in doubt, go for the organic
health and taste, you can say goodbye to pesticides, antibiotics and cow
John “jaQ” Andrews
With concerns building
about chemicals, growth hormones and genetically modified plants and
animals, the interest in organic foods has been growing. Organic
produce, meats and even packaged meals have been showing up in
supermarkets, and whole natural food sections have been carved out there
The U.S. organic market
grew at a 21.2 percent compound annual rate between 1997 and 2002,
according to a Datamonitor report cited on the website of the Organic
Trade Association. The same report projects a similar growth rate
through 2007, when the market is expected to reach a value of $30.7
By eschewing the use of
chemicals, organic foods tap into the desire for natural products that
come from the earth rather than from a laboratory. Less artificial stuff
is introduced into both the body and the environment at large: if no
chemicals are sprayed on a crop, no chemicals can leach into ground
water or be absorbed by animals in the food chain.
Lisa Allen, owns The
Daily Count, 49 E. Pearl St., Nashua. Her store carries organic as well
as vegan and health foods tailored for people with various medical
issues and allergies. “I think there’s a great future for organic food,”
she said. “I think that is the trend. In 10 to 15 years, it’s going to
be much more the norm.”
An organic coffee
machine sits on her front counter, ready for anyone who just needs a
Abby Bower and Alice
Saunders staff the Kearsarge Gore Farm stand at the weekly farmers’
market on Concord Street in Manchester. The Warner farm is run by
Bower’s parents and cultivates a variety of organic vegetables. Animals
are also raised there.
Bower has been eating
organic food all her life. “I don’t think about it really,” she said.
Living on an organic farm gave her few chances to eat anything else.
Saunders, on the other
hand, has to make the effort. This Boston student is a vegan and buys
organic, locally produced food whenever possible. She shops at co-ops
and Whole Foods (a natural foods supermarket with no locations in New
Hampshire) when she’s at school.
Why? “Definitely health
reasons,” she said, though environmental concerns are also on her mind.
By not buying conventional foods, “you aren’t putting gross chemicals in
It’s important to note
that organic does not necessarily equal healthy. Sugar and cocoa, after
all, can be grown perfectly organically, but a chocolate chip cookie is
a chocolate chip cookie no matter how few man-made chemicals helped it
Making the switch
Switching to organic
foods can be daunting at first. Farmers’ markets, specialized stores and
sections in supermarkets have made it easier to find organic products,
but their prices can still be a barrier to anyone bargain shopping.
One category of food
with little organic premium is breakfast cereals. A box of brand-name
cereal can run upwards of three or four dollars; if you’re lucky, you
can find a generic equivalent for two. Organic cereals start at about
$2.50, though the norm is between three and five dollars.
Meegan Guarino, the
produce manager at A Market, 125 Loring St., Manchester, thinks
comparing costs of organic and conventional foods is the wrong way to
“If we were to look at
it, it’s a heck of a lot cheaper this way,” she said, indicating the
organic fruits and vegetables arrayed just inside the entrance of A
Market. She contends that environmental and health costs of conventional
foods far outweigh the hit your wallet might take by purchasing organic.
“The thing with the
word ‘conventional’ is we think of that as the status quo,” Guarino went
on. In fact, widespread pesticide use did not begin until the early
twentieth century. “Every chemical [in the human body] wants to get out,
and that takes energy.” When eating food treated with chemicals, she
said, “your body’s like, ‘What are you doing?’”
If it all still seems a
little daunting, you can go out and have a complete organic meal
prepared for you at Devin’s Cafe in Salzburg Square, 292 Route 101 in
Amherst, N.H. They use organic meats and vegetables and no processed
For lunch, you can
start with a simple sandwich, but they also serve brunch and dinner.
Whole grain waffles and pancakes, raspberry ricotta French toast and
crabmeat fritattas can begin your day; Italian seasoned rib eye steak
salad or parmesan-crusted chicken breasts with basil tomatoes over penne
pasta can end it.
Choosing your own
organic ingredients still does have its own appeal, like taking control
of one’s ingredients and learning more about their origin. Alice
Saunders sees a lot of educated buyers at the Kearsarge Gore Farm stand.
Rather than being confused about the benefits and drawbacks of organic
foods, most of her customers know what they want.
“I think currently
people are getting into it, understanding it.”
Shaw’s and Hannaford
both have natural food sections, which include organic options. Farmers’
markets, such as the Manchester Farmers’ Market each Thursday afternoon
on Concord Street, may or may not include vendors selling organic
products. There are stores that focus more on natural and organic foods,
so you don’t have to confine yourself to one or two aisles.
A Market 125 Loring
St., Manchester, 668-2650
Bonne Sante Natural
Foods 425 Mast Rd., Manchester, 623-1613
Daily Count 49 E. Pearl
St., Nashua, 578-0752
Earth Energies Natural
Foods 295 Daniel Webster Hwy., Nashua, 888-2900
Earthward, 42 State
Route 101A, Amherst, 673-4322
Nutrition USA 93 S.
Maple St., Manchester, 634-4199
What’s in a name?
Just what does it mean
when a food is labeled “organic”? Effective Oct. 21, 2002, the USDA
attempted to make it simpler for consumers to understand what they were
“Organic meat, poultry,
eggs, and dairy products come from animals that are given no antibiotics
or growth hormones,” the USDA’s website states. “Organic food is
produced without using most conventional pesticides; fertilizers made
with synthetic ingredients or sewage sludge; bioengineering; or ionizing
radiation.” Farms are inspected by government-approved certifiers to
ensure that organic standards are being met.
Foods with the USDA
Organic seal (pictured) have been certified as containing at least 95
percent organic ingredients. Foods with between 70% and 95% organic
ingredients may use the word “organic” prominently on the front of their
packaging, but may not use the USDA seal. Products with individual
organic ingredients may indicate as such, but not on the front of the
Foods claiming to be
organic must also state which Certifying Agent has certified their
Retail stores and
restaurants do not need to be certified. Nor do farms and other
producers that sell less than $5,000 a year in organic agricultural
products. Though they may not use the USDA seal, they may label their
Other terms, such as
“natural,” carry no such legal backing to ensure their accuracy.