Today’s title was inspired by Jeff Foxworthy‘s famous “you might be a redneck” standup comedy routine. I was thinking about the food we eat and the lifestyles we live. Organic foods are a big deal these days, with over $26 billion in annual sales in the U.S. alone. Attention has been given to which foods provide more or less “organicness,” that is which foods absorb and pass on the most pesticides and which foods where the added cost of organic agriculture is unnecessary. But little attention has been given to who needs to bother with eating organic foods at all.
There are some people whose lifestyle makes eating organic foods a largely moot point. I would include myself in that group. In fact, I’d go even further to say that for some people, insisting on organic produce borders on hypocrisy. So here is my list of, you might be wasting your money on organics if…
You work on a farm
I worked for four years in agriculture and floriculture. On the farm, we grew Monsanto‘s Round-up Ready soy beans. Those beans are probably the most infamous crop in America right now with the current debate on Genetically Modified Foods (GMO). The discussion on GMO is the topic for another day. But, like it or not, I grew those beans and we sprayed those fields with commercial-grade Round-up. I didn’t do the spraying myself, but I worked there and was doubtless exposed to it in the fields and also in the greenhouses.
Fast forward to when I moved to Colorado. I worked at the largest wholesale greenhouse in Northern Colorado. Throughout the spring, pesticides were being sprayed somewhere on the property on a daily basis. There were certain safety measures maintained to ensure minimum contact, but the reality was that my coworkers and I were basically bathing in the stuff.
In jobs such as these, eating organic foods is basically just spending money on nothing, because you are receiving a higher exposure at work than you are from your food. Bring your organic lunch in to work? It’s not organic any more!
You live in an unhealthy environment
I grew up in a town with three Superfund sites. Our lake was so polluted that it was unsafe to swim in. I lived a quarter-mile from that lake. What are the chances that the wells dug for drinking water weren’t the same groundwater as the lake? Not very good! Meanwhile, a nearby city had the highest cancer rate in the state. Whether true or not, most people blamed the water. I wouldn’t be surprised. That water tasted horrible.
If you live in an area like this, or other toxic pollution, buying organic produce doesn’t mean much, because you are inhaling, drinking, bathing, etc. plenty of stuff that isn’t exactly conducive to healthy living!
You have a dangerous job
I work as a flagger. It is classified as the 4th most dangerous job in America. I know mining and Arctic fishing are above it, but I’m not sure about the third. An average of 18 flaggers are killed on the job each year. My company had two fatalities last year. I remember a coworker who smoked quipping that she hoped to live long enough to die of lung cancer.
Even if bad drivers don’t get me, my job basically entails me standing in car exhaust for roughly 10 hours per day. If your job stands a good chance of killing you, either fast like a workplace accident, or slow, like environmental exposure, choosing organic foods over conventional agriculture is just wasting money.
Okay, this one is going to be a bit controversial. But frankly, it should be the least controversial out of all of these. If you are worried about your health and putting chemicals into your body, then you shouldn’t be smoking. If you smoke and eat organic, you are basically a hypocrite. If not to others, then you are to yourself. The health risks and costs associated with smoking are well understood and not disputed at all. Smoking makes a significant impact on the cost of life insurance. Why? Because smoking kills!
My grandmother died of lung-cancer at the age of 51; the only known case of cancer on that side of my family. There is little doubt to any of us that her 3 pack per day habit did her in. Remember that coworker I mentioned before? She knows that smoking will get her if her job doesn’t.
If you are a smoker, well, you should quit. But if you don’t quit, stop wasting your money on organic foods. Those cigarettes aren’t organic and you will need to save your money to buy them!
Do you think there are certain lifestyles that render organic foods a wasted expense? Are there any other categories you would add?