As someone who was raised in a rural town in Ohio, I have a strong connection with the farming community. In fact, many of my ancestors were farmers. This is why it bothers me when I’m judged for buying organic. Usually, when the topic comes up, it’s followed by a rolling of the eyes and a speech about how expensive organic groceries are or how they’re not any healthier than the standard variety.
When most people think of shopping organic, they picture rich people or hipsters browsing through Whole Foods. However, numerous stores are now starting to sell organic products. Even Aldi and Winn Dixie have jumped on the organic bandwagon. I personally favor Trader Joe’s, but I know not all communities have one nearby
As much as people rave about shopping at farmers markets, I’ve never found it to be helpful. There are a lot of vendors simply using the guise of a “farmers market” to sell subpar products or produce. Plus, let’s be honest, what working person has the time or motivation to wake up early on a Saturday to go to a farmers market? (Not trying to hate on those of you who do prefer shopping farm to table, you overachiever you).
Buying “organic” is becoming increasingly affordable. More than that though, I believe organic products are worth the price even when they are more expensive. I’m not close to being rich and am constantly looking for ways to save money in my day to day life – but this is one area in which I don’t like to compromise.
Why? To support farmers and their way of life.
Young people and Progressives love to talk about chemicals in foods and animal abuse, but what about the abuse of farmers? Don’t get me wrong, I care about animals – but I care more about humans. Despite what most vegetarians and vegans believe, farmers care and love their livestock. Yes, they understand that the animals will be butchered, but they don’t want to cause suffering or abuse their animals. Many meat processing giants force farmers to keep livestock inside with no access to fresh air or room to walk around. Windows aren’t even allowed in many housing facilities. This not only is cruel to the livestock but to the farmer forced to follow protocol or lose their livelihood. Even worse, the cheapest meats are imported from countries like China, forcing American farmers to compete with extremely low prices and horrendous farming practices. Is this what we want?
Produce isn’t any better. You may not care that your food is covered in pesticides, but what about the farmers and their families who are covered in pesticides? Additionally, companies like Monsanto hold farmers to such strict rules that they can barely make a profit off their crops. Farmers are forced to buy seeds each year and are price gouged to the point that farmers sometimes lose money on their yearly yield. It’s no wonder we have seen an alarming increase in mental health problems for farmers and their families. Many families have farmed for generations, and now they must choose to be a pawn for Big AG or risk losing everything. This is no way to treat the backbone of our country.
There is a brighter side to all of this though. The number of Americans who have decided to support organic farms is rising, motivating even large companies to offer organic products. For example, Purdue now offers organic chicken at Walmart and BJs, making the option more affordable for families on a budget. Most conservatives believe in the free market where consumers are in control via supply and demand. If we demand ethical food production, then companies will be obligated to follow suit. Don’t be fooled, as food production can be both affordable and ethical. Not only do our families deserve better – but America’s farmers deserve better. We may not always be able to support farmers by eating organic products, but by incorporating more of them into our diets, we can do a lot of good for ourselves and our country.