Not too long ago organic foods were only sold in specialist health food stores and gourmet delis but our demand for healthy fresh food has seen free-range and organic products appear more regularly and are a lot more accessible.
But how much better for us are organic foods. Well that depends on what you want out of the product and where you hold your values.
Organic food is generally free of artificial fertilisers, synthetic herbicides and pesticides, growth regulators, antibiotics and hormone stimulants which suggests that they should be a lot healthier for us but some studies have found no major differences in the nutrition value than conventionally grown produce. There is definitely proof that organic foods have shown some improvement but not consistently enough to be a true fact.
The taste is also an issue. We are led to believe that the taste is a lot better, but again, it is not consistent enough. It's no different than getting a good tasting tomato from the supermarket this week and getting a bad one next week.
However, organic farming is better for the environment by building healthy soils and helping to prevent soil erosion. It also helps to prevent water contamination that runs into our rivers.
So basically it's up to you whether you want to spend the extra dollar but my family has been eating conventionally grown vegetables their whole life and some of my friends wouldn't even know what an organic tomato tasted like and they have shown no less health benefits for doing so.
But animals, on the other hand, I am a true believer that a free-range egg definitely has a much better flavour than the locked up variety. And a healthy chicken that runs around in a more natural environment surely must produce a healthier egg. I am happy to pay the extra dollar here.
So what's your decision? I think this trend is here to stay and if we all start to buy organic produce the price is sure to come down, but until there is further research and true validation is it really worth it?
Matt Clark Culinary Consultant, Personal Chef Service and Creative Cooking