being a mom

I Don’t Buy Organic Food For My Kids, And I Don’t Feel Guilty

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organic-produce-in-a-basketOnce upon a time people believed you were doing alright if you got your kids to eat a vegetable with dinner every night. Now, there are all sorts of qualifications that vegetables and everything else on the plate must meet before people will deem it — and you — good enough. Chief among these qualifications is whether or not your food is organic.

The Organic Trade Association recorded $35.1 billion in sales of organic products in 2013, up 11.5% from the previous year, and that number continues to grow. These days you can find organic everything at the grocery store, from produce to cheese puffs to fruit snacks, and it doesn’t really matter what it is; if it’s organic, people say it’s better. Well, I disagree. I do all of the meal planning, shopping, and cooking for my family and, for the most part, I don’t go out of my way to purchase organic food. More importantly, though, I don’t feel particularly guilty about it.

The organic craze, to me, seems like a lot of hype. People proudly point to their organic boxed macaroni and cheese or their organic chocolate sandwich cookies, as though the word ‘organic’ negates the nutritional reality of what they’re about to eat. I like cookies as much as the next mom hiding in the pantry during nap time, but I’m not fooling myself with buzzwords: cookies are cookies.

(Related: Science Mom – No, You Can’t Buy Your Way To Healthy With Organic Food)

Organic produce is a different animal in some ways, but I still don’t bend over backwards trying to find organic bananas when I trust that conventionally grown ones are perfectly nutritious and safe. I’m too busy trying to make sure I have enough healthy food to get my kids through the week without blowing my grocery budget.

That’s the reality of the situation: I just want nutritious food that I can afford. I don’t buy organic fruit snacks because I don’t buy fruit snacks, period. I give my kid an apple. Perhaps an organic apple would be better for the environment, but I can’t afford to buy all of our produce and meats organic. And really, isn’t it just important that they’re eating a piece of fruit?

There are people starving in the world and right here our own soil, but still you’ll meet parents who refer to a non-organic orange as ‘poisonous garbage,’ as though eating a regular orange is criminal and I might as well just hand my kid a Snickers bar. To me, that’s absurd.

Studies have shown organic food is not more nutritious than conventionally grown food, and the most pressing concern people seem to have — pesticide use — has been addressed time and time again. Mayo Clinic reports conventionally grown food does not carry dangerous levels of pesticide residue and while organic food generally carries less pesticide residue, both are well below acceptable levels and neither has been proven safer for consumption.

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