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Organic Foods

  1. Aug 11, 2005 #1
    I've noticed that organic foods seem to look less pristine than non-organic foods, but taste better and have less defects (rot and such).

    I'm comparing bananas specifically, since I can tell how good they are easier.

    Non-organic bananas seem to be nearly perfectly yellow on the outside. The black spots present on the outside mark very dark spots on the inside. Organic bananas seem to almost always have many black spots on the outside, but almost none on the inside.

    I sometimes buy organic vegetables from farmers' markets and quakers. I find the food quality to be superior to nearly all non-organic foods I find in grocery stores. The organic food is slightly more expensive in grocery stores and cheaper in the markets.

    Organic food seems to be slightly more expensive but much better. Is it feasible to have all our food organic?
     
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  3. Aug 11, 2005 #2

    Mk

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    This now makes me want to conduct a test. I think I will.

    I think there won't be much of a difference at all. I'll see.
     
  4. Aug 11, 2005 #3

    Evo

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    Sorry to burst your bubble, but there are no "organic" bananas. The banged up bananas that no one will buy are labeled "organic" and sold for twice the regular price. :biggrin: <teasing>

    Organic bananas? So, they are grown in the US? I'm not aware of pesticides used on banana farms in S America, I know they have lots of snakes though. I watched a program about it, that's the main problem with bananas, the snakes.

    Organic vegetables taste no different from "non-organic", IMHO. Perhaps what you are thinking about is produce that is picked fresher or left to ripen naturally as opposed to being picked green and either ripened through transit or chemically? That has nothing to do with "organic" though.
     
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2005
  5. Aug 11, 2005 #4

    Moonbear

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    It's not feasible to have all food organic. The reason we can feed all the people we have and not have massive famine is because we can use pesticides, fungicides and fertilizers to keep our large crops from being eaten by pests or the land from being leeched of all nutrients.

    The actual plant varieties aren't necessarily different between organic and regular produce, organic just means chemicals aren't used.

    The difference in quality you're noticing is that you're buying from small local producers/sellers. They probably take more care with the produce that it doesn't get bruised since it's a bigger loss for them to not be able to sell bruised fruits or vegetables than for the big supermarket to lose some cheaper vegetables that aren't organic. The other difference (though not for bananas...it might just be whoever they're buying from that makes the difference there) is that locally grown fruits and vegetables will taste better because they can ripen more fully on the vine, while commercially grown produce is picked unripe and allowed to ripen off the vine so it will last longer during shipping. For some produce for which there are multiple varieties that can be grown, the local grower can also choose ones that will be more flavorful or juicier because, again, they don't need to worry about it being able to tolerate shipping. This has nothing to do with it being organic, but with it being locally grown on smaller scale farms rather than being commercially grown for shipping.
     
  6. Aug 11, 2005 #5

    Kerrie

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    i work with a lot of agricultural companies, and the main difference between organic and non-organic is the lack of pesticides used in the growing, harvesting, cleaning of the produce. take an apple for example...when you are at the store, note how shiny a regular apple is to an organic one. wax is applied to the everyday apple not only to give it a shine, but to help preserve it. some apples you get have been in cold storage for months! others are more seasonal. i tried buying organic there for awhile, and it turns out that my produce went bad faster. if you truly want good taste and fresh produce, you need access to a garden or local produce stand.

    also, organic produce has very strict standards in order to become organic, which makes it more expensive for those growing, packing and selling it. many of the smaller packing houses tend to stay away from the organic route because of how difficult it is to achieve those standards.

    btw, i have been in the packing houses for apples where the wax is applied, and after smelling it, i always wash my apples before i eat them. :smile:
     
  7. Aug 11, 2005 #6
    Thanks for the information!

    I notice little difference in taste as well, but I pick out foods that look better, so the average might be more or less tasty.

    I'm aware that the difference between organic and non-organic is whether or not chemicals are used (different varieties never occured to me, actually).

    Some of the organic bananas I eat are shipped from fairly far away and are mostly w/o inner black spots. I suppose it's primarily a locality thing.

