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"Ooo no, none of that organic stuff for me, ta..."

(101 Posts)
Lizzer Fri 06-Dec-02 13:37:46

Ok, I'm a little in shock at this comment I heard the other week and I wondered what your views were?
I consider myself to having been educated on nutrition, environment etc just through what I pick up on the tv, newspapers, through friends etc. Through this I have come to the conclusion that I would love to buy and eat organic produce ALL the time, due to the fact there are no added chemicals to the fruit and veg, that the animals are fed without additives and no anti-biotics are included in their diet and generally it is how ALL FOOD was not THAT long ago...

However, at the moment it is more pricey, budgeting is a daily part of my life but I am aware that the more people who buy the produce the cheaper it will become, so I buy what I can afford...

What scares me is the ignorance about it all is staggering. Take one woman, mid-twenties, 2 young children, well educated. When she spotted an organic milk carton at a mutual friends' house that was about to be poured into our cups of tea she quickly said, "Oh is it organic? Oh I don't like that stuff, I'll just have mine black!"
Anyone else had similar encounters?

Tinker Fri 06-Dec-02 14:04:57

Hmm, but doesn't some organic food have more dangerous 'allowed' chemicals in it? Can't remember the name but do remember reading about this recently - might even have been on here and I guess SofiaAmes know about these things.

Demented Fri 06-Dec-02 14:14:27

Lizzer, I like you buy what I can organic, I do think organic milk has a different taste mind you, maybe this is what she didn't like, IMO it tastes nicer and this is my biggest reason for buying organic, most of the time it tastes better. DS1 agrees preferring organic apples, kiwis and raisins. As a family we all prefer organic potatoes. Would be interested to learn about the 'allowed' chemicals Tinker mentioned but do feel that you probably can't win and should just go for what you like.

Marina Fri 06-Dec-02 14:26:34

SofiaAmes is a bit of an expert on the matter so hopefully she will pick up on this thread - I think she was saying that sulphites, an approved organic pesticide, is pretty nasty stuff (on the grapes and spiders thread).
My parents were initially sceptical, Lizzer, but the better taste of organic chicken and carrots in particular won them over in part. They still think we are mugs deep down, I know it...our builder remains unconvinced too, scoffing at our Rachel's Dairy milk!
Someone somewhere did a really good "league table" of which fruit and veg were a good buy organically, on the basis of their absorption of pesticides, and which were possibly a waste of cash. Baby veg, if you buy this, might as well be bought non-organic, because it's had little opportunity to absorb anything much from the soil. But bananas, carrots, celery, apples, potatoes and some other produce should be bought organic if possible.
I am like you entirely self-educated on this matter, but what I try and do as far as possible is buy local (Kentish in my case) seasonal produce, rather than organic stuff flown right round the world. And for animal welfare reasons, I really won't buy non-organic meat and fish or dairy produce unless it is from a named local supplier. We had some top Swaledale lamb from Borough Market last month, by the way!
Don't really bother with organic processed foods, though - not from the supermarkets anyway. That to me does seem to be a waste of money.

whellid Fri 06-Dec-02 15:24:56

This is interesting as I'm really not sure one way or another about organic produce, and tend to only buy it if it's on a special offer or reduced!

Looking around there have been a couple of reports recently looking at organic food, so just to throw into the debate -

A study funded by the UK Food Standards Agency reported that organic and free range chickens were twice as likely as battery hens to be contaminated with campylobacter. However, this was a small study and can't necessarily be taken as representative.

And the US Institute of Food Technologists recently said: “Organic foods are not superior in nutritional quality or safety when compared against conventional foods. Yet organics do have the potential for greater pathogen contamination. Thus, purchasing organically grown produce is not necessary for safety or nutritional reasons."

They claim that neither organic nor conventionally grown foods are free from pesticides and that scientific evidence indicates that health risks associated with disease-causing micro-organisms are far greater than risks associated with pesticide residues, which are negligible.

BUT are they just defending the interests of their members who I assume are the conventional food producers / biotech companies?

Tissy Fri 06-Dec-02 15:35:09

Whellid, I heard a chap from the Soil Association talking about the campylobacter study on the radio last week. He was fuming because the reports seem to imply that organic chickens are therefore bad for you. He made the point that most organic poultry producers regularly get their birds checked for campylobacter, as they do not use antibiotics. There are several different types of campulobacter, "good", which live in our guts, causing no harm at all, and "bad" which are pathogens. Apparently the study did not differentiate between the types. The SA chap said that it was not surprising that organic chickens have more bacteria, as they are not fed with antibiotics, but that the producers own records show that they are predominantly harmless bugs.

Anyway, as long as the chicken is cooked correctly, it shouldn't matter!

I would doubt anyone who tells me that pesticide residues are negligible, I've seen crops being sprayed by aircraft- huge quantities are dropped. I bet all those food technologists *are* employed by companies producing and selling non-organic food, as you suggest.

