Eating organic while sticking to a budget can be a huge challenge. Here are my top tips on where to spend and where to save.
But first, since eating organic can be expensive, why is it worth making the effort?
Why You Should Eat Organic:
Eating organic food lowers your exposure to pesticides. Organic farmers are restricted by regulations to using natural pesticides and fertilizers, while conventional farmers use many chemical pesticides. The pesticide residue on produce cannot be “washed off” before consumption.
The use of genetic engineering, or genetically modified organisms (GMOs), antibiotics and growth hormones is prohibited in organic products.
Organic farming is good for the planet. It builds healthy soil, helps conserve water and keeps our water clean since it doesn’t contribute polluted (pesticides, toxic fertilizes, animal waste) runoff to the water supply. An organic agriculture system can actually reduce carbon dioxide output and help slow climate change.
Organic foods have a better nutrient content. Organic produce contains more antioxidants and has a higher content of some minerals than it’s conventionally grown counterpart. Animal products that are grass fed and pasture raised have more Omega 3- fatty acids (the “good fats”) and more CLA (conjugated linoleic acid).
Where to Spend and Where to Save:
Utilize the “Clean 15” and “Dirty Dozen” Lists. Each year the Environmental Working Group (EWG) publishes a list of the Clean 15 and Dirty Dozen as part of it’s Shoppers Guide to Pesticides in Produce. The Clean 15 is a list of the 15 fruits and vegetables that are least likely to be contaminated with pesticides, while the Dirty Dozen is a list of the 12 that are expected to have the most pesticide residue. Plan to buy organic on all produce that is included in the Dirty Dozen and consider saving your money and go conventional with the Clean 15.
The 2018 Clean 15: The Dirty Dozen:
1. Avocados 1. Strawberries
2. Sweet Corn 2. Spinach
3. Pineapples 3. Nectarines
4. Cabbages 4. Apples
5. Onions 5. Grapes
6. Sweet Peas, Frozen 6. Peaches
7. Papayas 7. Cherries
8. Asparagus 8. Pears
9. Mangoes 9. Tomatoes
10. Eggplants 10. Celery
11. Honeydews 11. Potatoes
12. Kiwis 12. Sweet Bell Peppers
For more info: https://www.ewg.org/foodnews/
If a food has a protective layer (ie most nuts, bananas, avocados, etc) then consider buying conventional. The part that you eat will be protected from much of the pesticide contamination.
Buy frozen organic fruits and vegetables; they normally cost less than they do when fresh.
Attend your local farmers market and buy direct from local farms.
Buy organic meat when it’s on sale and freeze it for later. It should last for 3-4 months in the freezer.
Organic foods are now available in about 3 out of every 4 conventional grocery stores in the US, making it easier than ever before to go organic!