Ayurveda teaches us to eat holistically and to get back to our roots of whole and organic foods rather than processed and packaged foods. Switching to organic food can impact personal and environmental health for all! We often are told that organic foods are expensive. This is why we want to give yo u strategies for buying organic and whole foods.
“Organic” refers to how agricultural items are grown. To be considered as “certified organic” in the U.S., crops must be grown without synthetic pesticides, bioengineered genes (GMOs), petroleum-based fertilizers, and sewage sludge-based fertilizers.
“Organic livestock” that are raised for meat, eggs, and dairy products must have access to the outdoors, be given organic feed, and not be given antibiotics, growth hormones, or animal byproducts.
Organic food prohibits pesticides, GMOs, antibiotics, and other harmful additives. Organic farming can also impact the health of the environment for people, animals, and habitats near farms.
Pesticides are substances and chemical compounds that are used to kill, repel, or control plants or animals that are considered “pests.” Scientists are still figuring out the full side effects of pesticide residue. The Agricultural Health Study is working on long-term studies on pesticide exposure on farm families. Some evidence suggests children are the most susceptible to the effects of pesticides and it can affect their neurodevelopment.
How to Purchase Organic
Labels will clearly state if they are USDA approved organic seal. This is what you should be looking for when buying organic from a grocery store. Be aware of false advertising such as, “organic,” “green,” or “natural” that do not have the USDA seal. Buying organic can be more expensive, but this is beginning to change as more people purchase organic foods from local farms. The best way to start to buy organic is to also buy local at the farmer’s markets near you.
Tips to Buying Organic
1. Know what’s important to buy organic
It isn’t necessary to purchase every single thing organic if you’re on a budget. We suggest to prioritize your spending on foods that are more important to buy organic. The Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit organization, analyzes the results of government pesticide testing in the U.S. They have compiled their list called the “dirty dozen,” that identifies the foods with the highest amount of pesticide residue. This list is a great way to know to buy these items organic.
- Strawberries (Link to an article on the California strawberry industry’s over-use of dangerous pesticides)
- Sweet bell peppers
The Environmental Working Group also has an expanded dirty dozen plus list.
2. Know what’s less important to buy organic
The general rule is that anything with a thick or tough rind are okay to purchase non-organic as the rind protects the fruit from having too many pesticides. If you eat the skin, such as some with kiwi’s, we suggest to buy them organic.
- Honeydew melon
- Sweet corn
- Frozen peas
3. Buy in season
Produce is cheaper when it’s in season because it doesn’t need to be shipped around the world and it’ll be in more abundance.
4. Find a low-cost CSA box
If you don’t have time to visit to go grocery shopping, consider signing up for a Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) box. This box s usually delivered to your door and you can pick a box full of seasonal produce. You can also share the box with a friend or family to cut cost.
5. Plan out your meals
Planning out your meals can help you save money and time. When you plan your meals you can maintain a consistent budget and know ahead of time what you need to buy. This also reduces the chances of eating out.
6. Shop local
Farmer’s markets are going to have great local and organic foods. Organic foods in grocery stores can be unreasonably priced due to the convenience. Farmer’s markets get are direct from the farm without a “middle-man” and will have more in-season, locally grown produce.
7. Grow your own food
To many this might seem crazy, but it is one of the best ways to save money and have high quality produce. You can even grow just herbs and tomatoes.
We hope some of these tips were helpful to start buying more organically grown foods. We want you to be smart shoppers and to know what’s going in your body. You can start small and try doing one of these tips or just by doing some research on worse or better brands to buy. We want you to be happy, healthy, and vibrant!