If I didn’t work in Hollywood I probably wouldn’t use an organic product again. Sound Strange? One year ago I would have thought the same thing. I even wrote in my cookbook “The Private Chef” how in favor of organics I was. The whole time I had this little twinge inside me whispering, “Don’t drink the Kool-Aid.” When I finally started to listen it didn’t take me long to discover that I had been sucked in like millions of others.
There are three major components to why people choose organic over conventionally grown products.
1. They believe they’re helping the little guy and extending their middle finger to big business.
2. It’s better for the environment. Getting rid of those nasty pesticides could only be a good thing.
3. They’re better for you and taste better.
Let’s start with 1. Contrary to popular belief, most organically grown foods are produced by a handful of the biggest companies of conventionally grown and produced foods. So unless you are handing your ten dollars for a head of Romaine lettuce directly to a local farmer, the chances are you are not delivering a blow to big business. When the fad of eating organic foods started, big business said what the hell. We can grow less food and charge more for it!
2. Better for the environment? Hardly. Harmful pesticides have not been used by conventional growers for nearly thirty years. It is one of the most scrutinized areas of government. We tend to get caught up in the “All Natural” lingo that drives most consumers these days but let me remind you that lead is also all natural. Most organic farmers have to use seven times the amount of so called “natural pesticides. One of the main ones used is called Rotenone. This is an extract from the roots of plants and can be toxic. It is known to cause symptoms of Parkinson’s when injected into rats. It also takes farmers twice the acreage to grow the same amount of crops. So if your against deforestation you better thing twice about buying organic fruits and vegetables.
3. Better for you? After finding out how organic food is grown, I think not. By the way, each time I go into a whole foods market, which is often when you work in Hollywood, I ask the produce manager approximately what percentage of fruits and vegetables are organically grown. The answer most given? Anywhere from 30-50%! So at any given time the percentage isn’t much more than most grocery store chains. The only difference is you have to sell some of your belongings before you shop at a whole foods market.
Better tasting? Take the challenge. What have you got to loose except the high prices charged at organic markets. Do a blind taste test! I have! I will take technology over some dread-locked kid at Whole Foods trying to push unpasteurized cheese on me any day. Has anyone ever heard of Louis Pasteur?
As long as I keep working for the rich and famous and I buy food on their dime, I will do whatever is asked of me. But at home…it’s conventional. Now you may choose to continue to use organics and that is your prerogative. But don’t kid yourself into thinking it is causing a blow to big business or helping the environment.
The Private Chef