25 Years Buying Organic – One Person’s Experience and Observations
by Deborah Tosline
In 1990, I began buying organic food for my household 100 percent of the time. I had transitioned to a healthy, whole foods lifestyle in my 20s, but had not yet committed to buying organic. In those days, if you ate whole foods you stood out; other whole food eaters would find you. When I worked in Oahu, Hawaii, Japanese markets sold huge varieties of vegetables. One day after shopping, I returned to the office with a large bag of greens. My coworker Coerte stopped by my office and saw my purchase. He asked if my veggies were organic, and I said no. Coerte asked why I wouldn’t buy organic for my young daughter and myself, and I had no answer. He and his wife had moved to Hawaii so that his wife could detox after becoming sick from pesticide exposure.
Coerte’s food shaming had an impact. I had already chosen to live my life in a manner that minimized my impact on the environment. I was one step away from buying organic for health and to vote with my dollar for environmentally sustainable practices. That day, I made the decision to buy all organic food for my home. I continued to remain flexible about eating at restaurants and in other peoples’ homes. However, I traveled with my whole organic food whenever possible.
After deciding to buy organic, I developed a black-and-white attitude. I couldn’t bear to assess every item that I bought, every time I shopped, organic or non-organic? I chose to buy 100 percent organic and stopped looking at food prices. I hoped that with time, new farming practices would be developed that would be safer for the planet, animals, and others.
I had begun shopping at health food stores as a teenager, and this continued until I shopped exclusively at independent health stores starting in my late 20s.
Before the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) began certifying organic foods, certifications were completed by some states and by private entities. In 2000, the National Organic Program final rule was published in the Federal Register, and the USDA began certifying.
The Environmental Working Group, using information made available by the federal government, published the “dirty dozen,” which consisted of fruits and vegetables that contained the highest concentrations of synthetic chemicals. Because grapes and strawberries were on that list and organic options were not available early on, I did not eat them for about a decade.
Twenty-five years ago, organic food options were expensive, so I chose to buy fewer material goods so that I could afford what was and continues to be the most expensive food available. The high cost of buying organic has never declined, despite its growing popularity. However, the variety of organic fruits, vegetables and dry goods has increased dramatically.
As an adult, I have not eaten the Standard American Diet (SAD), and people have shared their opinions about my food choices, including my purchase of only organic food. They said that I was wasting my money, that the food probably had chemicals on it, and that they saw no need to buy organic. I was a weird outsider. I never cared what others ate – live and let live. Through the early years, I withstood ridicule and discrimination.
After 35 years eating whole foods and 25 years eating organic, I still don’t fit into SAD social eating. Even with recent improvements, SAD is so, so, very bad that one must go to extremes to truly eat healthy. I see that folks are eating healthier, but in my opinion SAD is still very bad. Niche groups who eat 100 percent whole and organic food continue to be rare.
Buying organic for 25 years has been a huge commitment. My gut instinct told me that buying and eating organic was the right thing to do. I held strongly to my lifestyle beliefs, even when my decisions were swayed in other aspects of my life. It was and is vital that I remain strong and able to care for myself and for my daughter. I developed a strong conviction and did, and continue to do, everything in my power to stay healthy and strong.
When I began healthy and organic eating, I didn’t know if I had made the right choice. My gut instinct told me it was right, but society told me it was unnecessary and strange. After all these years, I know that I made excellent decisions for myself; contemporary news and trends confirm my instincts.
At 56, I have no regrets. I am grateful for my perseverance and discipline. Today, I believe in myself more than ever.
Deborah Tosline’s education and work experience is in science, where hypotheses are tested through observation and experiments. She has two bachelor of science degrees: one in geology and one in ecology. Her approach to skin care is based on that scientific background and a love of research. Deborah has studied and practiced DIY skin care for three decades, including a consistent facial exercise practice from 2002, and five years of teaching facial exercise. She has integrated skin rejuvenation into a lifelong healthy lifestyle. Her book, Skin Remodeling DIY, is available in print from Amazon. Buy the eBook on Kindle, Nook, and iBook.