Organic food shopper's guide

March 5, 2008 5:27:16 PM PST
Organic food is popular here in the Bay Area, but do you ever feel overwhelmed by all the choices out there? Jeff Cox author of The Organic Food Shopper's Guide was here to help us take the guesswork out of shopping and eating organic.

Jeff Cox's new book The Organic Food Shopper's Guide is available at:

For more information:

Twenty Foods You Should Buy in Organic Form

    Here are 20 common foods and the problems associated with them that compel the wise buyer to look for them in organic form.

    1. Apples: pesticide and fungicide residues
    2. Beef: growth hormones, routine use of antibiotics, poor conditions in feedlots, excessive fat from grain feeding before slaughter, possibility of mad cow disease
    3. Bell Peppers: pesticide residues
    4. Carrots: pesticide and fungicide residues
    5. Celery: pesticide and fungicide residues
    6. Cherries: pesticide residues
    7. Chicken: inhumane conditions during growth and slaughter, bacterial contamination, routine use of antibiotics
    8. Citrus: pesticide residues
    9. Coffee: exploitative worker conditions, negative environmental impact on plantations: loss of bird and animal habitat, damage to soils
    10. Corn: genetic modifications, herbicide use, damage to topsoil, pesticide residues
    11. Eggs: inhumane conditions for the birds, routine use of antibiotics
    12. Grapes (Imported): Pesticide and fungicides residues
    13. Milk: use of bovine growth hormones, routine use of antibiotics
    14. Nectarines: pesticide and fungicide residues
    15. Peaches: pesticide and fungicide residues
    16. Pears: pesticide and fungicide residues
    17. Potatoes: pesticide and fungicide residues
    18. Raspberries (Red): pesticide and fungicide residues
    19. Spinach: pesticide residues
    20. Strawberries: pesticide residues

Ten Good Reasons to Buy Organic

  1. Organic products meet stringent standards. Organic certification is the public's assurance that products have been grown and handled according to strict procedures without toxic chemical inputs.

  2. Organic food tastes great! It's common sense-well-balanced soils produce strong, healthy plants that become nourishing food for people and animals.

  3. Organic production reduces health risks. Many EPA-approved pesticides were registered long before extensive research linked these chemicals to cancer and other diseases. Organic agriculture is one way to prevent any more of these chemicals from getting into the air, earth, and water that sustain us.

  4. Organic farms respect our water resources. The elimination of polluting chemicals and nitrogen leaching, in combination with soil building, protects and conserves water resources.

  5. Organic farmers build healthy soil. Soil is the foundation of the food chain. Organic farming uses practices that build healthy soils.

  6. Organic farmers work in harmony with nature. Organic agriculture respects the balance demanded by a healthy ecosystem. Wildlife is sustained by including forage crops in rotation and by retaining fence rows, wetlands, and other natural areas.

  7. Organic producers are innovators. Organic farmers have led the way, largely at their own expense, in on-farm research aimed at reducing pesticide use and minimizing agriculture's impact on the environment.

  8. Organic producers strive to preserve crop diversity. The loss of genetically diverse, open-pollinated crops on our farms is one of the most pressing environmental concerns. Many organic farmers and gardeners have been collecting and preserving heirloom seeds and growing unusual varieties for decades.

  9. Organic farming helps keep rural communities vital. The USDA reported that in 1997, half of U.S. farm production came from only 2 percent of farms. Organic agriculture can be a lifeline for small farms because it offers an alternative market where sellers can command fair prices for crops.

  10. Purchasing organic promotes the abundance of organic foods and nonfoods alike. Today, every food category has an organic alternative. And non-food agricultural products like wool, linen-even cotton, which most experts felt could not be grown organically-are now being grown in accordance with organic principles.

Source: Organic Trade Association

About Jeff Cox:
Jeff Cox is the author of 17 books on food, wine, and gardening. He's hosted two television series--Your Organic Garden on PBS and Grow It! on HGTV. He's been the restaurant reviewer for the Santa Rosa (CA) Press. He was the managing editor of Organic Gardening magazine through the decade of the 1970s. He's written a column for the San Francisco Chronicle, and is Contributing editor of Men's Health magazine and The Wine News. He writes frequently for Horticulture magazine and Decanter, an English wine magazine. He's a member of the James Beard Foundation and the Association of Food Journalists. He's won many awards for his many endeavors. Jeff has a degree in journalism from Lehigh University, has raised five kids, and lives with his wife Susanna in Kenwood, California.