Finally, the workweek is over! It's Friday night and you're out with a group of gal pals. After a few cocktails you're ready to eat. As you look over the menu you think, "Not many (fill in the blank) vegetarian/vegan/organic options." So you ask the waiter for an easy menu modification and, out of the corner of your eye, you see it – the oh-brother-here-we-go eye roll between a few others at the table – and you wait for the barrage of questions and snarky comments.
Whether you're vegan, vegetarian or choose to eat organic, people often have something to say about it, and it's not always a pleasant conversation. People have a hard time embracing something they don't understand, and that can often lead to heated debate. When someone questions your choice to eat organic, have your reasons and responses ready before you enter into your conversation.
Five Misconceptions People May Have About Organic Food
- It's expensive – It's true that organic food can be more expensive, but the health benefits may outweigh the grocery store prices. Create and stick to a shopping budget. Comparison shop, look for coupons, buy fresh and cook more instead of buying expensive prepared organic foods.
- It's trendy - You'll always find foods and products claiming specific benefits. Often there are no standards to support the benefits. Organic foods must abide by a set of standards put in place by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, including meeting demanding certification processes by ranchers, growers, producers and retailers.
- It's too "granola" – Organic food options run the gamut from cereals to milk to frozen dinners to produce. Organic "junk food" even exists - there is something for everyone!
- It doesn't taste good – Back in the day, you may have experienced processed foods like crackers or pretzels that were less-than-tasty. But that's changed, thankfully. And when it comes to fresh foods like produce, do your own taste-test and compare organic to non-organic to see if you can tell the difference, and in whose favor.
- It's impossible to eat only organic food – Not everyone can eat all organic, all the time. Again, be selective with your choices and think about the general rules of eating in moderation. Read this New York Times blog post on how to easily incorporate five organic foods into your diet that make a big impact.
Defensive Does Not Become You
Ever feel like the odd one out over a decision you've committed to that others don't agree with ("So what if I can't sing! American Idol tryouts are in town and I'm so there!")? Of course you have! But let's face it – getting defensive about it only makes matters worse.
When you respond to others about your eating choices, mind your manners. Be the "bigger person" and set an example by responding politely and with an even keel. More than likely your inquisitor won't expect your mild-mannered reaction and may even respond more positively. Consider the following responses (particularly when you don't want to get into it with someone) for why you eat organic (no condescension allowed).
Four Ways to Respond When Someone Questions Your Eating Choices
"I've decided to eat organic for health reasons and because it makes me feel better."
"I recognize that it's a personal choice and not everyone has to eat the way I eat. But I'm always respectful of others' opinions and hope that you can be respectful of mine, too."
"I appreciate your curiosity. I have a great book/website/documentary I can point you to if you'd like to learn more about healthy eating."
"If you have some time later, I'd love to chat more with you about some of the myths people have about eating organic." (Be prepared: Have some easy-to-understand facts to rattle off.)
Only you can decide what food choices make you happy and healthy. When you're dining with others and the topic turns to your eating choices, they'll generally follow your lead – if you don't make a fuss, they probably won't either.
image: little blue hen