Pro: You can digest extra cost when you realize health benefits

ALLISON MILES

Sept. 6, 2009 at 4:06 a.m.

Organic food cost more, but a person's health is worth it, according to the owner of a Victoria health food store.

The chemicals, pesticides and preservatives other foods contain make people sick, said Lizbeth Zafra Esparza, who owns Ancient Remedies and also works at the Health Food House.

"If you eat a burger, it's $1 or $2, but you ate whatever the animal was fed with," she said. "It messes with your immune system."

Eating organic might be difficult in a culture where fast food is so prevalent, but Esparza said any time she strays from an organic diet her body lets her know something is wrong.

Eating organic is probably healthier, even if it isn't as much fun, Ruth Ann Squires said with a chuckle at the Victoria Mall's food court.

The Victoria resident doesn't eat organic, but said she also hasn't studied up on it.

"I probably would if I had someone to prepare it for me that knew what they were doing," she said. "It just seems healthier."

It goes beyond physical health, however. Organic farming is healthier for the environment, said Mark Chapin, Region 2 director for the Texas Organic Farmers & Gardeners Association.

Studies going back 60 years show chemical farming methods deplete mineral content in soil, said Chapin, who is not a certified organic farmer, but follows the principles.

"I'd propose right now the way the chemical agriculture system is, we're mining the soil," he said. "The organic system is endeavoring to put things back."

As far as prices go, Chapin said he expects prices for organic and conventionally grown foods to align in the future. It won't likely be because organic costs go down, however. He expects other food prices to rise.

Organic foods are good for the body and environment, but often don't get the credit they deserve because less university-level research - the type of research people pay most attention to - has been done on the crops, Chapin said.

"Overall, I think it's the farming system that's gotten more knocks than research," he said. "But if you ask me if I think it's worth it, my answer is yes."

Related: Con: You don't really know what's in food, so why spend more?


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