Tinker Fri 06-Dec-02 16:38:15

Sulphites, that's what I meant!!!! Thanks Marina

Janeway Fri 06-Dec-02 20:17:47

I worked in a health food shop for a while about 10 yrs ago when organic food was first realy making it's mark. Two old dears pottered up to me all hesitant and one said (as she was prodded by the other) "What is this organic food dear?" They nearly fell over laughing when I explained it was grown just like when they were girls....

Other great food misconceptions of our time include a friend who wouldn't feed her child "veggie things" (read home made rissoles & mixed veg patties) "because of the GMO's", then prompty piled their plates with cheepo sausage roles which included dubious meat products & soya proteins....

Janus Fri 06-Dec-02 20:44:30

I am a big fan of organic too but do know that even organic producers are allowed to use a certain amount of pesticids, I think there are about 5 they are allowed although this doesn't mean that a producer actually does use any.
I was advised that if you only buy a few organic things then the best to buy is those veg that are grown in the ground, eg potatoes, as the soil holds chemicals for years which, therefore, the veg is constantly exposed to.
I do buy organic chickens as what they do to your average battery chicken doesn't bear thinking about.
I did buy organic milk too but my partner swears it tastes different and that he didn't like it and did notice when I tried to sneak it in the house!!, I started buying two different types but that's pretty silly so back to 'normal' milk. Again though, the Times did a report earlier this year on milking cows and it made me feel terrible, the udders are literally just a few inches from the ground. BUT I'm sure they use shock tactics and surely not every dairy cow is like this??
I have heard various doctors hint that the increase in some diseases such as cancer, skin problems, etc, THEY think are due to the increased use of chemicals in food. Who knows really but common sense says that if you're lucky enough to afford organic it must be, generally, better than the chemically raised stuff.
(BTW, my Mum thinks chemicals are 'evil' and even cuts her dishwasher tablets into quarters as she can't bear the thought of a whole tablet! She's just turning to organic food too and says she can really taste the difference in something like an organic chicken and organic eggs.)

bossykate Fri 06-Dec-02 21:06:56

in our house we do organic dairy produce, fruit, veg and meat. i don't do it because of any misapprehension wrt nutritional value or taste - i just figure it's got to be better for the environment. even if organic producers are allowed to use certain pesticides, that's far fewer than with conventional crops. marina makes a good point wrt locally sourced food. if, like me, your main concern is environmental, it doesn't make sense to buy organically grown food that has been air freighted...

not that i am always able to stick to my principles as well as i would like...

SofiaAmes Fri 06-Dec-02 21:55:01

Sorry girls I am too teed off with dh to get into a full blown discussion/explanation about organic food. I'll try to give more info this weekend. However, the quick summary is that there is no scientific evidence that it is better for you and in fact there is some amount of evidence to indicate that it may be worse for you. I avoid it whenever I have the choice.

bossykate Fri 06-Dec-02 22:34:12

sofiaames, that would be interesting, if you can make the time. as i said in my last message, i don't believe organic food is nutritionally better - in the sense that an organic carrot for example will not have any more vitamins than a non-organic carrot. is that what you meant? pesticides wise, intuitively a carrot with fewer pesticides would surely be better than a carrot with more pesticides? aside from the impact to humans from ingestion what about the impact to the soil, water courses etc?

a lot of questions, don't mean to sound combative! on the contrary, would be very interested to read your views if you get a chance.

anais Fri 06-Dec-02 22:39:28

I'm afraid I would take a lot of convincing of that, SofiaAmes.

I try as much as possible to buy organic. All the dairy products we buy are organic (with the exception of yoghurts, simply on the basis that there isn't enough choice). We don't eat any other animal products. Budget dictates that I can't buy as much of my fruit and veg organic as I would like, but we do what we can.

Aside from the animal welfare issues, I have a big proble with the number of chemicals that are put into our food. We have all this stuff forced upon us with (up until very recently) very little choice, or information. It is damaging to the environment, and I believe it is very damaging to our health.

SueW Sat 07-Dec-02 09:34:59

LOL Anais - the only yog I buy is organic! I love the Rachel's dairy stuff but only full fat versions. Don't buy it very often though.

tigermoth Sat 07-Dec-02 09:45:04

sofiaAMes, when time allows, I'd be interested to hear your take on this, too. My parents in law who live in the west country far prefer locally grown over organic, but then it's easy to get every sort of local produce where they live.

