May 312008

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?

  5 Responses to “Why I mostly eat organic food”

  1. We have a mixed fortune: a wide selection available at competitive supermarkets, but very few local farmers. I’m envious of people who live in “real” farming states.

    I buy very little that is processed or prepared, and we eat very simply – “naked” food – because I really don’t care to do that much with it.

  2. I’m pretty obsessed with reading labels. And our grocery bill is huge, because we buy healthy foods. But, I figure that healthy food into the body means healthier bodies and bodies less open to disease for my children. And all of this is balanced out with heavy doses of chocolate…

  3. Do you know how lucky you are in this way to live where you do?

    Here…never have heard of such a book (whioch doesn’t preclude it’s existence but I think I probably would have HEARD of it). They are too busy regulating supplements and homeoptathic remedies to ensure they don’t state what they are for.

    Also, because consumers are getting more savvy, they are changing the way they label ingredients. For example, consumers are avoiding “corn syrup” so manufacturers are calling it something else (can’t recall, not one of the common ones we know well, Latin maybe).

    I do read labels but it feels almost useless some days. I try to keep it as simple as possible and only buy packaged things (jams, etc.) when I can personally lay my hands on every ingredient in my house that is on the label. Make sense?

  4. Here it is also difficult and expensive to buy organic food. However we started growing our own winter vegetables again this year.

    You might enjoy this book:

  5. like de, we try to buy ingredients instead of prepared foods. of course, there are plenty of times when we fall off the cliff and end up with Oreos or Cheez Doodles, but the basic foods of breakfast, lunch, dinner are things we prepare.

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