Why we buy organic

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Why we buy organic? – and how you can too without breaking the bank.

The answer to the question “Why we buy organic? has evolved over the past few decades and I probably have to go way back in my life to illustrate why it is one of the most important factors in the way we (our family) “consume”.

I grew up in a household of an average German family typical for that time and area, mother, father, three children, my dad a teacher and my mum a stay-at-home housewife. Even though we never wanted for anything, financially we certainly weren’t “well off”, there were no foreign holidays, expensive cars, restaurant dinners or other “fancy stuff”. 

When it came to the food we ate though, there were no compromises made in relation to its quality and origin. I am talking 40+ years ago and even though the “organic” term was probably still in its infancy. Our food was either grown in our garden, bought from local food producers, or foraged in the nearby woods but of course also supplemented by “regular” shopping when necessary, organic wherever possible. Even though our financial means were restricted, my parents always made sure that a healthy diet was a priority, it was a conscious choice for which other sacrifices had to be made.

This firm belief in the importance of “good food” on more than one level has stayed with me ever since.

My reasons for buying organic slightly changed throughout the years. Originally it was all about physical health and not wanting to feed my family food which was contaminated with chemicals and had little nutritional value. The more I became aware of the interrelatedness of everything though, the reasons why we buy organic became part of the bigger picture. 

We want to be part of a system that supports physical health but also social justice, animal welfare, local food producers, ethical production, sustainability, biodiversity and a general care for our Earth. With our choice as consumers, we have a voice: This is how we want to live on our planet and we do not support the unfair, unsustainable and damaging capitalist society we still live in.

Strangely, for someone like me, who always thought I was apolitical, it has become exactly that, political action to affect positive change!

grow your own | Roots and Wings | Alex Koster

When people use the argument that “organic” is expensive and only for the wealthy I get a bit frustrated. Is organic produce more expensive than mass-produced food? Of course it is, it is much more cost and labour extensive but this argument still doesn’t stack up for me as it is all about our priorities and the choices we make. 

There are so many ways in which a healthy diet, and yes, an organic diet, is possible for everyone. We don’t have to go for the expensive cuts of meat, the organic “Pinot Grigio”, or the fancy organic antipasti because let’s face it, “organic” has also become a “trend” with many brands “greenwashing” their product lines. Don’t get me wrong, that’s definitely a change in the right direction but I am unsure about the genuine intention rather than just a marketing strategy in many cases.

So after giving you my personal reasons for why we buy organic here are some tips to help you transition to an organic diet without breaking the bank. All we need to do is use our heads and become a little bit more thrifty, a skill many of us have lost in these past years of decadence (for many, not all).

Here are some ideas that make changing to an organic diet an easy and affordable process, simply ask yourself these questions:
  • What’s on special offer this week? Can I buy in bulk and freeze/preserve/store?
  • What do I still have at home that needs to be used? 
  • Can I buy at a market where I can control portions better and just buy what I need?
  • Can I grow some veg at home?
  • Can I substitute with foraged foods right at my doorstep (or somewhere accessible nearby)
  • Is there a swap market?
  • Could we come up with new ideas such as a dinner club, ie 5 people share the weekly cooking, each person cooks a meal for 5 on a particular day and distributes it, great for students!
  • Can I swap expensive meal choices with cheaper, yet delicious and nutritious options? (Spaghetti with a vegetable Bolognese or a Chickpea Curry to feed the masses ;-) are just a couple of suggestions.)

There are literally no excuses for not going organic if financial reasons were the biggest obstacle. 

You might also be interested in: Nature Connection Through the Food we eat.

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