Although this weekend for me will be filled with 11 hours standing on my feet behind an exciting register at Wegmans, I can’t complain too too much. Working at a grocery store is opening my eyes at how our society food shops.
Since I first started working for Wegmans four years ago, it seems people’s mindsets about how they choose to nourish their bodies has made a 180 degree turn for the better.
Sure, I still ring up loads and loads of pop (or soda, whatever you call it), but I’m also cashing-out quite a bit more organic strawberries and organic chicken breasts. It’s not like prices of organically produced foods have decreased drastically in the past four years, but people are becoming more aware of organic’s health benefits…this is at least what I think.
Most foods labeled “organic” are far from cheap. But, you pay for what you get: no hormones or antibiotics injected into livestock, no pesticides sprayed on produce, no GMOs (genetically modified organisms) in packaged goods, and overall better/safer treatment of our environment.
The problem is that the conventional ways of growing and producing our food (i.e. raising our chickens cooped up in cages then injecting them with antibiotics so they don’t get sick and then making them as fat as possible with hormones, or modifying our crops so they grow fatter and faster) helps mass production. Organically grown foods take greater effort and time to produce, equaling lower supply and increasing prices for consumers.
Too much economics thinking? Sorry, I’ll change direction and talk about what exactly you should and shouldn't buy organic. I watch The Doctors and Doctor Oz pretty religiously, unless I am working, and their takes on the switch are basically dependant on the exact food. Here is a list of top foods that I feel should be purchased organic, based off of their opinions:
1) Meats: Particularly beef, because there is a link between hormones fed to our cattle and cancer growth in humans. But all poultry is high in GMO feed and growth stimulants which are passed onto us.
2) Berries: because of the bumps and crevices on strawberries, blackberries, raspberries and blueberries, it’s harder to rinse off the pesticides.
3) Potatoes: Grown in the ground, they absorb all of the pesticides, herbicides and fungicides found in conventional soil.
4) Dairy: We eat so much of this everyday and the hormones and GMOed corn fed to the cows producing our dairy products passes on to our bodies at consumption.
5) Peaches and nectarines: With their fuzzy and thin skin, the pesticide residue adheres very easily and is hard to wash off.
6) Apples: They are heavily sprayed and sometimes even dipped in wax, giving them that shiny look at the grocery stores, but organically grown apples are never sprayed or waxed, just natural.
7) Spinach: These leafy greens have twice the amount of iron compared to other greens but sprayed quite a bit…beware, you can’t get away from the pesticides by buying canned or frozen either!
8) Tomatoes: So much lycopene thought to help protect against cancer, but too much pesticide spraying too.
9) Celery: See the dirt on the celery when you pull it off the stalk? Yeah, imagine the stuff you don’t see…
10)Grapes: They are small and sprayed a lot, but don’t forget about the raisins they make. Aim for both organic because when the raisins dry up, the pesticide residue becomes more potent on the fruit.
If you’re wondering what is okay to buy non-organic, it’s basically anything with a thick skin that you can remove: bananas, kiwi, oranges and cucumbers (if you remove the skin of course).
So after all of this, you may be thinking to yourself, do all the health benefits of eating fresh fruits, vegetables and lean meats counteract their nutritional value… or are the pesticides, hormones and GMOs winning?
Write me a comment or tweet me your thoughts.