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Why is organic food so expensive?

Posted by on Sep 24, 2012 in Autumn, Recipes, Snacking | 11 Comments

Organic Week is a weeklong celebration of all things organic in Canada. So I thought I’d take the opportunity to talk about organic food. And for those of you who like recipes, keep reading for a delicious beet dip recipe.

There’s been an organic food hate-on lately (after a weak study from Stanford was released). When I think of the debate between organic vs. conventional farming, I can’t help but think of the scene in the movie Baby Mama, where Amy Poehler tells Tina Fey’s character that, “organic food is for rich people who hate themselves.”

So, allow me to tackle some frequently asked questions about organic food.

Is organic produce worth the price?

It sure can feel like a sticker shock when you reach the checkout with your teeny tiny organic apples and you realize that you’re paying more than you would if you were buying conventional. And so, many people wonder whether it’s worth it to spend the money on organic food.

After all, conventional produce can appear to be a little prettier – definitely bigger, plumper and more uniform. And more variety. But chemicals and genetic modification likely made them look that goooood. Smoke and mirrors, baby!

And while conventional produce is less expensive at the checkout, it can often be more expensive down the road. It’s like, pay me now or pay me later – in terms of the health of the soil and the long-term effects of pesticides and genetic modification on our health.

For starters, organic produce employs more traditional farming methods that help to support the soil. In the case of large-scale conventional farming, the soil is often depleted of nutrients (due to the lack of crop rotation and constant tilling) and needs to be heavily fertilized. These crops become weakened as a result of the poor soil quality; they simply don’t have the nutrients that they need and can’t fight off pests. And so, in addition to the necessity for fertilizer, the crops are sprayed with nasty-ass pesticides. It’s a vicious circle. To sum it up: conventional farming has 99 problems, but a pest ain’t one.

Simply put, organic food is harder to produce than conventional. And the demand is higher than the supply.

What are the benefits of organic produce?

Organic farming methods don’t produce these same problems. Here’s what you get when you buy organic:

  • No chemical pesticides – most of the “pesticides” used are made from organic materials, not chemicals.
  • No conventional fertilizers – this crap is gross, and doesn’t even fertilize the soil properly.
  • No genetically modified organisms (GMO) – if you want to know what this nastiness is, read tomorrow’s post!
  • Healthier soil – by rotating crops, using cover crops and composting, the soil remains fertile. The valuable underground workers (microorganisms such as worms, bacteria and fungi) get nourished by the soil and can do their jobs too!
  • You probably won’t have to use a filter when you’re instagramming a photo of your beautiful homemade salad with organic ingredients – the colours are THAT bright (#nofilter). You may have a few wormholes in your kale, but personally, I think it looks more badass.
  • TASTE! Organic produce tastes better. If you’re not convinced, take a bite of a conventional apple and then try an organic apple. (The organic apple should taste cleaner.)
  • And if you’re buying prepared organic foods, such as cookies, canned foods or sauces, you won’t have to worry about most nasty-ass additives (such as high fructose corn syrup, to name just one).

So while it remains to be seen whether organic produce contains more nutrients, we can be sure that it contains less pesticides and pesticide residues. And we can be extra sure that said fruit or vegetable is not genetically modified. So be sure to check back this week for more reasons to go organic.

Here’s a recipe for a colourful #nofilter dip. It’s simple and delicious. You can use any colour of beets for your visual excitement. If you noticed the photo at the beginning of this post, yes, it’s organic beet dip made with golden beets. I once made this dip when I had a few friends over for dinner. I turned my back to chop some veggies, and the next thing I knew, it was gone! They still ask me to make it for them. Anyhoo, here’s the recipe.

Roasted Beet Dip
Print

Ingredients
  1. 2 medium sized organic beets
  2. 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
  3. 2 garlic cloves
  4. ½ lemon, juiced
  5. 2 tbsp fresh basil leaves, OR 1 tsp fresh rosemary, chopped (optional)
  6. salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Chop beets into large chunks and roast in the oven with 1 tbsp olive oil and a sprinkling of salt and pepper. When they’re soft, blitz them in a blender or food processor with remaining olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, basil, salt and pepper until smooth. Adjust seasoning, and serve with a gluten-free flatbread and raw veggies.
Notes
  1. healthydelicious.ca
Healthy Delicious Toronto Nutrition http://healthydelicious.ca/v2/

11 Comments

  1. julia christine stephen
    September 24, 2012

    Reblogged this on Crafting Glass and commented:
    Thought this is great…new job is keeping me running, new post tonight :)

    Reply
  2. melody quinlan
    September 24, 2012

    I just cooked up some golden beets this morning. Looks like I will be having some beet dip this evening. Thanks for the inspiration!

    Reply
  3. Katie
    September 25, 2012

    “To sum it up: conventional farming has 99 problems, but a pest ain’t one.” This pretty much sums up why I love thee so dearly. Who else quotes the Z whilst discussing organics. No one, no one, no onnnnnnne…

    I’m totally doing the apple test at lunch tomorrow. Great post, Sarj!

    Reply
    • Healthy Delicious
      September 25, 2012

      Thanks love! {I wish I could insert another clever Jay-Z quote here.} Let me know how the apple test goes, and see you soon plskthxbai.

      Reply
  4. LuAnn
    September 25, 2012

    Great post and that beet dip looks yummy! :)

    Reply
  5. aprilkerley
    September 25, 2012

    Some good thoughts. I enjoyed reading. Look forward to trying the beet dip. :)

    Reply
  6. twistnpout
    September 25, 2012

    good post. I have a real issue with this “organic” craze. for one, I hate that it is more expensive – I honestly find a bit of pretentiousness in it. less chemicals, hormones, pesticides….. should mean the food costs less to produce. Also, in my area i have not noticed the “non organic” foods to look any better (plumper, prettier…) than the organic food. I also think that food should just be safe and healthy. PERIOD. I wish we could do away with all this and our government would issue some kind of law that stipulates all food must be healthy.
    Well, I wont continue on my rant, but I enjoyed your post. still not entirely convinced though.
    I am still stuck with the definition of organic to mean any carbon based matter – so the way the word is being used today to describe food seems a little silly to me.

    Reply
  7. twistnpout
    September 27, 2012

    Gee, I was laying in bed last night and thought about this comment I left. I guess it came off as a little rude. really what I was trying to say was; I have a great admiration for people who can grow their own food – I can’t keep a fake cactus alive – and I think good healthy, chemical free food is absolutely important. i just don’t like how the word is being thrown around so freely. it would be nice if we could just buy food and KNOW it is healthy.

    cheers-

    Reply

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