I wish I had an organic market in walking distance well as least 2-3 miles down the road. I would love to have fruit and vegetables deliver to me every other day or maybe 2x a week. It is very tough to find good places and find places that provide nutritional foods.
I recently came across an article written by Joanne Camas, contributing editor for Epicurious.com and she too struggle to feed her family with organic food. She has four sons, so I admit she does have it a little tougher than I, since I only have two children, boy and girl (now my girl is adult) and has no trouble eating the good stuff.
Article by Joanne Camas Contributing Editor of Epicurious
Feeding My Family Organic
I struggle into the house with bulging bags of groceries. My four sons immediately surround me. "Mom, did you get any good food?"
"Good food." A loaded term indeed. I believe good food is tasty and, well, good for you. My boys prefer the more colorful TV version: Vivid cereals, happy rabbits selling neon shades of yogurt, bland bread that disappears as it hits your mouth.
They equate "organic" with "food that doesn't taste so good," as my 12-year-old is quick to tell me. I blame the media and the constant assault of "fun, exciting food." We've certainly always been pro-organic parents, so the reverse bias must have come from elsewhere.
Not only do I have to try to sneak organic food past my suspicious children (I've even mashed organic beans into peanut butter for sandwiches... shhh, don't tell them!), I--and, no doubt, many parents--have to take price into account. While organic has become less expensive, it often costs more and can tax a family budget.
So how do you figure out the importance of organic to your family and how to strike a practical balance?
"Overall there is growing evidence that foods grown organically in healthy soil contain higher nutritional value than those grown conventionally," reports Kate O'Keefe, RN, CFNP, HHP, a family nurse practitioner with a holistic health practice in Cold Spring, New York. She cites a study by researchers at the University of California at Davis published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry online in January 2003 that points to higher levels of antioxidants in organic compared to conventionally grown corn and berries. "They also taste better!"
O'Keefe is especially concerned about the impact chemicals on conventional produce can have on developing children. "Organic foods do not contain pesticides, herbicides, or other chemicals to enhance the growth and production of crops. There is growing concern about the cumulative effect of even small amounts of pesticides and herbicides on fetal development and growing children." However, switching children from a conventional diet to an organic diet, "provides a dramatic and immediate protective effect against exposures to organophosphorus pesticides that are commonly used in agricultural production" according to a study published in the February 2006 Environmental Health Perspectives.
While this may be the ideal scenario, O'Keefe admits that steering youngsters toward organic food can be difficult. "As children go through the developmental stages, their eating habits can vary from being picky or addicted to junk/fast food. Incorporating nutritionally dense organic foods can only benefit their health."
Tanya Steel, editor-in-chief of Epicurious.com and the mother of twin eight-year-old boys, wholeheartedly agrees with the benefits of organic food, but acknowledges the financial aspect too.
"I do buy organic when I can for several reasons: It's generally healthier for my family, I like to support organic businesses, and I want to encourage traditional business to become organic. However I don't buy everything organic, as price is a factor.
"I buy organic milk, eggs, meat and chicken, and porous produce like berries, as they tend to absorb more pesticide. "
She recommends shopping at local farmer's markets for low-cost organic produce.
O'Keefe is quick to agree. "Absolutely! Patronizing local farmer's markets and CSA groups is a great way to eat healthy foods. Many, but not all, local farmers use organic growing methods, so always ask. If they don't, make sure to wash the produce and thoroughly rinse.
"All organic produce is not the same, either. Foods obtained from an organic farm down the road that was picked within a day or two is even better than organic food grown in California and shipped across the country."
Whatever you do, says O'Keefe, don't drive yourself crazy. "I have seen many people become obsessed with 'only buying organic' and creating more stress in their already stressful lives. It is more beneficial to create a balanced life that includes healthy food choices--organic if possible, and if it's not possible, wash all produce carefully. Eating more fruits and vegetables is a better choice than the standard American diet of processed foods, sugar-laden foods, and fast foods."
So how do I incorporate more organic food into my children's diet? I buy organic bananas, as we eat a lot of them. That was an easy switch. Organic apples are also affordable and tasty. I've bought organic chicken nuggets and they've passed the taste test, albeit with ketchup.
Sadly organic waffles didn't fly, and I'm still working on introducing them to organic cereal--sneaking it into regular cereal hasn't been a huge success.
I find organic milk too expensive, so I buy hormone-free but conventional brands as a compromise.
I'll keep chipping away, however, and try to redefine definitions of "good food." Hey, I'm being devious for a good cause.