I hate having to make decisions about organic or affordable, and this is often the case when buying products for my family. When it comes to produce and other food products, I feel fortunate that my family is able to afford choosing organic. Now I must admit, I don’t buy EVERY food item organic, nor do I think it is always necessary; however when given a choice of organic versus not, I tend to buy the organic option. Especially when it comes to certain produce and dairy products. I once remember reading an article about the importance of considering organic for products besides produce, because of the second level dose of pesticides that might be contained in the food. For example, when purchasing milk you are deciding to drink the milk from the cow as well as any byproducts that are in the food the cow was consuming. Food for thought. Avoiding chemicals is not my only concern when I choose organic, but I also care about the impact on the environment. Traditional farming methods are causing many ecological and environmental problems, and I feel better if I can help to avoid this. 100 years ago consumers didn’t have to think about buying organic, because it was the NORM, it was how small farms worked. The industrial-sized farms of today have changed this.
I am vegetarian, so there is much more that could be said about animal farms, but I won’t go there; although my husband does eat meat, and when we purchase meat for him to prepare, we try to get locally raised, grass fed beef or free range chicken—like the kind that is available at our farmers market. This brings me to another point—organic versus local, and I always have a hard time here. I appreciate the limited fossil fuel that goes into buying local, but still appreciate the pesticide free component of organic products, so it really depends on the item itself (like if it is one of the “dirty dozen” — see the EWG article here) or often the cost difference. Also, if you ever have the chance, watch the movie Food, Inc. Very informative.
Where it gets harder to keep living organically and free of chemicals, is when it comes to textiles, toys, and home goods. When possible I try to choose toys that are wooden, and free of other toxic finishes, but in reality, there are limits to doing so. First off, I don’t purchase most of my girls’ toys, they are gifts or hand-me-downs, and we appreciate that! Reuse being an important tenant of environmental stewardship. Second, wooden/green toys often cost more, and sometimes you have to consider how much you want to spend. In addition, as toddlers grow and have more opinions and preferences, it is often hard to find their favorite characters made out of wood instead of plastic! As I was telling a friend today, you do what you can; you can’t avoid everything, and my philosophy is to choose to buy natural materials for the items that will be important for my family (like mattresses, food-ware and personal care products), and then make informed decisions about the rest. You do your best, but sadly, living organically and economically doesn’t always go hand in hand.