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To Eat or Not To Eat Organically/Locally

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  • To Eat or Not To Eat Organically/Locally

    I'm doing quite well in avoiding processed foods (such as Ramen, snacks at convenience stores, and lunchable-like meals in college) and following Mark's primal pyramid, but am also striving to take the Primal lifestyle to the next level by not only preparing meals myself (by creating time through efficient time management), but also attempting to eat slightly more locally and organically as time progresses (transitioning just how I have with my eating habits). However, I am still yet to familiarize myself the surrounding area of my university (I am only familiar with a Trader Joe's close by at the moment, for any comments), find consistent time to shop/prepare organically and locally, and cope with slightly higher prices and lesser accessibility. In considering my priorities, this ultimately leads me to a question:

    Would you consider eating non-organically/non-locally a definite cost to health or simply an opportunity cost in improving one's health? If so, to what degrees in magnitude are these costs?

    From a busy freshman university student, thanks for reading and potential comments!
    Male|18|5'8|155-160 lbs|University of Florida

  • #2
    I made a decision after much mulling that the few things on which I won't compromise are grass fed beef and butter, and wild salmon.

    As far as local, while it is possible to find grass fed beef because we have a Whole Foods, things like farm eggs, chicken, pork, etc., can be tough to find. So I do my best. Speaking to the local aspect, if I can't find something like for e.g., grass fed lamb, and I order it online from some company 1500 miles away, I feel like I'm helping my health, not harming it. If the local economy wants my money, it needs to provide the product.

    For veggies and other produce, I've been trying hard to stay local. At the grocery store, I pick the top 12-15 in this list: Full List | EWG's 2013 Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce™ to make sure I buy organic. But I'm lax about produce in general because how I eat is so animal centric with just a bit of plant. IOW, I spend my money on what I eat the most, and if I occasionally eat a non-organic potato, I peel it and I don't worry about it.

    Because of these pics, I always buy organic strawberries, but that's an emotional response, not necessarily a logical one.

    Do the best you can. For some, it's a radical change, for others it's a process. If you start at all processed foods, and in five years, you're eating all local, organic, grass-fed, and wild, you get healthier every year.
    "Right is right, even if no one is doing it; wrong is wrong, even if everyone is doing it." - St. Augustine


    Who says back fat is a bad thing? Maybe on a hairy guy at the beach, but not on a crab.


    • #3
      From what I recall of my few years living in Florida it was barren of quality local produce. Unless you are talking about grapefruits/oranges which were in my backyard but not always in the markets. TJ's and Whole Foods might be your best choices, although much of TJ's produce seems to come from Mexico. I do buy local and organic as much as possible, if an Organic potato looks old I just skip it and don't buy conventional.


      • #4
        Originally posted by Primaholic View Post
        Would you consider eating non-organically/non-locally a definite cost to health or simply an opportunity cost in improving one's health? If so, to what degrees in magnitude are these costs?
        It's a great question but very hard to generalize because each plant and animal in the food system has its own story. We would need to research and judge individually. It should be fun and not stressful! Maybe try one new thing per week.

        Generally I'm okay with conventional plants. Even organic produce has pesticides that should be rinsed, though I'm not sure pesticide impacts us much anyway. Transportation is a tiny fraction of the overall production cost so it's better to let plants grow where they grow efficiently. Weekly sales are often a decent proxy for seasonality.

        With animals I'm more picky. The color and flavor of eggs, organs, and dairy is quite different between legit local farms and whatever gets sold at gas stations. For meat and fish I try to learn the names of individual providers--it might take a little digging to find one that's affordable and consistent but I only need one. To compensate I'm not eating tender grilled steak and wild salmon every day but the less popular cuts can be just as satisfying with proper planning. In fact, sometimes the top quality shanks/tails/necks/wings are a steal--the rich folks don't want them and the CAFO equivalent isn't even displayed.

        My peculiar nutrition glossary and shopping list


        • #5
          Eating organic/non gmo is probably the single best thing you can do for your health. In a few years time, there will be a mountain of evidence on how bad gmo and pesticides are for our health.


          • #6
            I see a gradual transition as fine.

            Stay away from the grains and processed junk. Get used to that. As you go, take whatever opportunities you find to improve the sources of your food. CAFO meat is better than organic local wheat.

            You have to do what works for you in your situation. Not everyone can achieve instant perfection.


            • #7
              I value eating organic and local, and we save up so that we can afford it. We'd like to keep going -- moving more and more local as we go. It's not always easy, to be sure. Right now, we do costco organics along with trader joes along with our local coop (which has more local produce). So, we've prized organic to local, and will move more toward local as we go.

              It's really about what we can afford at the moment.


              • #8
                I forgot something. Sometimes local farmers are working within organic guidelines, or even better, but they don't want to jump through the hoops and expense of being certified USDA Organic.
                "Right is right, even if no one is doing it; wrong is wrong, even if everyone is doing it." - St. Augustine


                Who says back fat is a bad thing? Maybe on a hairy guy at the beach, but not on a crab.


                • #9
                  Yes, that is true, which is why I like the co-op. They do that ground-work for me. But some of their produce is beyond my means right now, so we only buy the stuff that we can't get elsewhere, there (juicing veggies, for example). But our meat, dairy, and eggs come from there (except fish), and some of our produce, and spices/bulk items.


                  • #10
                    For me? I live at home so I have to do at least partly what my parents are on board with since they buy a lot of stuff - even when we don't need it. Don't get me started on the freezer! (short story - we have enough meat to feed a small village.)

                    Anywho. When I buy things myself I prioritize organic, locally raised meat. This is Alberta, we raise beef like champions and there are some absolutely great grass fed options. However, organic veggies in the dead of winter? Not so much. The prices are outrageous. Who can afford five dollars for a single green pepper that will just be a salad component? Bell peppers are the worst and tomatoes are close behind. I'll buy organic produce if it's only a buck more than conventional, but if it's three times as much? Pass. My parents are partly onboard with this... my mom is, really. My dad is addicted to bargains and when he sees cheap meat, he buys it.

                    So what would I recommend for you? IF you can afford it, go for meat first. It concentrated toxins. Then think about veggies. And if you can't afford it, don't sweat it. Even eating completely non-organic you'd be doing better than most people who eat SAD.
                    Out of context quote for the day:

                    Clearly Gorbag is so awesome he should be cloned, reproducing in the normal manner would only dilute his awesomeness. - Urban Forager


                    • #11
                      Well if it's possible than I buy locally. During the fruit season you can buy a lot of cherries and apples locally.
                      Meat is almost impossible to buy locally. there are a few butchers in Holland that slaughter from their own stock but they are far between.
                      As people aren't allowed to butcher themselves, not many farmers offer fresh local meat. They have to pay a butcher to do it and it's very expensive.

                      Also organic meat and fruits are very expensive here. about 50% tp 70% more expensive than conventional meat. So we only buy it once a month or once a forthnight.

                      I know it's not as healthy as to eat organic but financial stress from a high food bill is just as bad for you
                      My story, My thought....

                      It's all about trying to stay healthy!!!!


                      • #12
                        I'd do what you have time for. Buying groceries and making your own stuff isn't too time consuming if you buy more bulk. Buy organic when u can but don't stress too much. You're still in school if u don't have money for free range eggs regular eggs are still great
                        My interesting paleo weight loss blog