STANFORD UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF EARTH SCIENCES - EARTH SYSTEMS PROGRAM

Sustainable Choices

Buy Organic Produce

Simplicity:
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Carbon Impact:
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Money Savings:
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Health Helper:
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Overview
When you buy organic products, you are supporting farmers who subscribe to more earth-friendly and people-friendly methods of growing. The organic label tells you that the products were grown without synthetic pesticides or herbicides. Agriculture that avoids heavy chemical inputs reduces the toxins that enter out ecosystems, our water supply, and our own bodies. Some of these toxins accumulate in our bodies over a lifetime and can be passed to the next generation when mothers nurse their children.

Tips & Tricks
Ask your local grocery store about organic options. Organic products are becoming rapidly and widely available for most types of food. You can now find a wide variety of organics at most conventional grocery stores in addition to smaller natural foods stores and co-ops. For organic selections at a few of these stores, see the resources section below.

Ideas for cutting your grocery bill while going organic:
1) Buy less processed foods and do more preparation yourself. This will help cut down on cost, because processed foods are considered “value-added” products and come with a higher price tag.
2) Shop at farmers markets if you can. By buying produce directly from the growers, you can often get better deals than you would at the supermarket. You can also ask the growers questions about their growing practices.
3) Try a community-supported agriculture (CSA) program. You buy a share at the beginning of the growing season and receive a box of fresh produce every week. This can save time because CSA's are often delivered to your neighborhood or even to you door!
4) Join a food co-op. This is a member-owned business that provides members with discount prices.
5) Buy seasonal produce. When a product is in season, there is likely to be more local product on the market, which will bring the prices down.
6) Grow your own. If you have some spare time, seeds and water are invariably cheaper than market veggies.

Web & Print Resources
Organic standards—National Organic Program:
www.ams.usda.gov/nop/indexNet.htm

Organic overview:
www.nrdc.org/thisgreenlife/0704.asp

Places to buy organic:
Find Markets: www.organicconsumers.org/btc/BuyingGuide.cfm           
Whole Foods: www.wholefoodsmarket.com/
Safeway: http://shop.safeway.com/corporate/safeway/o_organics_main.asp
Trader Joe’s: www.traderjoes.com
Wal-Mart: walmart.triaddigital.com/Walmart-Organics.aspx

Farmers markets and community-supported agriculture: www.localharvest.org/

Cooperative markets:
www.localharvest.org/food-coops/
www.cooperativegrocer.coop/coops/

Organics and health:
www.drgreene.org/body.cfm?id=54&requesttimeout=60&action=list

Produce with high chemical residue:
www.foodnews.org/index.php
www.organicconsumers.org/organic/pesticide-residues.cfm

Chemical Body Burden:
www.chemicalbodyburden.org/

Organic vs. local debate:
www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1595245,00.html

Books:
The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals, by Michael Pollan
Recycle!: A Handbook for Kids, by Gail Gibbons

Fun Facts

U.S. certified organic cropland double from 1992 to 1997, to 1.3 million acres. Source

Studies show that an organic diet can reduce your chemical intake by 9 times. Source

There are 55 organic certification agents accredited by the USDA in the U.S.

Conventional produce with the highest chemical residues include: strawberries, apples, celery, cucumbers, bell peppers, potatoes, and more. For a complete list, click here.