For me, trying to eat organic food has been a necessity.  Because of an autoimmune disease I had a kidney transplant.  Because of my kidney transplant I take immune suppressant drugs.  Because of immune suppressant drugs I can get sick very easily and take a long time to heal. I’m now more sensitive to chemicals in my food and, for me, there is a huge difference between factory farmed food and small farmed organic food. The main difference between organic food and conventional food is the use pesticides, herbicides and antibiotics in conventional food production.

I aspire to eat organic food as much as possible but it’s not always easy.  If you want to make the switch to organic food, it might seem overwhelming. Organic food is more expensive and in some places almost impossible to find. I found it easier to proceed in stages. For starters, go ahead and buy from the list of the “Clean Fifteen.” These fruits and vegetables have little pesticide contamination and there is plenty to choose from.

Try to buy organic on the list of the “Dirty Dozen.” These are fruits and vegetables most likely to be contaminated with pesticide and herbicide residue.  You can find less expensive organic fruits and vegetables if you buy in season and don’t shy away from frozen.  Frozen food is flash frozen and sometimes I think it’s fresher than the vegetables sitting in their bins for who knows how long. Frozen organic food is available all year long and considerably more economical.

Ways You Can Start Eating Organic Food 

There are other ways to purchase organic food, such as various delivery services. I haven’t tried any of these services but this would be a wonderful idea if you didn’t live near a grocer that had organic offerings.

In the growing season you might be fortunate enough to live near a farmer’s market.  The farmer’s market in my town is a social event. Everyone goes. If you don’t have one nearby, it might be fun to find the nearest market and make a day of it. There is so much gorgeous produce and you can get to know the farmers who actually grow your food. Many farmers’ markets are also beginning to sell organic meat.

As for meat, I started with chicken.  Organic chicken is plentiful and easy to find making it less cost prohibitive. For other types of organic meat I look for sales and will buy frozen.

It takes surprisingly little space to grow some of your own favorite fruits or vegetables.  Even if you only have a balcony you can grow juicy homegrown tomatoes, peppers, and lettuce in containers.  Strawberries come up every year and will spread, giving you a continually larger yield. Blueberries grow on a beautiful shrub that can also be grown in containers.

How to Find a Farmer

I’ve started buying free range meat directly from the farmer. Getting my food from the actual farm of origin is a totally new experience. This year I am joining a CSA, which stands for Community Supported Agriculture. I am really excited because, not only will I be getting weekly deliveries of organic produce, but I’ll also be supporting the small group of organic farmers who are making a difference in food safety and sustainable farming practices. It’s not just about the food we eat but also the contaminated residue that finds its way into the soil and water.

Happy Chickens lay delicious eggs at Avrom Farm, WI

There is a lot of debate as to whether organic food is nutritiously superior to industrial farmed meat, eggs, dairy products, and vegetables.  It’s true that eating an apple, any apple, even Snow White’s apple, is a healthier than eating a bag of orange-dyed cheese puffs. But for me that’s not the point. The point is factory farming; spraying produce with pesticides, raising animals in inhumane conditions and pumping them with antibiotics.

Factory farmed meat, because the animals are in such cramped confines, are administered antibiotics to stop the spread of disease, and as early as the 1940’s it was discovered that regular antibiotic consumption makes animals grow larger and faster. In the industrial farming community this profit-boosting strategy is a competitive necessity.  I get it, more meat, bigger meat, and cheaper meat.

What about all those antibiotics? The consumer ends up consuming them. As you’ve probably heard, an over abundance of antibiotics can lead to a host of problems like disease resistant viruses and gut health issues which I won’t get into on this post.

And then there is the arsenic. That’s right, as in poison. Back in the ‘40’s, again, producers began putting arsenic in chicken feed to treat communal disease and promote growth. It seems we’re stuck in a 1940’s business model of producing more meat, bigger meat, and cheaper meat.  As you can imagine, eating arsenic tainted chicken isn’t good for public health.

Vegetable crops are sprayed with pesticides.  I know that industrial farms need to be free of weeds and crop eating pests, but why isn’t a priority for the R&D of chemical manufacturers to find a way to make the pesticides less toxic. There’s more money spend on advertising to convince us that pesticide contamination is safe than actually finding something that is safe.

What happens to all the arsenic, antibiotics, toxic pesticides and herbicides?  They leach their way into the soil, and our water.  I don’t want to be an alarmist, but this is alarming. I’m ready for the quality of the food I eat and feed my family to come before quantity.  I’m ready for the food I eat to have a positive impact on my health and the health of the planet.