Organic vegetables are the staple of an organic diet. Today's commercial produce contains an abundance of chemical pesticides, many of which are toxic and/or known carcinogens. The goal of organic farmers is to provide the American consumer with food that is safe and packed with flavor while utilizing farming methods that are not harmful to the environment.
Where to Buy Organic Vegetables
Only a few decades ago it was difficult to find organic vegetables in local grocery stores. If you didn't live near a retailer, know of a farm stand that sold organically grown produce, or grow them yourself, you just didn't eat them. As organics have become more popular they have also become more readily available, not only in natural food stores like WholeFoods but also at many conventional grocers.
Conventional Grocery Stores
While you probably aren't going to find a huge selection of organic foods at your local grocery store, you will probably be able to find many of the more popular items like apples, oranges, broccoli, and salad mixes. Since the larger retailers have the ability to buy produce in large amounts, the cost of a pound of organic apples may not be that much different than a pound of conventionally grown apples.
Some national food chains that do carry organic produce are:
- Safeway/Tom Thumb
Natural Foods Stores
Of course, many specialty stores carry organic products. Although you may not have a national chain of natural food stores in your area, there may be a few independently owned stores within driving distance.
National specialty foods stores that carry organic vegetables are:
- Whole Foods
- Trader Joes
- Wild Oats
Farmers Markets, CSAs, and Produce Stands
Depending on where you live there may be organic produce available straight from the growers themselves. This is often considered the best way to buy produce since you get to know the farmer, the food does not have to be shipped long distances and you are supporting your local economy.
Small farmers are not required to be certified to claim that their foods are organically grown, so be sure to ask questions about how the vegetables were grown and the fertilizers used.
What Does "Organic" Mean?
Organic vegetables and any supermarket item that is labeled "organic" imply that the products have been produced under organic standards. These standards must be met in order for the manufacturer to be certifiably organic.
What do these standards entail? Organic products are grown on organic farms that implement farming methods that are both considerate of the soil and the environment. These farming principles also work to lessen any chance of product contamination while maintaining a high quality of food.
Any organic agriculture is farmed with a holistic picture of the environment. Organic farming takes into account the well-being of the ecosystem as well as the soil's biological activity. Organic vegetables are farmed without the use of chemical pesticides and artificial ingredients that are detrimental to the soil and farm ecology.
Any type of organic produce must be farmed and sold without:
- Synthetic fertilizers
- Genetic engineering
Benefits of Organics
Organic fruits and vegetables are generally more gentle on the environment than conventionally produced produce. According to IFOAM, organic farming benefits the earth in the following ways:
- Enhances soil structures
- Conserves water
- Chemical pollutants are not released into the water, air and soil
- Ensures that a variety of plants and animals are able to continue to co-exist in a natural way
Non-organic foods can carry chemical residues from fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides. These substances have been linked to cancer, birth defects, and other problems in humans as well as health problems with the local wildlife. The Organic Consumers Association reports these problems in detail.
Choosing organic produce is a good choice for your health, your family's health and the health of the environment. As more organic produce is produced in response to higher consumer demand, the difference in the cost between the conventionally grown and the organic should continue to decrease.