In my last post, I announced that Connecting City to Farm is applying for non-profit status. Our mission: Promoting healthy food choices for all budgets by highlighting the nutritional value and sustainability of non-organic agriculture. The next few posts will develop our three main areas of focus.
"Promoting healthy food choices for all budgets" means we want to bring consumers to a place of confident understanding as we highlight reasonable food choices. The ‘super brand’ of organic is out of reach for many Americans, and processed food can bring significant long term health risks. The result is an increasing financial burden to households.
Should I Start Buying Organic?
I’ve told my kids for years to "eat real food," and I have always tried to fill our kitchen with healthy non-organic options. However, over the last several years, I honestly began to question my decision. Should I cut other things in our family budget in order to buy organic foods that “they” say are better for my family?
It’s Good but it's Not Better
Then I began to do some research and discovered that Certified Organic is a label given to foods that have been grown by famers who follow rules that were established over 30 years ago. These regulations were decided upon before many scientific findings were made that have now brought about better practices in conventional (non-organic) agriculture. Also, marketers have promoted the idea that organic foods are healthier for us. However, the National Organic Progam's page on the USDA’s website specifically states, “Our regulations do not address food safety or nutrition.” The National Organic Program oversees the products that receive the “Certified Organic” seal. Bottom line, it's perfectly fine to eat organic foods if you want to support organic farmers, but it’s just not necessary for improved personal health or even a better environment.
The Other Extreme
Stressful lifestyles and a lack of clear understanding about healthy foods has led many consumers to fall prey to the advertising message that convenient is better. We live in a society where food is available around almost every corner, even if it’s the gas station at the street corner. In today's America ,we don’t have to grow or harvest or kneed or mix or chop or even cook to eat. This life of ease and abundance has made the habitual act of grabbing bags and packages very attractive.
Consumers need to hear the message that by picking up an apple, even a non-organic one, instead of a candy bar or bag of chips, they are making a significant investment in their health and their family’s health. Children need to see adults eating real food so that they will learn to expect it in their own diets. Did you know that many of the healthy choices served in public schools, such as oranges and apples, are thrown in the trash by kids because they won’t eat them? Middle schoolers refuse to eat oranges because they are unfamiliar and foreign to them.
Long Term Benefits
We want consumers to confidently choose to put real food in their shopping carts, whether it’s organic or non-organic. What an excellent choice for their bodies and their budgets!