Much has been written and debated about the merits (or lack thereof) of buying organic. Here at Gatheredtable, we think organic sounds great! I mean, what’s not to like about buying food that’s grown without the use of chemical pesticides, herbicides, or synthetic fertilizers? However, on the grocery store shelf (or online portal), organic options are often more expensive than their conventionally grown counterparts, thus begging the age old question of “is it worth it?!”
When my kids were toddlers I had an “only organic” rule for produce, which ended the day my husband came home with a now-infamous $10 cantaloupe. In my own personal quest to learn when to choose organic and when not to bother, I discovered the Environmental Working Group’s lists of the “Clean Fifteen” (produce safest to consume conventionally) and “Dirty Dozen” (produce best to buy organic).
At Gatheredtable, we can fill your online grocery cart with everything you need for the week! If, like most of our customers, you “sometimes” prefer organic produce, we’ll follow the EWG guidelines and (when available) give you the “Dirty Dozen” in organic form and the “Clean Fifteen” in conventional form.
Now for some of our own kitchen-counter science:
- Taste tests: I’ve always believed that a large benefit to eating organic is the superior taste. To test this hypothesis, we conducted a blind taste test here at gatheredtable with five summer fruits. You can see the results below.
- Pricing tests: While organic can be a lot more expensive, the price difference narrows if you shop and eat with the seasons. We checked five stores for pricing on the same five summer fruits, both organic and conventional. Our findings are also below.
- Ripeness trumps organic for taste: We found that the ripeness of the fruit impacted the taste more than organic-ness. Our organic cantaloupe was so ripe it needed to be shepherded by a wad of paper towels, which is why it got 100% of the votes. On the other hand, the organic and conventional peaches were equally ripe, which is why everyone said they were the hardest to choose between. So if it’s not a Dirty Dozen item, go for ripeness first!
- Buy organic when in-season: The price difference between organic and conventional is much lower when purchasing produce in-season. Go organic without “splurging” by following the seasons.
- Make knowledge fun: A “blind” taste test is a great way to have fun with your kids (or friends) and open a discussion around organic choices, seasonality, and taste. The execution of “blind” is open to interpretation though– I walked into our kitchen conference room to find team members literally blindfolded…
There is always more to learn though. Here are some links we found helpful:
- USDA’s “What is Organic?”
- Organic Certification Process
- EWG’s List of Fruits & Vegetables with Pesticide Residue Data
As always, if you have any questions, please let us know! (leave a comment or email firstname.lastname@example.org)