. Oz tells you. In some cases, the difference in cost is small enough to justify it, while in other cases it’s not (compare organic milk to regular and see what I mean).

In a perfect world we’d be able to buy all we needed direct from the farmer we know and trust down the street, but that’s not a reality in urban centres today, and the convenience of a grocery store is hard to beat.


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Mitch Calvert is a Winnipeg-based fitness coach for men and women like his former self. Heavyset in his 20s, he lost 60 pounds and now helps clients find their spark and lose the weight for life.