Why is buying organic important
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If you prefer not to consume pesticides and chemicals....no one knows for sure what the long term health effects are. The government says they are safe for human consumption.
It is less important for veggies in which you will remove the skin or peel, such as butternut squash. Bell peppers and berries, on the other hand, absorb more of the chemicals.
For meat and milk, it has to do with the antibiotics and hormones given to the animal which may be left in he product.
Really it is a personal choice in which you make the decision balancing health and wallet. You can buy both organic and conventional depending on the product. Far better to eat nonorganic veggies than none at all....
Other things being equal, the people who work the fields are safer not being exposed to noxious chemicals. Bees and our other six-legged and eight-legged friends are more likely to continue to help us grow our food if we don't expose them to noxious chemicals.
Pesticides are not necessarily confined to the surface/peel. The best current guide that compares various pesticide levels is the Environmental Working Group's "Dirty Dozen" and "Clean Fifteen": http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/summary.php
pierino is a trusted source on General Cooking and Tough Love.
Organic, especially "certified organic" can be a slippery slope. You will learn this if you talk to the vendors at the farmers market. As it turns out the principle beneficiaries of the government approved term "certified organic" are part of large scale agribusiness, like Arthur Daniels Midland. It's an issue of economy of scale. Small farmers can't afford the time and the money to deal with the paperwork and the bureaucracy. Even well known and well loved organic farmers like Coleman Family Farms in Carpenteria, CA have had to resort to using the term "chemical free".
Where I live on the Central Coast strawberries are the single biggest cash crop year after year. But healthwise, one of the most questionable because of the use of systemic poisons which go into the soil. It's worth thinking about the next time you bight into a strawberry. No amount of washing is going to get rid of that.
I must add that agribusiness piled on to defeat a California ballot measure requiring produce hybridized with GMOs to be labeled as such. No more than that. Not banned just labled! This already the practice in Europe.
I think you exaggerate the difficulty of obtaining and keeping organic certification. Here in ME, I used to operate a certfied organic farm, it was and remains pretty easy to get and stay certified. There are scores, if not hundreds, of certified farms here, most very small operators. I agree that the huge growers have come to dominate the industry. "Chemical Free" doesn't mean anything, any more than "all natural" does.
What conventional growers do to strawberries is indeed scary.
pierino, i'm assuming you are referring to non-organic strawberries?
Yes indeed, ATG. Unfortunately the great bulk of our strawberry harvest could safely be thought of as organic. A couple of years ago I did an interview with a grower who was raising organic strawberries. He just couldn't label them that way. His solution was to grow other plants between the rows which attract beneficial insects. And the berries were delicious.
Damn, I hate that there is no editing function. That sentence should read "...the great bulk of our strawberry harvest could NOT safely be thought of as organic." Whew!