What’s Your Motivation To Choose Organic?

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What's Your Motivation To Choose Organic?I don’t have a lot of brand preferences when it comes to food.   it’s important to me to keep our kitchen as organic and GMO free as I can, working within the budget I have, so my considerations are generally to shop for the “cleanest” food I can find at the lowest price.

To my delight, both the large supermarket and the small, local grocer where I do most of my shopping have been expanding their selection of store-brand organics. We usually end up choosing those when they are offered simply because they are the least expensive.

Organic and all-natural products generally have some sort of little message on the box that says something along the lines of, “Even though we are a company that employes a zillion people around the world we are moms and dads just like you and this recipe was created by sweet little old apron-wearing grannies in a kitchen surrounded by rainbows and unicorn dust to be as healthy as possible for your family.” (Paraphrased)

The notes always make me roll my eyes a little. It takes a lot of grannies to churn thousands of pounds of organic butter every day!  It’s advertising. Take it with a grain of salt and use your common sense to know that even organic stuff is produced/packaged by relatively low-wage workers in gigantic factories.

Then one day I noticed the note on the back of a box of Kraft Organic Macaroni and Cheese.

First, let me say, before anyone else brings it up, I realize that “organic” and “healthy” are not synonymous and orange-colored cheese dust is never going to pass the “is it real food” inspection.  Often I make my own mac and cheese from… well… from actual mac and actual cheese.  But sometimes we eat this. Judge me if you must.

Second, I should probably admit that Kraft is a brand that I pay attention to when I’m shopping. I notice them to avoid them.  I thought the way they handled the recent petitions by the ladies at The Food Babe and 100 Days of Real Food showed a distinct lack of class and disdain for the consumers that keep their company open.  They did eventually cave to pressure… sort of… as little as possible…. but the whole thing just put me off of them in a big way.

However, because there are only a few stores around me that carry organic choices they often sell out quickly and, sometimes, Kraft is what’s left and I end up reluctantly giving them a bit of my money.

So, this one day I’m in the kitchen waiting for the noodles to cook and I happen to see the picture on the box.

I look cool?

Really?

You think I chose the $2/box macaroni instead of the $.68 stuff because I wanted to be a trendsetter?

You really think that the consumers who make organic choices are that shallow and lame?

I buy organic food for my family because, after an absurd amount of research (no one should have to work so hard to find out what’s in their food!), I decided it’s the HEALTHIEST choice.

My family doesn’t have a lot of money. Spending extra on organic food means we go without things that many people take for granted.  If I wanted to look cool I would whittle my groceries down to the lowest possible cost, buy the cheapest crap on the market and use my money to get some clothes that have never been previously worn by others. Maybe I’d even wildly splurge on a professional haircut and a manicure! I could indulge in cable TV. Imagine the luxury!

At least I can take comfort in knowing, as I stand in the checkout line with my mouse-brown pony tail and my decade old clothes, that the grocery store cashier thinks I’m fabulous.

It’s fair to say that I found Kraft’s message offensive.

But then I started thinking… the majority of Americans do not make organic food choices.  Is this how they see people who do?

Do those “in the mainstream” think that those who live a “crunchy” lifestyle are doing it because it’s trendy at the moment?

It’s not my experience.  I started on this path because I was concerned about how many diapers I was putting in the landfill. That led to researching the effects of our modern society on our planet and on our bodies. Two years later I’m growing my own veggies from heirloom seeds and using baking soda deodorant.

The way I live now is, in many ways, more difficult than the way I lived before.  Every choice is researched and thought out. I don’t do it because it’s cool or because a celebrity said I should or because I’m trying to make a statement to the world. I do it because these choices have made me feel stronger and healthier than I ever have and I want my children to grow up feeling strong and healthy.

Every single other person I know who strives for an “organic lifestyle” does so for the same reasons.

But I wonder…

Maybe we are in the minority because people in “the mainstream” see us just the way the box-writers at Kraft see us.  Maybe people think that I’m buying organic salad dressing because Paul Newman has pretty blue eyes. Maybe they don’t realize that the petroleum-based food dyes in the regular mac and cheese have been proven by the medical community to cause symptoms very like those of ADHD and autism and that they are limited or banned in most countries around the world because of their negative health effects.

I am curious to know. What do you think?

Do people buy organic to be trendy?

Do “the crunchies” need to get better at explaining the reasons behind their choices?

Do folks in the mainstream even want to know our reasons, or do you think that many of them are working on an “ignorance is bliss” mentality?

Are you, too, seeking to save the earth, promote world peace and raise productive citizens without expending too much effort?

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14 responses »

  1. I agree the box was deeply offensive (but funny too… I mean come on kraft, really!?!?!) People need to stop judging others and start turning the focus on themselves. What they eat, how they feel about it and not judge others. Okay maybe try to educate others a little along the way but not beat others down. An uninformed customer can’t make an educated decision. And your right, organic and healthy do NOT go hand in hand. And the label organic is thrown around way too much by the food industry in order to charge more, in my opinion. But then again I have an apron, rainbows, unicorn dust in my kitchen *wink*

  2. My husband and I ate mostly organic before but when we had kids we made the decision to only feed them organic foods that contain no processed sugars. We rarely eat processed foods. We make most things from scratch. We make no exceptions. This means that in order to survive on one salary with three kids, we must be very careful with our money. We buy in bulk (flour, oats), we garden and can, we hunt, we make maple syrup and when we splurge, we try to keep it local. It costs more to buy our local 5lb jar of honey than the cheap stuff at the supermarket but we are supporting a neighbor. We trade some times. We eat organic because I believe that it is better to consume natural foods that have not be grown with harmful chemicals. It is better for our minds, bodies and our environment. I am willing to be crunchy if it means we are healthier. My dad was a huge nonbeliever but with the grandkids, he has switched over to organics and he loves the flavor difference of his foods and the changes in his healthy. People look at me crazy for only eating organic but only a few people actually want to understand why we do what we do. I have met lots of people who feel that a life without Oreos is not a life. We eat sweets like cookies and cakes, we just use unprocessed ingredients.

