You Deserve Healthy Organic Foods!

Organic foods used to be the only foods. Before the mass use of agri-chemicals, everybody ate pure, natural, pesticide-free produce, whether they were rich or poor. And unlike today, there was nothing elitist about it.

My grandfather, whose life spanned the entire twentieth century, lived to be well over a hundred. I am convinced, that in addition to my grandmother’s wonderful cooking, what contributed to his robust longevity, was that for most of his life, he ate pure, natural, unprocessed and organic foods, even though they weren’t called that back then. Back then, organic was just normal food and eating organic was the only way!

Until the 1960’s, most people’s diets were of natural, unadulterated food. It was only the introduction of inferior, chemically-assisted food that brought about a two-tier system and changed what poor people ate.

One of the main complaints that people have about organic foods today, is their cost. However, if this food was reinstated as the norm, it would then become relatively cheaper. Economics is a funny thing---if everybody ate organic, then the economy, including average wages, pensions and welfare levels, would alter to accommodate the new norm, as it has done with all other advances in our society. Once something becomes average and enters the mainstream, it is accommodated for within the economy.

Just as televisions and dishwashers are no longer luxuries, if the expectation of fresh, pure, chemical-free food, reached a critical mass, then it too would cease to seem expensive. The more people who demand it, the more democratic and affordable organic food will become.

I also believe that rising oil prices will make the price of chemical-free food more competitive, as agricultural chemicals become more expensive to produce.

But the cost of healthy eating is not a new problem. In George Orwell’s book, 'The Road to Wigham Pier', the author reports the outrage of a communist at how the upper classes presumed to teach the masses about healthy eating:

"Parties of society dames now have the cheek to walk into the East End houses and give shopping lessons to the wives of the unemployed. First you condemn a family to live on 30 shillings a week and then you have the damned impudence to tell them how they are to spend it."

He does have a point----the cost of good food is still a vexed question. Today, when people speak about the importance of fresh, natural food, they are often met with rage similar to that of Orwell’s demagogue.

So, please let me tell you, The Good Food Angel is no society dame and knows what it is like to live on little money, if she needs to! So let me set out my stall in relation to the cost of good food:

People like me, who advocate fresh, chemical-free, healthy organic food, are often accused of being elitist and not caring about cost. I often hear it argued that such food is ‘ fine for the well-off, but the poor need cheaper food’, as though 'going organic' was just some fashionable indulgence and not a real need.

I think this is extremely patronising to ‘the poor’, who have the very same need for good, natural food as the wealthy do. Good food should be for everybody and should not be thought of as an exclusive, or niche product.

In one of the last things she wrote before her death, Anita Roddick of The Body Shop, asked why people thought that the poor, uniquely, had less of a need for the pure, natural things of the earth. I agree with her and wish this question was more widely debated.

However, cost is only one side of the money equation and we should also consider the value of the food we buy. Organic foods do cost more, but whether or not it is truly expensive depends on your perspective. In reality, they are not themselves expensive, when considered as independent products and assessed in terms of value-for-money. They just seem expensive in relation to chemically-assisted food, which is mass-produced and force-grown in depleted soil and therefore possible to produce cheaply.

Therefore, simple price comparisons are not really fair, because an organic carrot is a completely different product to a non-organic one. They are as different as apples and oranges!

The naturally-grown carrot contains more nutrients, because it has been properly grown in good soil. It tastes better. It does not entail agricultural practices that harm both workers and the environment. It does not contribute to the cocktail of chemicals in the body of the person who has eaten it, with accompanying health risks.

If affordability is an issue, you could search for a cheaper supplier than your local supermarket. In my experience, some supermarkets really ratchet up the price of organic produce and often it is not at all fresh. You will find better value if you can hook up with a box delivery network, or even buy direct from a farm, or you might be able to shop at a farmers' market, or food co-op.

However expensive good food might at first appear, you may well find that the costs even out after a time, as Irish Times columnist, Shalini Sinha, discovered when she began eating organic:

"I, like other people, didn’t make the switch earlier because I felt the foods were too expensive for regular shopping and I didn’t really notice a difference in taste. To my surprise however, it did make a difference to my health. The first thing I noticed is I started eating less, simply because the foods were heavier with minerals and vitamins and so my body was satisfied quicker. Because I wasn’t feeling munchy between meals, my metabolism was saving energy, my body was getting stronger, I was losing weight and I needed to buy less food which also meant it hadn’t proved as costly as I first anticipated."

Budgeting for food is a question of deciding what is most important and I have always believed that the first, most important thing to spend money on, is good quality food, especially when you are feeding a child. I view the extra cost as a premium towards my long-term health and that of my family. Buying organic is, in a way, a small health insurance cost, which I am happy to pay because it helps keep us well.

I also consider the extra cost as a payment towards protecting the health of the planet. As much as possible, I feel happier, knowing that the food I buy does not cause harmful chemicals to be used, contaminating the earth and the air and the waters. If I have to pay a small premium for this, I am willing to do it.

So, why do I buy organic foods when I can buy cheaper? Firstly, I'm worth it! Secondly, I view it as one way in which I contribute to the protection of the environment. When you buy organic foods, you are, in a significant way, ‘doing the right thing’, and helping make the world a better place, as well as protecting your own health.

Read about how genetically modified foods are being forced on the world.

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Remember, healthy eating is enjoyable!

Blessings on your table!

The Good Food Angel.


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