Wiederhold: Organic food is worth the price

I would like to bring to your attention that Monday Oct. 24th is Food Day. So what is Food Day, actually? No, it's not a magical day when CAS gives out free food, nor a day when people all over the country hurl their lunches at each other in a massive coast-to-coast food fight – although I do have to admit that that would be pretty fun.

Food Day is, in essence, a day dedicated to sustainable, healthy and affordable food. It was created by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a nonprofit organization started in 1971 that has been leading the fight for food labeling, better nutrition and safer foods. There are a total of six goals of Food Day, which can be found on the website foodday.org; however, I'm just going to focus on the goal of sustainable farming.

I think we can all agree that no one really wants to be unhealthy, and no one really wants to live on an unhealthy planet, either. But in order for this better health to become a reality, it is absolutely imperative that the farm system moves away from the agribusiness model.

People seem to have the impression that organic farming can't possibly feed America, but on the contrary, a new 30-year study by the Rodale Institute has showed that organic farming yields can match or surpass those of conventional farming. The study has also found that organic farming is more profitable and creates more jobs. It also uses 45 percent less energy and creates 40 percent less greenhouse gas than conventional farming and, unlike conventional farming, it's actually building up the soil rather than depleting it.

But maybe you're thinking I've forgotten one very important thing here: Organic food is more expensive than its nonorganic counterparts. This may be true, but if you start viewing it as an investment in your health and the planet's health instead of as a money-drain, you might find it more worthwhile.

Another thing to consider is what people actually do spend their money on. I think the majority of people spend a ton of money on useless things that they can afford to live without. What if you saved all the money you would normally spend on new clothes, for example, and instead bought some organic food? Or what if that dollar you're going to spend on a bag of greasy, salty potato chips could get you a juicy, delicious locally-grown organic apple instead? Or what if, God forbid, all that money spent on your iPhone monthly plan was redirected toward organic produce? Maybe we'll find that we can afford to buy organic food if we just set our minds to it and rethink our fiscal priorities.

I've got a challenge for you: This Monday, try to eat something organic. Try to eat a little healthier than you normally do. Try being vegan, or at least vegetarian, for a day or two. Try eating something locally grown (take a schlep over to the community garden, if you're up for it). Try to transform the way you eat, for yourself as well as the planet.