Breaking Into the Culture of Organics

City of decadence, in both food and lifestyle, I became a mother in New Orleans. Indulgences were earned every day, as though the river that snaked around the city demanded it.

The French Quarter was our home when we first moved to the city as a young couple, though eventually we moved Uptown to Magazine Street and then to a quiet street right off of Audubon Park and Zoo. That final move came in time for our first son’s birth, moving us off of the busy traffic of Magazine and into a nestled quiet of sidewalks and cozy parks. It also placed us within a stroller-ride of a Whole Foods Market.

New Orleans was my first coherent exposure to organic food. I won’t pretend that I didn’t associate “organics” with dreads and henna, up to and including that first bit of exposure. Honestly, I didn’t understand the concept of “whole foods” until I walked into my first Whole Foods proper and I had never tried to understand it.

You aren’t interested in the “why” behind that. It was early 2000 and… I don’t know what to tell you. It was a lifetime ago.

My understanding of organic food was very much wrong. At best it was uninformed and at worst it was a screaming cliché bordering on offensive. I wasn’t convinced that eating organic made much difference and absolutely felt it was a lot of hype. I probably pictured a hefty number of entitled faux-hippies who were, in fact, just spoiled rich kids looking for a cause and some poster paint.

Yeah, probably that.

Then I bought organic food. Then I ate organic food. Then I started caring about what I put into my body and where it came from in the first place because, harumph, it did make a difference.

Then I really started caring about what I put into my baby’s body. I could be reckless with myself, to some extent, but I had a responsibility to this child. He was trusting me to make the right decisions. I had to care.

So I bought organic food from the dude with dreads and the chick with henna. And they were right.

Confidence is the most valuable tool a new mother can wield. Feeding my baby organic food once he started solids gave me an un-shakeable confidence. It was one less thing for me to fret about. It was just done.

And I wasn’t alone and I wasn’t wearing henna (though I have on several occasions, so take the reference with a grain of sea salt). That organic grocer put a face on who bought organic food. I recognized those faces. They were my mailwoman, my boss, my neighbor (seriously, all of my neighbors), and my friends. And at nearly every recognition point, I still embarrassed myself with the thought, “Huh. I wouldn’t have thought you cared.”

For me, organic food was this mysterious concept with a barrier to entry seemingly insurmountable. It felt like a lot of rules surrounded “organics” and I would look like a square even trying to get with it. If “they” wanted people to buy organic, they would make it easier to find in a normal grocery store, right?

Organic food, as a culture and a lifestyle and a choice, is still a learning process for me, but not an insurmountable one. So tell me, have you ever perceived any barriers to entry regarding organics?

• • •

A big thanks to YoBaby for sponsoring this campaign.  Click here to see more of the discussion. Remind me to tell you next time about when I found YoBaby organic yogurt for my baby in my normal grocery store… and not in a big city… and not in that section with all of the matte packaging and almond butter.

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Article Posted 4 years Ago

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