    Side note: we make our own bread but we usually have a few dishes in the sink. Our house is lived in but we are happy and not using chemicals. I guess it all comes down to what you believe in and want for yourself and those you take care of. Thanks for the great post.

  3. When I read the message on the Kraft package here, I almost fell out of my chair. Is that real? Maybe I’m just living in a happy bubble where the local and organic foods movement is strong in my community, but I had NEVER heard of anyone eating organic to look cool. I’m definitely with you on the whole thing about buying clothes that aren’t second hand if I wanted to try to impress people with how trendy I was. I suppose if its getting to the level of Kraft foods selling organic though, they would really be shooting themselves in the foot to mention the REAL reasons people choose to buy organic (health, environmental, etc.), since the bulk of their products are exactly the kind of processed foods that people are moving away from. That’s the only way I can make sense out of it…

    • Haha! It’s funny because I had the opposite thought. My daughter actually gets embarrassed about us being one of a tiny handful of families we know who eat organic. It doesn’t feel trendy at all. It feels like swimming upstream. That said, you’re right. If they say on the organic box, “you’ve made such a great, healthy choice,” that would be saying, “all of our other products are crap.” I guess that’s not a good strategy. Maybe they should just put a picture of Spongebob or something and leave it alone!

  4. I’m going to be honest…the people that Kraft was talking about really do exist. I recently worked at an office in a “trendy” part of Atlanta and, in all seriousness, a lot of these yuppies were trendy healthy eaters. (And I’m sorry if I offended anyone with the term “yuppy!”) But I’m not kidding when I tell you that these people would take off their Prada sunglasses just long enough to turn their noses up at a menu and ask if something was Organic and Fair Trade as if their entire happiness depended on it. Yet they had no hesitation when it came to hopping into their gas guzzling SUV’s or wearing garments made by children in sweatshops and then sold for more than those same children would see in three lifetimes. It truly was all about the image. I guess those are the only people that Kraft has encountered! (And yes, the absurd display is just as irritating as it sounds.)
    On the other side, though…I agree that there are way more real-life people that are NOTHING like those I described above. They are people who actually care about themselves, their health, their families, and the impact that their way of life has on others both present and future. They actually know what Organic and Fair Trade really mean, and they live a lifestyle that reflects that they care about things that are more than surface-deep…like looking cool with a box of macaroni. (Really?!?! What twerps!)

    • I suppose that’s true but… it just seems like such a weird, snarky thing to put on the box. Or maybe I’m just over sensitive. I’ve been accused of it before!

  5. That’s an odd message.

    We opt to not buy organic. I guess I feel I did okay growing up with non-organic foods. But a lot of my friends DO buy organic.

  6. I don’t buy 100% organic, because I want to buy lots of fresh fruits and veggies and the grocery money will only stretch so far. So we try to buy organic based on the “common sense” reasoning of–if there’s no peel or if we eat the peel, buy organic–lettuce, berries, etc. I love fresh produce and it certainly makes sense to be that it’s better to eat produce that doesn’t have pesticide residue.

  7. Great post. I find the major food producers very condescending. I also find doctors very condescending. Both roll their eyes when we ask questions about what’s in food, what’s in drugs, etc. Why should we not be educated consumers and patients. They what to keep us blind. And they want to portray us as fanatics or “trendy.” As if it’s just a phase we’re going through. I’m sorry, I want to make it to old age without the help without a daily regimen of 30 prescriptions that all cause side effects. I choose to eat organic because I want to be healthy now and when I’m 80 (Lord willing). Not because I want to be part of the “cool crowd.”

  8. I think there are some peeps who buy organic so they look cool but I think more people are realizing our bodies cannot process the chemicals and hormones pumped into our foods. I don’t know a single person who life has not been touched by cancer in some way. I wonder how this would be if we all ate organic. There is a definite link.

  9. As a vegan who also tries to eat organic and fair-trade, I really struggle with how mainstream shoppers perceive my food choices. I do it for health reasons and also because I value the environment, but I think a lot of people see it as a “trend” thing or some sort of weird paranoia about maintaining a certain weight, that sort of thing. Or they’ll go, well, you buy organic salad but you chug coffee, how’s that healthy? I think better education is key, but it has to start with us, and sadly a lot of people I know are very high and mighty about their shopping habits instead of explaining gently and in layman’s terms why being choosier about food is so important.

    I try to tell myself that my life is a great testament to the power of food choices, and some of my friends and family are now starting to change their tune because they’ve seen that I’m healthier now and it isn’t just a “fad”. But I still face condescension from others, friends and doctors alike, who are convinced I’m not doing myself any good or am even harming myself. I just smile and say, time will tell!!

    BTW, happy SITS day to you!

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