How to buy organic food -
Why not the best?

It used to be that you could only buy organic food through a secret network of organic speakeasies and underground railroads – if you didn’t know the password, or the next “station” on the way, you were out in the cold!

All right – I exaggerated a little. But I lived through those times, and the truth wasn’t too far different from that! Nowadays, availability of organic food has increased hand-in-hand with the growth of organic advocates, and it isn’t too hard to find some variety, if you look. Here are some of the sources:

* Supermarkets. Large food chains such as Wal-Mart, Kroger, and others are stocking more and more organic food. Obviously, they mean to be there when the stampede comes -- and it IS coming, if not already here! Frequently it’s no longer in a special section, but interspersed throughout the store, alongside its conventional counterparts. If you’re buying organic, Kroger advertises 87 kinds of organic produce.

* Local Coops. These mostly exist in or near major cities, but sometimes there are also dedicated groups in very rural places, like our section of south central Kentucky. Generally, they are affiliated with some large distributor, and can order an extremely wide variety of foods, including hard-to-find items. If you don’t belong to one, think about finding one and joining. Some have requirements about work-sharing for members, but most let you shop there as a non-member if you prefer – you just have to pay markup prices as you would at any other store.

* Health food stores. Some of these carry primarily herbal products and natural vitamins, while others try to get all the organic food they can, and carry the best of other natural products that may be conventionally raised, but have some superior quality, such as free-range chicken and eggs.

* Farmers’ markets. Sometimes you can buy organic food at local open markets. If the quality is superior, consider it, even if the produce isn’t organic, provided it’s locally raised, in the light of Edgar Cayce’s recom-mendation about eating the food from your area. Be wary, though – some savvy entrepreneurs just order it in, and sell it as local, taking advantage of consumers who think they’re buying produce from their own area.

* Local producers. In rural areas, you can sometimes buy direct from local growers of free-range eggs and chicken, honey, goat’s and cow’s milk, grass-fed beef, and the like.

* The Internet. Many organic products can be bought online and mailed directly to your home. The number of companies is expanding exponentially. They’re often too expensive, but not always... Check it out.

When I buy organic food, how do I know it's really organic? For food bought in stores or established Internet companies, the USDA controls that problem. Food that qualifies for their seal is grown according to organic regulations. In addition, labels tell the consumer the percentage of organic ingredients in a product.

It’s a big step in achieving recognition for the organic ideals, but many feel the USDA doesn’t go far enough – they term a product “organic” even though it may not be entirely so. You do have to read the labels, and understand the USDA’s different categories. That’s why other organizations such as IFOAM, CCOF, and Oregon Tilth have sprung up around the country and internationally to further quality-control the process, from field to table. Of course, if you buy from a neighbor or at a produce stand, it’s probably up to you to make sure it’s actually organic.

If you can’t always afford it… Many people can’t afford to buy organic food very often. But that shouldn't mean never. Buy some occasionally, maybe instead of that hamburger. And look for chances to increase your organic buying. The point is to be moving in the right direction, and there are loads of ways you can do that, without spending a lot of money.

Organic Gardening is another option if you can’t afford to buy organic as much as you’d like-- everyone can garden to some degree, whether they live in an apartment, have a tiny back yard, or can boast of a larger space. In an apartment, you can make yogurt, and practice mini-gardening by growing Shiitake mushrooms, sprouts, and hanging pots of herbs. Maybe you could picture yourself wearing the hat of a gardener – even in a small way!

Meantime, let's check out The best natural food - when you can't buy organic!

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Paul's wildly funny memoir --


Dr. Sheila Miles is a Naturopathic Physician whom we know in Kentucky. She is Board Certified by the National Board of Examiners in Integrated/ Alternative Medicine and Natural Health Science, with a Doctorate in Natural Health Science. She is also certified in Nutrition, Homeopathy, and Herbal Preparations.

We had the privilege of editing her new book, Healthy Choices in an Unhealthy World. It's an excellent basic grounding in nutrition and a healthy lifestyle, and we are pleased to endorse it here. --
Paul and Justice

Paul and Justice

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