NEW BERN, CRAVEN COUNTY -

The organic food business has seen double digit growth in the last decade, according to the USDA. Sales went from one billion dollars in 1990 to almost $27 billion in 2010.  Those we talked to for this series tell us they moved to organic food because of their concerns over the additives and chemicals found in much of our food these days.

Take some kale and spinach, toss in apples, bananas, chia seeds and blueberries - then hit blend.  For Bridget and her family in New Bern, what you have is a nutrient-packed, organic breakfast.  "Since the birth of my daughter, she's 14 months, that's really what made me think this is the time to switch everything to do as much as we can," says Bridget.

What they've done is move to fresh and organic foods and cut out the processed ones.  "If I couldn't pronounce it {an ingredient}, or if I couldn't go to the grocery store and buy it, I wouldn't buy a food item with whatever that ingredient was in there."
     
People like Bridget are why organic farming is growing, like Scott Farm Organics in Jones County.  What's different about growing organic produce?  Farmer Trent Scott says, "no pesticides, herbicides, insecticides, none of that."
     
As a fourth generation farmer, Scott saw opportunity in organic as his family left tobacco farming.  He'll sell his organic produce at the New Bern Farmer's Market and through his CSA, or Community Supported Agriculture.  It's where customers buy into a share of the farm in a way, and in turn, get produce and products delivered to them.  "We turn-key package - grow, package, deliver the product directly to you, at your convenience," says Scott.

To find out more about Scott Farm Organics, CLICK HERE.

The organic selections in grocery stores, like the Food Lion in Bridgeton, are growing, but organic prices are still higher.  In today's tougher economic times, one of the questions you hear about eating organically, is it affordable?  Here's a look at how some products compare in price.  

We compared products at different grocery stores.
     
Apples - $1.99 a pound non-organic -- $2.69 organic
Peanut butter - $3.29 non-organic -- $4.99 organic
Macaroni and cheese - $1.15 non-organic -- $2.19 organic
Milk - $3.99 a gallon non-organic -- $5.99 organic
Eggs - $1.99 non-organic -- $3.99 organic

We must note the USDA makes no claims organic food is safer or more nutritious than conventionally produced food, and states the biggest importance is eating balanced, healthy meals.
    
Registered dietician Colleen Bucher with Vidant Health Systems agrees.  "It's even more expensive to be unhealthy. (and why is that?)  Medications cost a lot, work time lost if you're not healthy."

If you can't find all the organic selections you want on the shelves of your grocery store, in New Bern, there's always the New Bern Natural Foods Co-op.  Their members can choose from "organic, typically natural products, many products are on the market but not available locally," says James Olson.
    
This co-op gives you better selection and better prices.  Customers go online, place an order and then all the orders are placed together in one bulk order for money savings.  The cost to be a member - $5 a year to cover supplies.

"I think it's working great.  I'm going to be 50 this year and I don't think I can remember feeling better," exclaims Olson.

To find out more about the New Bern Natural Foods Co-op, CLICK HERE.

One thing to think of when it comes to your produce is the dirty dozen.  It's a list of the top 12 fruits and veggies that are known to have the highest pesticide residues.  Our nutritionist tells us if you are limited to what you can buy organic, these are the ones you should try to buy.

12 Most Contaminated

- Peaches
- Apples
- Sweet Bell Peppers
- Celery
- Nectarines
- Strawberries
- Cherries
- Pears
- Grapes (Imported)
- Spinach
- Lettuce
- Potatoes

12 Least Contaminated

- Onions
- Avocado
- Sweet Corn (Frozen)
- Pineapples
- Mango
- Asparagus
- Sweet Peas (Frozen)
- Kiwi Fruit
- Bananas
- Cabbage
- Broccoli
- Papaya