I'm a college senior and I've had a vegetarian diet for about 2 years. I feel pretty healthy. What bothers me is the whole organic thing.
On your site you really emphasize eating organic foods. I agree, but it's frustrating because where I live, organic food is hard to find and very expensive. There's a natural food store with bulk grains & beans & produce, but it's a 1/2 hr bus ride from where I live, and as I said, expensive.
I usually just pick up a few things at the supermarket on my way home. Mostly I eat supper at Taco Johns where I work and get a sandwich at the student union for lunch.
So far I've stuck to my vegetarian diet without too much problem, but I guess I'd just like to know if I'm really harming my health by not eating organic foods. - L. M.
Dear L. M.,
Let's put this in perspective. You are (I assume): Age 21 or so, going to school full time, working, no car, and you implied you have a social life. You sound intelligent and thoughtful. You manage to stick to a vegetarian diet under difficult conditions, and are in good health. At your age, I wasn't nearly as together!
There are always higher ideals to reach for, but we also have our everyday lives in the real world. Though I applaud you for being concerned about it, don't worry right now about eating organic foods vs non-organic. It's just as important not to strain, to feel relaxed and happy, as it is to eat just right.
The cost of organic food: In dollars & cents at the check-out, organic food is more expensive, partly because of supply & demand. Organic agriculture also isn't subsidized the same way as conventional agriculture.
Our tax dollars are going to support lower prices for food that is poisoning the environment and contributing to health problems. The real costs of conventional agriculture are much higher than organic; they're just hidden. In terms of long-term benefits to the environment, and our health, eating organic foods is a bargain.
Even though you may not be able to eat all organic, there are always choices. For example, maybe you could get a job at the natural food store, or move closer, or find another means of transportation. Could you pack a lunch sometimes?
How about sharing a house with other vegetarians, cooking or gardening together? Can you get together with others & share rides to a store that has better prices? Is there a local farmers market in your area?
Let loose your creativity!
Judith Kingsbury, Savvy Vegetarian