If you have 2 bananas, and they are identical in size and shape with one costing 20p and one costing 30p which one do you choose? The cheapest? How many people would change their mind if the most expensive one was organic – probably not very many of us I suspect – but should we? Is organic produce worth the extra cost?
The sad reality of everything you see in the supermarket today is that it is produced more for how it looks on the shelf than how it tastes in your mouth. Consumers, in general, have a preconception of what a product should look like and therefore want things to be a certain size, a certain shape and a certain colour. Even with famine in the world produce is regularly disregarded as being good enough to make the supermarket shelves because it’s too small, the wrong shape or the wrong colour.
Crops are continually being cross-bred and genetically modified to bring an end product that lasts longer and looks better on our supermarket shelves. Sadly the nutrient values of produce and livestock are being disregarded. A US study found that the overall nutrition of GM food and cross-breeding is that an apple purchased today contains half the vitamins and goodness of just 15-20 years ago! The list of foods went on, and in almost every single case vitamin levels in fruit and veg were significantly decreased.
The biggest head screw for choosing organic food is to accept that the way the food looks is not important. Obviously you don’t want to pick something that is bruised or going mouldy, but don’t deviate away from going organic because the sweet potatoes are darker skinned, or a much darker orange. If you grow your own veg or fruit (I urge you to do this, even if its just tomatoes or strawberries during the summer) you will realise that it looks a lot more like the organic veg you buy in the supermarket than the non-organic equivalents, yet tastes amazing.
A lot of people think they know what organic means, but when asked can’t really provide a definitive answer – so lets cover that off. The word "organic" refers to the way farmers grow and process agricultural products, such as fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy products and meat.
Organic farming does away with modern conventional measures for weed and pest controls such as pesticides, herbicides, chemical fertilisers, GH (growth hormone) being injected into animals to make them grow bigger, and antibiotics (even when animals aren’t sick) added to the feed of animals to prevent disease and illness. I actually find it very ironic that “natural” competitors and athletes are consuming meat that has been pumped full of substances deemed illegal for human consumption and by most sporting bodies! Cattle are a prime example of this, with trenbelone (perhaps the strongest steroid of all) and growth hormone regularly administered to increase feed efficiency and to grow more meat (more meat = more profit for the farmer).
Instead of the above conventional measures organic farming looks towards organic measures such as natural fertilisers (manure, compost etc), crop rotation, hand weeding, mulch, the purposeful addition of beneficial insects or birds to eat pests and stop disease that may ruin crops (the same train of thought for getting a cat to catch a mouse), balanced diets for animals and access to their natural feed or organic feed (such as cows being fed grass instead of grain), clean animal housing to prevent disease.
Its easy to bring organic food into your diet, without having to ask your bank manager for a loan – its just a case of assessing how much you want to invest into buying organic produce. Personally I can’t afford to purchase free range, organic and grass fed everything and you probably wont be able to either – it’s just not feasible for the majority of us – especially those interested in increasing lean mass or strength where a surplus of calories is often required. I therefore pick and choose what organic food I do buy, and this is probably the best option for the majority of you too. I’ve provided some details below to try and spark your imagination on how you can cheaply add in a bit of organic produce to your diet and eliminate some of the chemicals you may be inadvertently consuming.
Organic Milk - it is only a few pence more than regular milk. My recommendation is to go for organic semi-skimmed milk as opposed to full skimmed milk as the full skimmed milk has some of the goodies (such as vitamins) that make milk worth drinking removed. Most supermarkets stock their own branded organic milk, and if they don’t they usually stock a branded organic milk product. Its interesting to note how much shorter the use by dates on organic milk is in comparison to non organic milk –which makes you wonder just what gets added to normal milk to make it last those extra few days?!
Organic Oats – You’ll probably have to pay about 50p extra for a box of these, but for something that is almost guaranteed to be a staple in the diet of any bodybuilder, athlete or fitness fanatic, and often consumed in vast quantities, going organic here is a good option.
Vegetables – Organic veg is actually decently priced with the only negative being that you get less product or a smaller product for your money. However, how many people can honestly claim not to waste some of the veg they buy because they simply don’t need the world’s biggest bag of carrots or a mutant sized cauliflower? Carrot’s are a prime example – a big bag costs about £1, but half of these go soft and mouldy before we can ever consume them all in my household. We have opted to buy organic carrots which cost the same amount, but for a smaller bag, and although we get less we waste none.
Organic Yoghurt – Like milk, opting for organic yoghurt won’t hit you in the pocket as the price difference is almost negligible. Most leading brand natural yoghurts are now organic anyway, with Yeo Valley and Rachel’s providing a range of flavours and tub sizes to choose from.