This pisses me off....maybe i am oblivious but i had no idea...
Back yard veggies > Local and fresh organic > Local and fresh > Organic > Conventional? meh wash it and eat it. In that sense get what you can afford and weigh the pros/cons. I like supporting my local farmers market and growing my own before considering any stores....even whole foods and so forth. Take that route and I think you will save a buck and feel better about where you get your food and who your supporting with your hard earned cash.
I feel pretty sure that the "organic" label is, or is heading towards, a rubber stamp that companies can get that allow them to sell almost identical products for a lot more money.
You would love to think that produce marked "organic" is free of pesticides, and "organic" chicken is free-range and fed a completely natural diet, etc. But when you dig into the details, it is't so.
It is kind of like buying 89 or 91 octane gas... it's more expensive, but how do you really know it's any different?
I actually have the same problem with locally grown and raised meat and produce. These small farmers don't claim to be "organic" and don't pay or do what it takes to be organic (or "what you think organic should be"). So they aren't necessarily any better than your typical supermarket.
I still buy organic meat and produce, and try to buy both from local or close-to-local sources that I think are reputable, but would love it if there was a better certification / classification system...
Hard to find perfection in this life....;)
I found this article (see link below) on Denise Minger's site a few months ago and have shared it with many people. As far as I am concerned, it is not an indictment of organic, but a reality check.
I DO believe that organic foods grown in small operations can be of superior nutritional value due to how soil/growing is managed. But in huge conventional operations that are simply growing organic to "get with the saleable program" I agree with other experts who say don't delude yourself about increased nutritional value.
I like that Minger addresses what is likely the most important issue as far as nutritional value and that is length of transport time and store shelf time and time spent in your refrigerator prior to ingestion. These are factors that we can act on. When we buy from farmer's markets we can be assured, IMO, of a higher quality nutritional value due to this time factor alone.
Of course the best is when we can grow at least some of our own. I grow lots of bell peppers (one of the veggies that is likely to be the most sprayed with conventional pesticides) and tomatoes and other veggies as well for our home consumption.
Also, see that Minger has included a good veg/fruit washing solution recipe and process toward the end of the article.