Are Organic foods really worth their, sometimes, high prices? Is there any way to make organic eating affordable?
Many times people's biggest resistance to buying organic is the higher price. But there are ways to make organic eating cheaper and much more affordable for you and your family.
What exactly is Organic Food?
Organic food is food grown or raised without the use of synthetic (chemically formulated) pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, or fertilizers. This method of farming allows foods to grown in nature as they were intended. Consider that conventional farmers in the United States spray 2 billion pounds of pesticides a year on crops to compensate for poor farming practices. Do you know where those pesticides end up? In our food supply!
Aside from pesticide contamination, conventional produce tends to have fewer nutrients than organic produce. On average, conventional produce has only 83 percent of the nutrients of organic produce. Studies have found significantly higher levels of nutrients such as vitamin C, iron, magnesium and phosphorus, and significantly less nitrates (a toxin) in organic crops.
When I first discovered that organic foods might be the missing link to my weight loss and health efforts (read my story here), I had just graduated from college and was living in a miniature apartment in New York City which was quite pricey, that I could barely afford.
How in the world was I going to spend the big bucks on organic food?
Here is how I mastered the art of "going organic on a budget":
- I stopped buying crappy "non foods" (and, yes, crappy is a scientific term). Most protein shakes, "health" bars, and processed foods are actually pretty expensive and when you completely eliminate them from your grocery list, you will save hundreds of dollars. Take a good look at the price of sugar cereals, packaged cookies and cakes, and frozen TV dinners. You will see how the prices of these foods quickly add up. That same amount of money can be better spent on a week's worth of organic produce.
- When I started eating reasonable portions, the food was not that expensive. When I really took a look at how much I was eating and how much I was supposed to be eating, I clearly had mistaken myself for a 200 lb sumo wrestler. I had portion distortion to say the least and eating less meant spending less!
- I sought out the local farmer's markets. The prices were so much better and I always got fresh food in season. And, honestly, if the price of cherries was the equivalent of diamond earrings, I would choose a different fruit. Go for the apples, pears, or bananas. Variety is good anyway so choose the fruits and veggies without the diamond prices.
- I transitioned my kitchen and my whole house slowly. I probably did not have a complete organic kitchen until 3 years later. Not the ideal, but I did the best I could. Rome wasn't built in a day and neither was my organic palace. Do the best you can, start with a few items and then go from there.
- Buy organic foods "selectively". The following foods have been shown to have the highest levels of pesticide residue, so they should really always be purchased organic:
- Red Raspberries
- Imported Grapes
- Bell Peppers
- Hot Peppers
*Always look for animal products (meats, poultry, and dairy) that have no added antibiotics and growth hormones. Ingesting meats that have been injected with these harmful substances is equivalent to eating the hormones and antibiotics themselves. Very dangerous!
These foods tend to be lower in pesticide levels so can be purchased conventional if necessary:
- Kiwi Fruit
- Brussels Sprouts
There's no material item that comes close to matching "feeling good" about yourself. Take a look at where you're spending your money now and figure out how to fit organic foods into your budget (even if it's a slow transition). I promise that if it was doable for me, it's doable for you too!
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