Shopping Organic: Save or Splurge?
The questions of whether or not to invest in organic foods are plenty. Do I need to buy organic? What do I need to buy organic? Why do I need to buy organic? And what the heck is organic? I totally get it, it’s confusing. The word “organic” has taken off like a nutrition fad and turned into a bit of a buzz word, but when you understand it’s implications, you’ll see how that is not the case.
According to Organics Council of Ontario, “organic agriculture is a holistic approach to production which promotes and enhances biodiversity, protects long-term soil health and respects ecological balance through the use of environmentally and ecologically sustainable practices.” Organic production does not permit the use of synthetic pesticides or synthetic fertilizers, genetically modified organisms, or growth hormones for animals that produce meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products. Overall, organic farming reducing the amount of toxins on organic food and in the environment.
So how does this impact us? In conventional farming, farmers use a various of different pesticides, chemicals, sprays on crops to ensure that produce is grown faster, larger and uniform, but that does not mean it is better for us. The pesticides they use are chemical toxins that our body is not well-equipped to manage. Our detoxification systems were not built to detox man-made chemical toxins on a daily basis, especially in excess. So shopping organic simply means buying the most natural option. It means no use of chemical pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, and fertilizers in the growing of crops or animals’ feed. It means cleaner food in its natural states, and that’s the ultimate goal.
However, when you are on a budget it can be tough to buy everything organic, so there are some simple tips that can help you eat clean while keeping some money in the bank. Below is my list of where to save and where to splurge.
FRUITS & VEGETABLES = Save & Splurge
Every year the Environmental Working Group publishes a new list of the Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen. These lists are created to identify the 12 dirtiest forms of produces (so, opt to buy organic), and the 15 cleanest (no need to always buy organic). These lists are great tools to help you manage your budget, and choose organic only when the bank account allows.
GRAINS = Save
Although it would be ideal to buy all of our food organic, sometimes that it not always an option. When it comes to grains you can skimp a little and opt for inorganic if needed. Because there is far less residue on items like rice, quinoa, oats, etc… buying conventional is still a good option.
BEANS & LENTILS = Save.
Much like grains you don’t need to buy organic beans. Canned beans and lentils are a good option, but you’ll save a whole lot more by buying dried. They are easy to buy in bulk and store in the pantry without concern of them expiring. If you need to buy canned versions, opt for low-sodium or sodium-free as much as possible.
NUTS & SEEDS = Save
Just like beans and lentils, these guys can be a cheap and cheerful option. If you are able to buy in bulk, buying organic is easier as you will save based on the quantity you are purchasing. Always opt for raw over roasted and salted, but you can skip organic to save a bit of money.
MEAT = Splurge
If you are worried about what you eat, you should most definitely be concerned with that you eat eats too. Buying organic meat means that animals have not been fed anything grown with toxic or synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides or fumigants; have not been given any kind of growth hormone, antibiotic or genetically engineered product; have been conceived by organically raised animals; and have been butchered and processed following organic regulations. The very best option would be to find a local farmer or butcher, and purchase your meat directly from the source. However, if that is not an option just yet, opt for organic versions at your grocery store.