Eating organic and all-natural foods has become an increasingly hot topic. I recently read an online blogger's opinion on eating grass fed versus corn fed animals-- local grocery stores and butcher shops were creating "fancy" names and marking up prices because of how "trendy" it is to eat organic meats. The blogger's opinion is that the emphasis on organic meats is more on its popularity rather than its benefits. The blogger discusses the potential of pushing away consumers who are trying to learn more about the benefits of eating organic foods rather than following a popular trend. I am one of those consumers.
When I studied nutrition in school, I was never taught why organic meats and produce were better than non-organic products. Within the last 5 years, large media exposure to organic foods has helped increase my knowledge and awareness teaching me the differences between non-organic and organic, specifically the harmful side effects of consuming excess pesticides found on non-organic fruits and vegetables and the poor dietary habits of animals.
In addition, the release of the documentary, Food, Inc, taught me the tough decisions that struggling farmers face: corn feed animals for a quicker turnaround or grass feed animals for a healthier lifestyle but slower growth. I also learned from a colleague that similar to grain farmers in the movie, her family is pursued by large grain companies to genetically modify seeds so that they will be resistant to harmful herbicides.
With the increasing technology and quick turnaround that companies seek, the food we eat is slowly becoming modified, causing damage to our health. Numerous food poisoning outbreaks from non-organic foods have occurred in recent years. Scientists expect the reasoning for this is due to the hormone injected animal's resistance to harmful bacteria, something to which our bodies have not adapted. The burning questions become: Is it safe to eat non-organic foods? Is paying top dollar for organic foods worth it? What will become of our food in the future for our children and grandchildren?
There really are no answers. As a dietitian, working in the industry and understanding the harmful effects of non-organic foods, I tend to shy away from purchasing organic foods due to their prices. I also do not believe in buying foods because they are trendy or popular. Yet, I do think about what I am eating and constantly wonder if I should pay extra for organic meats and produce for the health of my family. For friends and family who do not understand the true problems in the foods we eat, may purchase organic foods because it is the popular choice. What happens when it is no longer the popular choice? Will that behavior eliminate organic foods, possibly causing more health problems? On the other hand, what if organic foods become increasingly popular? Will food then be too expensive for us to enjoy? The answers and decision to eat organic foods are ultimately yours. Only time will tell what will happen to the food industry.
Rhea Li is a Registered Dietitian who received her Bachelor's degree in Nutrition and Master's degree in Public Health from the University of Texas. She has a special interest in working with children and has received her certification in pediatric weight management. Currently, she is working on a research study to determine the importance of nutrition in pediatric cancer patients. In the past, she has worked with pregnant women and their children. In her spare time, she enjoys being with family, exercising, traveling and of course, eating.