Tigger2 Sat 07-Dec-02 12:02:38

Janus, the report was taken from a % of dairy herds, a lot of cows do end up with their *udders* on the ground as the are so highly bred for their milk producing ability and end up losing the firmness, this also happens with age as well and how much the cow is pushed before she calves. A lot of worm control dosing stuffs for sheep have long withdrawals, depending on the strain of worm control the farmer is trying to stop, we have just bought some Seaweed Products to give our cattle, as it helps produce *good* bacteria within the animals gut and immune system, as we have had a really violent strain of pnuemonia in our young calves that has killed off one or two in the process. A lot of *bugs* in animals now are due to the fact that they are kept in sheds, ours are allowed to lie in if it is wet or cold. Our ewes this year have been moved forward in lambing time to nearer th start of April so that they can be lambed outside if possible. Many of the problems in farming nowadays come down to the *welfare* issue of which I am an avid campaigner within our own area. Have started buying my veg at the local market, what a difference!!, the caulis etc are huge!. Also the feeding stuffs we feed to our cattle are all from GM Free Crops.

Lucy123 Sat 07-Dec-02 13:28:53

oh I'd love to buy organic. You can only get it in one supermarket here (Granada, Spain), and then only some fruit/veg in enormous packs. The supermarket in question is the Spanish equivalent of M&S (sort of), so it's also expensive. I need a vegetable patch!

On the milk thing - perhaps the woman had tried organic UHT milk - any UHT milk is disgusting in tea.

Lucy123 Sat 07-Dec-02 13:31:46

Anyway on the organic-food-no-better-for-you argument, the studies usually look at the amount of vitamins in the veg and that is often the same. As most crop chemicals have not been in use for all that long in the scheme of things, their detrimental effects are often unknown. Organic food has been tried and tested for centuries and I'd rather stick with that!

GeorginaA Sat 07-Dec-02 13:34:48

I'm rather broke at the moment so I've had to cut right back on how much organic produce we buy. I just hope it's not too detrimental /

Even before we were low on cash flow, we stopped buying organic milk though. Not really from a taste issue - we get doorstep delivery and the organic milk was going off within a day (not very useful when you need Friday's pints to last through until Monday).

Still buy organic yoghurts for ds though - mainly because the Yeo Valley Children's Yoghurts are really yummy and I know he really enjoys them.

GeorginaA Sat 07-Dec-02 13:35:21

I must remember not to put noses on my smilies - it really messes them up! That grin was supposed to be a :/ !

Alibubbles Sat 07-Dec-02 14:42:02

tigger2, nice to see that you are still around!

Our local farmer lambs twice a year, November and Springtime, what are your thoughts on that?

zebra Mon 09-Dec-02 07:34:42

I'm jumping the gun on SofiaAmes (aren't I horrible...??)

The "scientific evidence" against organic foods I heard is that organic foods *may* have higher levels of nasty bacteria. Or that organic plants are stressed out, don't grow well & produce vitamins. I find these arguments very unconvincing. We probably benefit from exposure to most of these very bacteria. Some are bad, sure, but food-related illness is over-whemingly related to improperly cooked/reheated foods, not what's in the raw food stuff. And plants have evolved to handle some stress, too.

The arguments that organic food has more nutrients/better flavour seems bogus to me. Any difference is likely to be marginal; flavour comes more from variety and size (small veg have more flavour than water-filled big veg).

Against that, pesticides & nitrates & herbicides are extremely harmful the environment; and we don't know what the combined & interactive effects of lots of pesticides in our environment may be -- on us, or on other creatures.

Personally I only buy organic when I feel I can afford it, except for butter, yogurt & meat -- we always buy organic butter, and we eat a lot of butter :-). Because I reckon pesticides (& most chemicals) will concentrate up the food chain, and particularly in fatty animal products.

bells2 Mon 09-Dec-02 10:12:33

I too buy organic but certainly not on the presumption that it is necessarily better for you. My choice is instead based on the fact that it usually tastes better, is better for the environment generally and of course animal welfare is a higher priority for the producers.

Bobbins Mon 09-Dec-02 11:28:05

I don't think I'll be buying organic black grapes ta very much. I'm not too keen on black widow spiders. Be careful out there.

aloha Mon 09-Dec-02 12:04:00

They key 'proof' that pesticides on veg don't harm humans is there is overwhelming evidence that the more fruit and veg you eat, the less likely you are to get cancer - any kind of cancer. If pesticides caused cancer (& fruit and veg are the main carriers of pesticide residues) it should logically be the other way round. Therefore pesticide residues are not a cause of cancer, Because organic fruit and veg is so much more expensive, it is likely that households only buying organic will have less of it that they would of regular fruit and veg, and so damage their health. Having said that, I have just started an organic box scheme, but that's partly because I want to eat more locally grown food, and to have a variety to encourage us to eat more and different fruits and veg. They also supply a yummy organic loaf and rachel's milk for ds. I'm certainly not fanatical about it. I buy regular stuff too. I choose free range chicken and eggs whenever possible as I worry more about barbaric farming methods than organic farming. At our local farmer's market I buy from a farmer who sounds like Tigger2 - freerange animals with a good diet and good welfare standards, but just not an organic certificate.

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