Contemplating the Value of Buying Organic Food

Whole Foods Produce Deals in Encinitas“I know eating organic is better, and what I would ideally do. But it’s a lot more expensive.  Is it really that much better?  Is it worth the extra expense?” ~ from SDBM’s Why Eating Organic is a Better Bargain! post by Erika McDaniel, nutritionist and founder of ConsciousParents.org

The push for organic food can seem quite trendy and over-marketed to some, but reality is that many consumers are concerned about reducing the chemicals they are exposed to and put into their bodies.  At the same time, when shopping on a tight budget consumers notice that buying organics can get REALLY expensive. So, what do do? Walk into any store or pick up any magazine or grocery store ad and you’re sure to find the word “organic” and “natural” everywhere you turn, and sometimes it’s use is misleading.  Organic foods (Wikipedia) are “foods that are produced using methods that do not involve modern synthetic inputs such as synthetic pesticides and chemical fertilizers.”

I have been doing my research and slowly transitioning to organic food.  I will be sharing how I have done so and ideas to keep the prices down in a soon-to-come post, but for starters one suggestion is to be sure to wash all food well before consuming it!  Another is to consider which purchases you consider most important to be organic. The following links might be helpful:

True organic food:

For many the thought buying only organics to avoid consuming pesticides, added hormones and antibiotics is just TOO costly,  especially in this economy, but with some guidance we can prioritize what we want to focus on, thanks to the nonprofit organization Environmental Working Group specializes in research and advocacy in the areas of toxic chemicals, agricultural subsidies, public lands, and corporate accountability.  They publically share lists of food called “Dirty Dozen” (recommended foods to be sure to buy organic) and “Clean Fifteen” ( produce lowest in pesticide) to help inform consumers.

There are also great health benefits to eating organic meat and dairy, including helping the environment, but I am taking things one step at a time, because, as I have found, the transition can be a bit overwhelming.

Here’s a quick guide to which organic fruits and veggies are recommended consumers prioritize buying over the others:

Recommended food to by organic: 

These fruits and vegetables are particularly susceptible to pests and treated most with pesticides. They also have thinner skins, which makes removing chemical contamination difficult.

Apples
Celery
Strawberries
Peaches
Spinach/Kale/Lettuce
Nectarines
Grapes
Bell Peppers
Potatoes
Blueberries

Less risks of contamination:

These fruits and vegetables have thicker outer layers that are commonly removed before eating, so there’s less risk for consuming chemical contamination:

Onions
Bananas
Pineapples
Avocado
Mangoes
Cantaloupe
Kiwi

These fruits and vegetables are less susceptible to pests and require less pesticides:

Asparagus
Broccoli
Cabbage
Eggplant

How concerned are YOU about preparing organic food for your family? While consumer concerns about pesticide residues on food is growing, at the same time there are agencies responsible for keeping our food supply safe that reassure us that for the majority of people, the benefits of pesticides far outweigh the risks.

What are your thoughts?  Have you changed over to organics only?  What tips do you have for going organic on a budget?

Photo: Encinitas Whole Foods produce section

Disclaimer: I am not an expert in this field, but am sharing what I have been researching and what is published. Please speak to your doctor or a nutritionist for more information.

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Category: Community Connections, Food and Fun

Comments (1)

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  1. abby hewes says:

    Honestly, it’s all about being a strategic shopper. Most large organic farms like Earthbound Organics have an e-mailing list. Once you subscribe, they’ll email you printable coupons once every few weeks.
    Taking advantage of the coupons available on Sprouts and Whole Foods Websites will also lower your grocery bill when purchasing organics.

    Most 99 Cents Only Locations carry some organic produce (Earthbound Organics and a few other brands), and while they do not accept coupons, the prices for all of their produce is .99/per item, so you will see a significant savings by shopping there.

    I wrote an article of shopping for Organics on a budget here: http://cacoupondiva.com/?p=4233

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