There are a lot of reasons to eat organic food, one of the biggest being that it’s more environment friendly, especially if it is produced locally. My own personal reason for buying and eating organic food has mainly been taste, though. The minute I bit into my first organic apple, and tasted it I just couldn’t go back. I have had people say that it’s all in my mind but when my mother took an apple out of the fruit bowl in my kitchen, bit into it and exclaimed, “That’s good! What kind of apple is this?” she didn’t know that this was an organic apple.
So, my main reason for spending just a little bit more on groceries was mostly taste, and also the fact that I like my food better when I know that there is only food in it. I tend to forget about additives when I’m at home because I always buy the same things, and don’t have to check the labels anymore. I was reminded about all the stuff that gets added to regular food though when shopping in an unfamiliar grocery store two weeks ago. I was looking for ham and salami and such and had to put back most of what had looked appealing at first glance.
Last week I went and bought a little booklet about “E numbers”. E numbers are codes for food additives in the European Union. (And I just found out that these numbers are used all over the world these days, without the E.) So when I check a food’s label there might be “E 216” listed there. Since I never know what those numbers mean I tend to stay away from all of them. In fact there are some additives that are not that bad, or downright harmless, but most of them in my little booklet are deemed unhealthy in some way.
What does that have to do with organic food? Well, currently there are 316 additives food manufacturers are allowed to use in the EU. In 1993 there were “only” 265 allowed in Germany. Their number is getting bigger and bigger. In organic food there are only 47 food additives allowed. Interestingly, when I check labels in the health food store there is never something like “E 412” listed on the label. If it’s in there it’s called guar flour.
I’m really happy that nowadays additives have to be listed on the label. I remember a time when you just didn’t know what was in there. Still, with everything labeled it is hard to shop for people with food allergies. I have a friend who can’t have anything coming from an animal, no nuts, no sulfur, and no preservatives. She has to avoid everything that’s canned or comes in a glass.
All this is doable when you’re at home and preparing your own food, even if you end up just cooking plain vegetables most of the time but you run into trouble the minute you want something more complex than a banana, when you buy bread or buns, and none of the salespersons knows if the products contain milk, eggs, or butter, and eating out can become quite the adventure.
So, in buying and eating more organically produced food I try to minimize my intake of weird chemical stuff. Like many people I started thinking about this in a more detailed way when my son started eating real food. But then, having thought about it, I couldn’t just go on eating the regular junk anymore. And, as I mentioned before, most of it doesn’t taste good anyway.
What about you? Do you know what’s in your food?