Thanks to trends and money-hungry corporations, it is getting easier and easier to buy organic products in the grocery store. But is it necessary? Is it worth it? I hope that by this time we have all realized that the least processed and the fewer additives the better. Hopefully we have realized that generally, organic is better. Unfortunately, in most areas consumers still have to pay considerably more for the healthier option.
I have come up with some tips and bits of information that will hopefully help you “go organic” in an affordable way. Some items are more important to buy organic than others. In my opinion a chip is a chip and a cookie is a cookie–organic or not. Animal products/by-products and things that grow from soil (grains, fresh fruits and vegetables) are probably more an issue.
My family does not eat an entirely organic diet, but I have made significant changes. When considering organic produce think about the skin–if the skin is thin, then you want organic. If it grows under ground, you also want organic. Berries, peaches, nectarines, pretty much all vegetables–potatoes, broccoli, lettuce, apples etc..
I first considered the things that we consume a lot of–fresh fruits and veggies. Making one change at a time is easier to implement than changing your entire diet.
We eat a lot of apples so I simply started buying a bag of organic apples. The apples are smaller (more like an actual serving). Since the non-organic apples are so huge I would end up spending about 3 bucks for only four, but now we spend the same amount for a bag of about 12 apples.
I also swapped out items. I stopped buying cold cereal on a regular basis. Cold cereal has nutrients added to it and they are not naturally occurring in the cereal. I figured it would be healthier if we just ate the real food with the actual nutrient. Plus we take vitamins anyway. So whatever money I would have spent on cereal, I now spend on fresh fruits and veggies (regardless of if they are organic or not).
We also eat lots of bananas, but bananas have thick skin so it is less important that they are certified organic. However, at 79 cents a pound, organic bananas are still a cheap item of produce. So, we don’t buy organic bananas.
Just recently I started buying organic potatoes, because they have gone on sale a few times and have been the same price as the others. Even if they weren’t on list of items to eat organic, I would say eat an organic potato. They are absolutely delicious! Since we love potatoes in our house, the taste difference alone is worth it.
Many places have comparable prices for organic vs. regular produce. Spend more time in the produce section and price compare. Stores are also offering sales on organic produce–so look out for sales. Sometimes it’s cheaper to eat the organic produce. My love affair with produce started with a challenge to myself to try a new item each week. With the easy access of the Internet, it is simple to find a recipe using the item of produce.
Sometimes we buy organic meat, but only chicken and only when it’s on sale. The organic ground beef our store sells has a funny texture. Organic butter tastes sweeter, but cannot be left out in a butter dish or it will mold. It also is not worth paying more than twice the price. We also have pretty much omitted cows milk from our diet, and have increased our cheese and yogurt consumption to make up for not drinking milk. I only buy organic milk if it’s on sale and I know we will have guests who prefer to drink milk.
Many organic things do have a richer, deeper flavor and a hint of sweetness. But if your taste buds are not sensitive to that kind of thing, maybe you won’t notice. I have found that oranges, bananas, broccoli, potatoes and butter all have a better flavor if they are organic (but oranges also have thicker skin, so a little less effected by pesticides) . Apples taste the same–and with some varieties–worse.
Another way to get started is to sign up for Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). I’m sure someone you know would be willing to split the cost with you. CSA is where you pay to own a “share” of a local farm. CSA is organically and locally grown produce that you pick up or have delivered to your home for a specified length of time. It is worth every dime. You can also volunteer to work on the farm–which is very educational for children and parents.
I love this topic–produce–so if you have any questions let me know.