Committing to Organic

I’m lucky enough to have green spaces, cafĂ©s, shops, and cultural centers within walking distance of my office. And there’s plenty of people-watching opportunities in our New England college town. I was outside on a beautiful day recently and fell into step behind a young woman. She was lean and blond and looked the picture of health. Then she lit a cigarette, and my impression changed in an instant.

This is not a lecture on the evils of smoking. Instead, I’m thinking about a realization I had when a fit-looking college student lit up: You can’t always determine health at a glance. Or toxicity, as the case may be.

The lesson applies to food too. At the market, in the kitchen, on our plates, and in our children’s lunch boxes—conventional foods don’t look much different from organic ones, do they? I’ve seen (and eaten) plenty of gorgeous apples from conventional orchards. But now that I know that apples are the dirtiest of the Environmental Working Group’s “Dirty Dozen,” I’m all too aware of the pesticide residue I’ve consumed.

Apples are, of course, just a particularly vivid example of a problem that goes deep in our country’s food system. I buy organic because it’s the best way to protect myself and my family from exposure to pesticides used on conventional farms and in food processing. (The clear environmental benefits and the safer conditions for farm workers factor in too.) But I’m convinced that organic shouldn’t be a choice that some lucky few of us get to make.

Consumers rarely have pesticide residue–detecting equipment on hand, and not everyone has as much time as I do to think about an apple’s back story. Unfortunately, we cannot make the change on our own.

Celebrated nutritionist Marion Nestle was interviewed in an impressive new volume on global food policy called Eating Planet. In the interview, she reminds us that it took “aggressive action on the part of governments” to implement anti-smoking policies. Personal choice is paramount, but what policies can we envision that create an environment where clean food is the norm—and what steps will we take to work toward them together?


Posted by: Johanna Arnone, Chief Content Officer and Strategist

Latest blog posts

Spring Cleaning: A Good Time for the Soul

Green Moms  Being in a family home for the past 9 years has shown me very quickly that spring cleaning is not a one-day operation.Actually, it’s become more like a month-long torture machine, which explains why I procrastinate for as long as possible.To add insult to injury, traditional cleaners... Read more

What's Your Dream?

Destination True North Have you ever had a moment when you realized you had to make a choice between staid status quo and living an adventure, a dream? Perhaps, there was nothing wrong with life in the here and now,  or perhaps you were facing heartache or a challenge that felt like a mountain of worldly... Read more

Juicifying Life!

Taste For Life Blog I have friends who swear by juicing, including one who claims he felt almost euphoric for more than a week due to drinking juice breakfasts. I love being able to buy a nice, freshly wrangled juice, especially at our new community co-op where there’s a juice and smoothie bar.But to make my own... Read more

Don't Let Passion Slip Away!

Destination True North How many times have you said you wanted to do something—you've pined away for going to an event or taking up a passion—and somehow it doesn't happen. It's not that the hands of times slip idly through your's simply that, if you are anything like yours... Read more

Garden Therapy

Destination True North  There is nothing like gardening to restore your faith in the nature of things. And, I want to support the efforts of those who are dedicated to growing things—to buy locally and to be more connected to the source. I've made a vow to myself this summer to visit supermarkets as... Read more