People often ask about organic vs. non-organic.
Choosing organic foods has several benefits for both you and the environment. 1) You’re exposed to less chemicals (so are the farmers & neighbors of farmers). 2) Often you are getting more nutrition from organic varietals. 3) When you chose organic, it equates to less fossil fuel being converted into fertilizers. 4) And, healthier soil is more sustainable into the future.
While, we always prefer organic options, what happens if you can’t find an organic option? Or, what if the non-organic version is a LOT cheaper than the organic option? How do you chose? When is it worth it?
Here are some simple tips to help guide your shopping.
First rule of thumb: When looking to improve your diet or make changes, always start by looking at your daily habits. What foods/ingredients do you use on a daily basis? These are the ones you should make a priority for choosing the best ingredients.
Here’s the reasoning…When it comes to your long-term health, daily exposure to a range of chemicals is probably where the biggest problems develop. It is the daily, consistent, chronic actions & exposure that wear our bodies down — not so much the occasional missteps. Therefore,
make the things you eat on a daily basis the highest quality, organic ingredients whenever possible.
Beverages – If you drink coffee or tea every day, you should make sure you are choosing organic coffees & teas. (Yes, that’s what curbed our Starbucks habit at our house a few years back). Trader Joe’s offers several organic coffees, so do most health food/specialty stores. Coffee bean and tea crops are subject to a wide variety of chemicals. To minimize your exposure, make organic coffees & teas a top priority.
Cereal – Do you have a favorite cereal that you turn to for breakfast or as a meal replacement when you’re in a hurry or just too hungry? If so, you’ll want to make sure you’re getting the best quality cereal you can buy.
Same for yogurts, fruit & vegetables that you eat every day. …whatever those standard staples are at your house – make sure you make organic a priority for those things.
We would also rate meat, dairy and eggs high on the priority list for organics – especially if you eat these on a regular basis.
If the store doesn’t have an organic option for you, remember that the benefits of eating fruits & vegetables outweighs the risks of pesticide exposure. You can remove pesticide residue on the surface by removing outer leaves and washing the food in cold running water. So, take some extra time to clean your non-organic produce well.
Each year, the Environmental Working Group releases at “Dirty Dozen” list. (You can read the entire report here.) They suggest that you buy organic versions of the following (or from local farmers markets, or grow in your own garden) whenever possible:
The Dirty Dozen Plus:
- sweet bell peppers
- imported nectarines
- domestic blueberries
- green beans
- kale, collards, and leafy greens
At the same time, there are foods that are generally grown with less pesticides. The following items tend to have about five or less different types of pesticides. If you have to cut corners, here’s where to start.
The Clean 15:
- sweet corn
- sweet Peas
- domestic cantaloupe
- sweet potatoes