Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Why it's worth buying organic bananas

It might seem strange on this blog to advocate spending more on an ingredient but frugal eating is not about buying the cheapest food you can find but eating as well as you can on a limited budget.

I spend over the odds for organic milk and eggs, real bread from a local bakery, Italian-manufactured pasta (as opposed to own brand) and some organic vegetables like carrots because there is such a marked difference in taste - and in the case of ingredients like bread they stretch further.

To that list I'm now going to add organic bananas.

I bought them by accident the other day thinking they were Fairtrade and couldn't believe how different they tasted. Even the green ones my husband insists on buying because he hates speckled bananas tasted sweet. Just really banana-y, as you'd expect.

I also recall that conventionally grown bananas are heavily sprayed then treated with more chemicals to ripen them - a practice reported on here in the New York Times and here in the Sunday Tribune, India

Organic bananas are not a ridiculous amount more expensive than standard ones: £1.85 a kilo in the Co-op compared to £1.15 which came to £1.35 for 5 bananas or 27p a banana. You couldn't buy a chocolate bar for that.

What foods do you think it's worth paying extra for? And - as a matter of interest - do you like your bananas green, yellow or speckled? ;-)


Virginia said...

It is interesting what people will and won't spend on. For example a bag of bronze die Italian pasta will set you back about £3.50 as opposed to 50p, but it will taste a world away from the 50p lot. Plus it's cheaper than a nasty burger or even a glass of wine. We often have a very muddled attitude to what is good value.

You can eat frugally if you eat seasonally, locally and avoid expensive cuts of meat or fish. If you go for the more unusual (and often cheaper) you usually end up with a lot of lovely culinary surprises. Pulses are great value too...and then if you do all this you can spice things up with a few choice ingredients that might be a penny or two more.

Valeria said...

I very much agree with Virginia, here. I live in a small town in Italy and between me and my boyfriend, we earn 1500 euro a month --as inters. We are able to afford a small place to live, and to eat very good food, which means some organic things like dairy and vegetables, and amazing seasonal local fruit and veggies from the local market. We surely give up some nights at the bar for eating better food, including good meat once a week, good raw milk artisan cheese and good local trouts twice a week, but we think it really makes a huge difference. Bananas in our house are always Fair Trade --and organic where possible. Rediscovering the pleasure of eating better food makes you wish to go less and less out for meals. Very few things taste better than home-made food, now. So yes, it's totally worth buying food that is better for your body, your mood and the environment.Is it just because I live in Bra (Slow Food town)? Maybe. We are very lucky, indeed. But it also a mindset, and you can choose to purchase bad food here, too, if you want.

karin@yumandmore said...

definitely bananas! the taste is really better and i don't have to cringe about putting them in a child's lunchbox thinking they might touch another food or the child could lick the skin or his/her fingers with all the pesticides.

Kavey said...

Aah, I've not thought to buy organic bananas before, but I'll do a taste test soon.

I like mine yellow but with not a single brown speckle, I want them firm inside rather than mushy.

If mushy, I'll bung in freezer until have enough for banana cake...

PS LOVE LOVE LOVE that my word verification for this comment is fruto! Heheh!

Sarah said...

I also buy organic eggs and milk (UHT) but non-organic fresh for my eldest son as it's actually pretty hard finding organic fresh milk.

I also buy organic sugar-free muesli as it's the only one that's sugar free.

I'll try out the organic bananas. I buy them yellow, not green (if I can) and if they haven't been eaten turn them into banana cake.

Fiona Beckett said...

You're absolutely right Virginia and Valeria. The great thing about ingredients like pasta and bread - and bananas come to that - is that so long as you've got a reasonable amount to live on you can afford to buy the very best - as opposed to meat or fish where the best cuts are priced out of most people's pockets. Life's little luxuries.

And glad the rest of you agree about bananas. For the record I like mine once they've turned yellow just before the black speckles appear. But the organic ones are definitely sweeter.

Verity said...

I buy fair trade bananas but never thought to buy organic. To be honest, cost is a big consideration. I used to buy organic carrots when I ate them raw, but now I mainly cook with them so I don't bother.

I like my bananas speckled!

Anonymous said...

Well, I bought organic bananas not quite a week ago and they're still having some green on them. They are ripening different. And they taste quite different. Kind of like grass.
I have to puree them for my baby tomorrow and we'll see how she likes them. I prefer the taste of conventional bananas and enjoy the way they ripen because I go through bananas quite fast between my daughter and I.
Also, I touch my banana when I eat it, pick off pieces because I cannot stand feeling like I am shoving something into my mouth. Now, if it is frozen I will eat it without it being broken up. But the bites are different and are a healthier alternative choice to ice cream.
I have also been reading articles that MOST people during a blind study preferred the conventional over the organic one when equally ripened.
Also, they are not on the list of pesticide infested foods, therefore, I will stick with my .49 pound.