People often lament to me the high cost of organic fruits and vegetables. I definitely feel their pain. I know my grocery bill has significantly increased since I began focusing on buying organic. However, I do feel buying organic is important to decrease our exposure to harmful toxins for ourselves, the environment and the farmers growing our food. But what if it is just not financially feasible for you to buy everything organic? Are there some specific areas you should focus on?
When working with clients, I ask them to think about a few different areas when deciding to buy organic. For products that you or your children consume on a daily basis, buying organic, if at all possible, is definitely advisable. When my boys were little, they consumed volumes of milk on a daily basis so this was an product I tried to always buy organic (or at least hormone free). Think carefully about your overall diet and switch those items that make a daily appearance to organic.
Also, items that are higher up on the food chain like meat are important to buy organic. Livestock that is fed a conventional diet of corn and other grains have greater exposure to the toxic pesticides used on their food. These pesticides are then concentrated in fat of the meat you eat. Also, animals allowed to graze on their normal diet of grass have greater amounts of the natural healing omega-3s. I recognize organic meat can be expensive so I have started making meat more of an accent in my meals instead of the main ingredient. This approach saves me money and increases my consumption of healthy fruits and vegetables.
Finally, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) puts out a list of the Dirty Dozen and the Clean Fifteen every year. The Dirty Dozen lists the fruits and vegetable which contained a number of different pesticide residues and showed high concentrations of pesticides relative to other produce items. Relatively few pesticides were detected on the fruits and vegetables on the Clean Fifteen list, and tests found low total concentrations of pesticides. If you are rationing your grocery store dollars, focusing on buying the fruits and vegetables from the Dirty Dozen list may be your best bet. Checkout the info graphic at the beginning of the article for your complete list. (You might notice that my list is only a Clean Fourteen. The EWG’s list contained sweet corn. In the last year, GMO corn has begun appearing on our grocery shelves. I would advise buying organic corn to ensure you are avoiding a GMO product.)