    How much more land does it take to grow organic vegetables and such, anyway? I imagine it's more, but I understand that organically-grown foods are also more sustainable.

    Also, do large agriculture businesses bother choosing the best produce? I thought they just added chemicals to make everything look good.
     
  8. Aug 11, 2005 #7
    I buy organic fair trade because I want to support the small farmers, not the corporate farms. Where I live there is no scarcity of organic produce.
     
  9. Aug 11, 2005 #8

    russ_watters

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    I accidentally went into a "Whole Foods" supermarket once and felt like I had ants crawling over me the whole time I was in there. It gave me the heebie jeebies. I needed a shower after I left. Pay twice the price for inferior food? What are they smoking (yes, I already know the answer to that question)?

    All GM and chem'd up (bug free) for me, baby.
     
  10. Aug 11, 2005 #9

    Mk

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    Why support the "small farmers?" (just thinking)
     
  11. Aug 11, 2005 #10

    Moonbear

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    Sustainable agriculture and organic are two separate things. You need a lot more land for organic crops, at least if you're doing it on a large scale, because you have more crop loss/waste. On a small scale, as long as someone can get out and pick bugs off the garden every day you probably won't have much more loss than in a small garden where pesticides are used.

    A lot of factors go into what varieties they choose, such as crop yield, drought resistance, time to maturity, uniformity of size, resistance to insects and molds and other plant diseases, and quality of the fruit for shipping and/or storage. This is why you get so many store-bought tomatoes that seem sort of tough and tasteless. In order to be able to tolerate bouncing around a truck or train car while being shipped across the country, you really can't grow the same sort of juicy tomato you'd grow in your backyard. It's a compromise between taste and durability. Neither the farmers nor the retailers can afford to have the produce arriving half squished or rotting on the truck during shipment. But, it means I can buy an avocado in Ohio, even if it's not as good as the one I might be able to buy at a farm stand in California. The only alternative would be to have less variety of produce and instead only buy what is locally grown (within the state instead of across country). However, we've all grown more "exotic" tastes and I think it would be hard to go back to folks on the east coast not having a clue what an avocado is or folks on the west coast struggling to find cranberries for Thanksgiving dinner. I don't even know if we could go back to that system since so much of our former farmland has houses and shopping malls and interstate highways built on it now.

    Organic is great if you have it available at a local farm stand and can buy just enough for a day or two at a time, but I don't really think it's worth the extra expense at the grocery store where it's still mass-produced, tasteless varieties (you're just paying extra for bugs and horse manure :tongue:), or if you are someone who only has time to do the grocery shopping once a week or once every two weeks and need produce that will last in the fridge a while.

    I haven't had the experience you've had with bananas. Your grocery store might just have too slow of turnover and has older bananas out for sale, or the stock clerks might toss them around and bruise them more. When mine turn all black and spotty on the outside, they're just soft and ripe inside and ready for being made into banana nut bread (I don't like eating soft bananas).
     
  12. Aug 11, 2005 #11

    russ_watters

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    I hate to break it to you, but small farmer does not equal organic food. My grandfather (recently retired) owns a ~65 acre farm. When I asked him about the debate over organic foods, he damn near laughed at me. But then, he did about 1/3 soybeans, and pretty much all soybeans today are GM (also 1/3 corn, 1/3 potatoes, plus a small garden of a couple thousand square feet, maybe a row or two of pumpkins and strawberries). And the thought of not using pesticides was pretty amusing to him.
     
