My supermarket has caught organic fever. What used to be a little table in the produce department with a couple of apples and a few other items marked "organic" has now morphed into nearly half of that side of the store.
They have this area situated in such a way that the two different stacks of bananas are just two feet apart. The one stack marked organic (at a price of about $2 a pound) is within easy reach of the non-organic bananas, on sale this weekend for 67 cents a pound.
I stood there for a few minutes just to watch shopper after shopper pass the cheapies, opting for the two-buck bananas. Are these people trusting, or what? The bananas look identical. How do we know where they came from? Bananas are imported, so who sets the "organic" standards in, say, South America? I am suspicious.
Organic meats, poultry and fish have invaded the meat department. OK, so maybe I can warm up to this concept a bit if indeed it's true that many chickens and cows are fed antibiotics and enhancement drugs to encourage production of finer products. It does creep me out a bit to think of what we might be eating. But $6 a pound for hamburger? Wow!
And what's with the "organic" shampoo, soaps and cleaning products? That's where I draw the line. Reading an informative article in Money magazine, "Whole Foods: The Whole Truth," confirmed what I've been thinking: There are no recognized "organic" standards in the personal-care industry. Anyone can call dishwashing detergent "organic," spike the price by 300 percent and not have to prove a thing.
"Green" soaps and detergents may be less harmful to the environment (they say they have no phosphates), but they don't do any better job of cleaning. In fact, they can keep their green glass cleaner. I, for one, need that ammonia added to the Windex.
A year ago, I was hardnosed, stubbornly opposed to anything marked "organic." I've come around a wee bit, now agreeing that soft-skinned fruits like apples, peaches, apricots and plums do absorb through that skin what they're exposed to. Onions, avocados and corn are practically pesticide-free whether they are organically grown or not. Foodnews.org, the nonprofit Environmental Working Groups website, lists conventionally grown fruits and vegetables by pesticide content. And the meat issue does ring true with me. So, if I have any "organic" dollars to spend, that's where they're going.
As for organic shampoo, cookies, chips, cereal and window cleaner, forget it. I'll stick with my regular non-organic brands. And I'll bet you anything the contents of my products are virtually the same as the pricey organic models. With the outlandish difference in price, especially when I can get these products on sale, I am smiling all the way to the bank.