I am sure many people ask the question of whether organic is worth the extra money. I know that I struggled with it for a time. We have a food budget for each week. We are a family that uses the cash system, if there is no cash in the grocery envelope, there will be no groceries purchased (sounds tough but I have gotten used to it and we never have gone without food). I have to make the choice every week as to how much organic and how much conventional food we will eat. If you want to learn more about the budget system we use, Dave Ramsey has a lot of tools on his website that will inspire you to become debt free.
Here are some of the reasons my family has made the switch to choosing organic foods, and I hope this will give you some “food” for thought too!!!
#1 Limit Chemicals: Eating organically grown produce can limit the exposure to pesticide residues. Organic produce typically carries significantly fewer pesticide residues compared to conventional produce. According to the FDA, at least 53 pesticides classified as carcinogenic are applied to our major field crops (YUK). I don’t know about you, but I sure don’t want to bring all of those chemicals into my house! When I learned of all the chemicals on produce, I began looking for ways to remove as much of the chemicals as possible. Here is a DIY recipe: 1 Part white vinegar to 2 parts filtered water, put in a spray bottle and you have a great fruit and vegetable wash. If you like to use ready made, there are many to choose from too.
#2 Avoid Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO): Pesticide resistance is bred in to the seed and therefore allows for massive aerial spraying. GMO foods may trigger human immune responses and can be highly inflammatory. Arthritis has run in our family so I have decided to be proactive and avoid foods or products that can cause inflammation.
#3 Avoid Hormones, Antibiotics, and Drugs in Animal Products: Conventional meat and dairy are the highest risk foods for contamination by harmful substances. Approximately 70% of antibiotics produced in the US are fed to animals for non therapeutic purposes. Sex Hormones and growth hormones have been given to cattle to artificially increase the amount of meat and milk produced. The major concerns for US consumers include the early onset of puberty, growth of tumors, heightened cancer risks, and genetic problems. Growth hormones in milk are genetically modified and have been directly linked to cancer, especially in women. Over the past several years we have reduced the amount of dairy we consume. We still have cheese and sour cream in the house but we use about 60% less than we used to (A big reason is our daughter got married and moved into her own apartment. She was the big sour cream eater in the house)!
#4 Preserve Our Ecosystem: Organic farming practices are designed to encourage soil and water conservation and reduce pollution. I think we can all agree that this is important.
#5 Benefit from More Nutrients: On average, organically grown foods provide: 21.1% more iron, 27% more vitamin C, 29.3% more magnesium and 13.6% more phosphorus than their conventional counterparts.
Another great perk to eating more fresh organic food is that we have begun to reduce the number of supplements that we take each day. The money saved on supplements can then go towards organic food. I would rather eat my nourishment than swallow it!
One struggle I had when I was first looking into organic foods was knowing how to read the labels. I didn’t know what the FDA requirements were to have the word “organic” on a label. How do you know if you are purchasing organic food? Organic Certification requires that organic foods meet strict government standards. These standards regulate how such foods are grown, handled, and processed.
For foods that have more than one ingredient, there are different seals:
Remember, just because it says “natural” does not mean that it is organic!
If using organic is going to be a challenge for your grocery budget, the Environmental Working Group shares a couple of lists that might be of help. They are the “Dirty Dozen” and the “Clean 15”. The group provides a new list each year. Here is the website: Environmental Working Group
2016 Dirty Dozen
Opt for organic on these
Strawberries, Apples, Nectarines, Peaches, Celery, Grapes, Cherries, Spinach, Tomatoes, Sweet Bell Peppers, Cherry Tomatoes and Cucumbers
2016 Clean “15”
Avocado, Sweet Corn, Pineapple, Cabbage, Frozen Sweet Peas, Onion, Asparagus, Mango, Papayas, Kiwi, Eggplant, Honeydew Melon, Grapefruit, Cantaloupe, and Cauliflower
Other great options are to grow your own organic produce at home. Since I am battling the rabbits in our yard ALL the time, I have had to be creative in finding ways to keep my produce safe from these varmints! I have used bins, buckets and planters but one of the best solutions has been to use rain gutters on the fence. We purchased metal rain gutters, put a lot of drainage holes in them (yes, I actually felt weird putting holes in them), and filled them with organic dirt. I have been able to plant several varieties of lettuce, radishes, kohlrabi and green onions in the gutters. The rabbits thus far have not been able to climb the fence to reach my produce.
Summer is also a great time to visit your local farmers market. Many farms follow organic farming standards, even if they are not certified. The great thing about purchasing locally is that you are supporting your local community and getting fresh produce.
Since our family started our own journey to eating more fruits and vegetables and less processed food, we have found that keeping excess weight off and feeling better has been a great benefit. Remember that eating a diet rich in fresh vegetables and fruits every day (6-10 servings per day), is a great way to invest in your health, fuel your body and to continue to write your Chronicles in HEALTH. No matter the type of food you choose (organic or conventional) remember to be thankful and bless it.
I would love to hear your thoughts and struggles with adding organic food to your daily food plan.
Where have you found the best deals on purchasing organic foods? What are your biggest struggles with finding organic foods?
Loux, R. (2011, November 3). Top 10 reasons to go organic. Prevention. Retrieved from http://www.prevention.com/food/healthy-eating-tips/top-reasons-choose-organic-foods.
Mayo Clinic Staff. http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/organic-food/art-20043880.