Organics For Dummies

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In accordance with my own New Year's resolutions, I donated all of the conventional food in my kitchen. Now I hate shopping. Especially for shoes. Going to the supermarket has been known to give me nightmares. I know, I know... A woman who doesn't like to shop? What's the world coming to?

Bearing in mind my tendency to assume the expression of a deer right before 35 tons of steel plow through its cranium while trying to calculate how many ounces are in a pound to determine which spaghetti noodles are the cheapest (not to mention the Regular vs. Whole Wheat debate), I asked a friend to accompany my partner and I.

Now our friend, Christopher, has been organic for about four years now due to multiple chemical sensitivity. Before you go and Google that, yes, some believe it to be "all in your head." Let's just say that in just a few weeks, I have found that the difference is I used to spend a chunk of a typical evening in the bathroom with a good book. Organics mean that I do not have to ensure that the nearest restroom is within 50 feet. "All in your head" my butt. So we figured that it was best to learn from his mistakes rather than making our own.

That is how I found myself reading store codes (initial digit of "9" indicates organic) in the produce section and pawing wistfully at the ice cream freezers. I remember when the only organic products you could find were of a granola variety and tasted like bark and twigs. Imagine the happy dance when I discovered that there are organic oreos, no more high fructose corn syrup! There is even organic ice cream, whereas before you were lucky if you got pureed fruit on a stick. Not only are there more and more varieties of food being offered, but there are even options between a handful of companies for most products. (Personally, I don't need fifty choices of brands for canned corn).

We only got one very strange look, but I suppose a woman asking the opinion of two men concerning hair care products warranted that. While I am not fairly loquacious in public, I do tend to be the odd one who never learned not to talk to strangers. I told her about my New Year's resolution and joked that, "There is no Organics for Dummies book."

Here are some main points that I learned, so hopefully you won't have to learn the hard way:
  1. Read the label backwards. A product is required to be at least 95% organic for certification, and if you remember from home-ec the ingredients are listed in descending order of overall percentage. If the final ingredient is "organic spice extract" you are good to go.
  2. Just because it says organic does not mean that it actually is. Chips, for example, may have been made with organic corn, but the oil might not be. While this has not yet *knocks on wood* been a problem for me, your mileage may vary. When doubt look for the little green and white symbol, it will become your friend.
  3. If it contains anything you cannot reasonably pronounce, don't eat it.
The down side was when I hit the register. Yes, each item was a little more expensive, and it adds up. The way I figure it is this: it's cheaper than cancer, easier this way to support local businesses, and, quite frankly, I save on toilet paper.

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