  13. Aug 11, 2005 #12

    Moonbear

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    :rofl: Every once in a while I need to go into one of those for an ingredient I can't get at the regular supermarket. The one near here has very little produce and mostly packaged goods. Some brands I never knew were organic (I'm not even sure they really are now either), and never in my life paid as much as they charge for them...they are regular brands in the NJ grocery stores, so I learned to just fill my suitcase when I visit my sister. Oh, but the whole foods (or some related type store) in Ann Arbor, MI was the place to buy the really good microbrew beers. :biggrin:
     
  14. Aug 11, 2005 #13

    Moonbear

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    There's a caution on the USDA website that I came across a while ago that tells corn producers not to label their product GMO-free. In other words, the USDA is saying it's impossible to know if it is or isn't, and there has probably been too much cross-fertilization to say any of it isn't. I don't have any problems with it anyway, since in many cases, it's just a matter of speeding up the process of genetic selection by taking genes for resistance to disease and sticking them into the plants rather than taking the time to do all the generations of selective breeding to get the same gene into the plant naturally. Though, organic and GMO-free aren't the same either. A lot of people seem to have this misconception, but if you grow GM crops without pesticides, you can still label them organic. It also doesn't even mean you didn't kill the pests. You can sit out and shoot the rabbits from the garden and pluck the bugs off and stomp on them and it's still organic as long as you didn't use any pesticides or poisons. I point this out because there are also people who think organic means no animals or insects were harmed to grow it.

    I still prefer biting into an apple and feeling fairly confident I'm not going to find half a worm in it. :yuck:
     
  15. Aug 11, 2005 #14
    Wait there's a wax on apples? Wouldn't that be water resistant? So you'd have to use some kind of detergent to get it off, and not just water?

    :yuck:
     
  16. Aug 12, 2005 #15

    russ_watters

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    Yes, wash your apples with soapy water.

    And biting into them, you'll notice that the redness of the skin has bled into the apple a few mm. What do you think that is...?
     
  17. Aug 12, 2005 #16
    The soap running? :tongue2: :biggrin: :rofl: :smile:
     
  18. Aug 12, 2005 #17

    Moonbear

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    You should wash them even if they didn't have wax on them!

    Russ, where and what kind of apples do you buy?! I've never seen anything like that with the redness penetrating into the skin. Then again, I rarely buy an apple that's sold all red looking. The only ones that appear that way to me are the red delicious variety, but those are a rather bland, soft apple and seem to spoil too quickly. I prefer things like Fuji, Braeburn, Jonagold, and Gala varieties. Oh, now you've reminded me of the ONE thing I used to like about MI. I lived only a few miles from an orchard, so in the fall, I could get the apples that were just picked, and they grew the Jonagold variety (along with some of the more tart varieties like Granny Smith...I like using those in pies, but not for eating uncooked). :approve:

    My grandfather used to have apple, pear, peach and plum trees (I think they still have a few peach trees, but sold off the property that had the other trees on it and they were taken down to build a house on that property :frown:). There is nothing better than fruit right from the tree. Then again, even though he used pesticides and spent ridiculous amounts of time trying to chase off birds and squirrels, the rest of us would have been happy to share some of them with the bugs and birds when he showed up at our house with bushels and bushels of fruit in the fall that then needed to be canned.

    On the other hand, I bought a variety of apple recently...okay, not too recently...a few months ago I guess...I had cut half of it into pancakes for breakfast and had the other half sitting on the counter while I ate breakfast. When I went back to it later to clean up all the dishes, it hadn't turned brown like you'd expect the cut edge of an apple to do. This seemed really odd, so I left it out on the counter longer. By the end of the day, it still hadn't turned brown! There were a few little specks of what looked more yellow or gold than brown, but they were just tiny specks. I don't usually leave apples sitting around like that so was pretty impressed with it. I was tempted to go out and buy a bunch of varieties of apples and cut them in half and leave them out to find out how many have this trait now (maybe I'll do that in the fall and make a big apple pie and just leave out a slice of each variety to see what happens). But, hey, if it means you don't have to rub your apples with lemons to put them out as slices on platters, and they still taste good, I'm all for it!
     
  19. Aug 12, 2005 #18
    I see, it's an issue of locality of crops.

    (I'll wash all my apples from now on, btw)
     
  20. Aug 12, 2005 #19

    russ_watters

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    I don't buy apples much - my mom used to comment on it every now and then. And yes, for eating, bright red isn't the best anyway. But they do make for pretty Christmas decorations...
     
  21. Aug 12, 2005 #20

    Kerrie

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    red delicious are very bland...pink lady, fuji, galas are for me!
     
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