Monday 12 October 2015


When we can we head down our local farmers market and buy fresh flowers and produce. It's a short walk from our home, and while we would like to do it more often, for various reasons it doesn't always happen. But sometimes that gnaws at me.

When we had one child, we always shopped at what was then Macro Wholefoods in Bondi Junction. It was moderately more expensive but we enjoyed the food on offer, supporting a small business, and being conscious consumers.

However, when we moved out of the area, it was more difficult to head to About Life, which is now our nearest wholefoods store. Instead, we shop at a national grocer, and it bugs me. But it's really convenient - mainly related to time. And more recently we have gone back to online shopping. Again, it's a convenience issue, although I struggle with the fact that all the groceries are delivered in plastic bags not boxes, as was the case years ago (when we used to shop this way). And while the delivery driver will take the bags back to recycle, I always think it's better not to use plastic in the first place.

Notwithstanding where we shop, we have started to add more organic items into our shopping cart. When the children were younger we always bought organic milk but when they went to preschool and were eating and drinking non-organic foods, I questioned if it made any difference given they were receiving a mixed diet. And it was so much cheaper to buy non-organic milk. We go through about 12 litres a week. (That's more than $600 a year - just on milk! In comparison, it costs more than $1500 a year to buy organic milk.)

Recently I was talking to someone who is not faddish when it comes to these issues and they said they always bought organic milk after learning about farming practices in Australia. Now, one of the reasons I stopped buying organic milk and meat was because I always bought Australian made and was led to believe that we have high food standards.

What I was told more recently was that farmers allow their cattle to graze on land that has often been sprayed. This was reported in a reputable news program. When I heard about this, I didn't want to touch non-organic dairy-related products again. 

At about the same time, I watched this video. It was quite a revelation.

But this brings me back to the farmers market. It's not an organic farmer's market. It is buying directly from the producer, and that feels good. It's not food that has been cold stored or shipped across continents either. And the fruit - such as apples and mandarins - taste a million times better than anything in a supermarket. So I don't feel bad buying from the farmers - even if they're not organic.

I spoke to a farmer in Italy and she said to be classified organic means you have to go through a lot of paperwork and it's a lot of rigmarole - something that's not always easy for a small-scale hands-on producer. But her farm was completely chemical free. Sometimes labels can be deceptive.

What changed my mind originally on the topic of eating organically was The Ethics of What We Eat by Dr Peter Singer. It's a book that really altered my view of the world. It wasn't just about the nutritional benefits of eating organically, but about the farm practices that you're helping to encourage or discourage, whatever the case may be. It's important to me to support producers who want to farm keeping in mind the health of the animals and earth as much as their profits.

However, I do struggle with organic food that is excessively packaged - as seems to be the case when bought from supermarkets. It it such a contradiction. And given the choice of buying food from Australia that's non-organic versus something that's been shipped from another country and is organic, I will tend to go for local (due to the carbon cost). Also, a few years ago I ate food from a Wholefoods store in the USA and the food tasted highly processed. I don't know what regulations are in place State-side but it seems no matter what you eat or where you buy your food, you need to check the labels.

Here are some interesting articles on the topic:
Body + Soul includes interviews with chemical-free farmers and their viewpoints on organic farming,
Huffington Post sites a study and the benefits of organic food.
Better Health on the facts about how to recognise organic food and the nutritional benefits.

Do you eat organic food? Exclusively? What is the basis for this? Can you recommend any reputable studies, websites or books? Why is organic food consumption an issue - or not - for you and your family?

image the indigo crew


  1. All those plastic bags have really put me off online grocery shopping too! I hardly ever buy organic produce but I did look for organic blueberries the other day. We eat a lot of them and they appear on the 'dirty dozen' list (

    1. Someone else mentioned the Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen on Instagram. Such a great list. Thanks for providing the link here, Bex.