Organic Mom was in line behind me at the grocery store the other day.
Full disclosure: I have this really bad habit of looking at the contents of other people’s grocery carts. I’m not judging them. Okay, sometimes I am judging them. Mostly, I view it as “research”.
But when Organic Mom was behind me in line, I was the one who felt judged.
Organic Mom’s cart contained the following: organic yogurt, organic frozen vegetables, organic almond milk, organic spaghetti sauce, organic whole wheat pasta, and a jumbo pack of Seventh Generation diapers. She was wearing a stylish, belted trench. She was talking on her cell phone to a friend about whether the snacks at her child’s preschool were organic (I’m not making this up, I swear).
And me? I wanted to dive onto the conveyor belt and shield my items from view. Maybe using my L.L. Bean windbreaker that I bought in 1991.
I’m frequently asked if I exclusively eat organic. I don’t.
I usually buy organic apples and salad greens, items we eat a lot that tend to be higher in pesticides. If I can’t find local eggs, I buy organic because the chickens likely had better living conditions (I’ve seen Food, Inc. too many times). Sometimes I alternate buying organic and conventional on foods like yogurt and in-season strawberries to save money.
But I’m not convinced that my kids’ health will suffer if I don’t get the organic cereal. And while I love the idea of supporting sustainable farming with every single food purchase, I also love the idea of paying my mortgage.
So why does Organic Mom, through no fault of her own, make me feel inferior–like when the moms at baby music class were carrying Petunia Pickle Bottom diaper bags and I had the one we got free at the hospital? Am I secretly worried that by not spending the extra $100 a week, I’m not doing the very best I can for my children? Or am I just jealous of her shoes?
Organic food shouldn’t be some kind of status symbol or badge of good parenting. It should be a choice you make based on science, personal values, and budget. And you should feel good about buying things like fruits and vegetables for your kids, whether they carry the organic seal or not.
So next time I see Organic Mom at the store, I vow to unload my tubs of non-organic, store-brand yogurt onto the same belt as her Stonyfield Farms and try not feel bad about myself or the choices I make. And try to wear better shoes.
To learn more about the dirtiest (and cleanest) fruits and veggies, download the Environmental Working Group’s “Shoppers Guide to Pesticides in Produce“.
For tips on saving money on organic food, check out Thrifty & Green’s “Thrifty Ways to Save When Buying Organic“.