Today is Blog Action Day 2011. This year’s topic is food, which is a little redundant here at Growing a Green Family, since we discuss food all the time. With that in mind, I thought we’d take a peek back at my favorite food issues – organic food.
Organics can be rough
When I decided to go organic, I almost went nuts trying to get a grasp on it. Not only is organics a HUGE topic, but when I first got super interested in organic food it was way back in 2001 and organics simply weren’t as out in the open.
Do you know how much organic food info is out there? There are dozens of books, movies, tons of debating back-and-fourth research and, at the time, organic food was much harder to come by. Not to mention all my friends and family members talking in circles about the issue. Also, back in 2001, organics were a lot more expensive. I had a newborn and was in college full time, so also attempting to go organic was 100% insane. My mind was overwhelmed with information.
Luckily for you, going organic in 2011 is not nearly as tough. You can totally go organic while avoiding all the organic chaos. Following are some helpful tips.
Why go organic?
If going organic is so darn hard, why bother? There are tons of reasons to go organic. For example, organic food is GMO-free and doesn’t contain nasty artificial flavors or colors. Most of all, organic food doesn’t contain all the same gross pesticides that conventional foods do.
You’ll often hear, “Organics aren’t any healthier,” but seriously, how is feeding your child pesticides (basically poison) a sane idea? I know people teach their child not to mess with cleaners under the sink, so why on earth would people then turn around and feed toxins and chemicals willingly to their kid?
People confuse “Nutrition” with “Healthy” but there’s a real difference. Yes, organic apples and conventional apples may contain the same nutrients, but that’s missing the point. Conventional foods contain stuff meant to kill weeds and bugs. Do you want to eat stuff meant to kill? Does that sound healthy? Pesticides have been linked to cancer and a slew of other health problems.
Get to know organic food
If labels like “natural” vs. “organic” vs. “USDA organic” have got you confused, carry a cheat sheet to the grocery store. No one will know. Everyone will just think you’re looking at your grocery list.
- EWG’s Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce + app for your phone
- The True Food Shoppers’ Guide to Avoiding GMOs
- Organic Center’s pocket guide (pdf)
- Tons of handy healthy pocket guides – including food guides.
Know your best organic food options
Some organic food items are more important than others. If you’re budgeting, buy the most important organics first, before wasting your cash on the less important ones. Get to know the Dirty Dozen list, which points out produce that contains the most, or least pesticides. Choose to go organic as much as you’re comfortable with in small steps. You DO NOT have to go 100% organic all at once. If you try, you’ll only make yourself crazy. Really, even I don’t buy 100% organic food – although that is a goal of mine.
Also, be open to change. Your favorite cookies, cereal, and yogurt may not come in organic versions – don’t panic. Explore your new organic options. See what is offered in organic foods rather than looking for what you’re used to buying.
Sort out the truth about organic food
Sadly, not all organic food is created equally. There’s a ton of misinformation out there, and plenty of companies looking to make a buck of the term, “Organic.” Don’t get fooled. If you’re going organic, you may as well, know what you’re getting.
- Which Organic Dairy Products are the Most Trustworthy?
- Unscrambling Organic Eggs: Separating Facts from Fiction
- Organic Food Can Make You Fat – don’t confuse organic with low-fat, low-calorie.
You can afford organic food
I buy more organics now then I did back in 2001, yet, I also spend less money on organics now than I used to. Part of this is because organics are more readily available. The other part is that I’ve simply learned over the years what to buy and where to buy it.
Research shows that organics cost less at your local Farmer’s Market, so shopping there first (before the grocery store) can save you money.
Lastly, eat less meat. Switching to organics can be a hit (at first) money-wise. Cutting out meat will lower your initial cross over to organics.
Try some organic dishes and cook with your kids. Organic cooking is an excellent way to grow greener values in your child. Check out 18 Green & Healthy Cookbooks for some recipe ideas, or see these easy starter organic recipes below (kid-friendly).
- Homemade Organic Vegetable Pot Pie
- Homemade Organic Goldfish Crackers
- Organic Black Raspberry Chocolate Frozen Yogurt
- Homemade Organic Ice Pops
- Homemade Organic Cran-Strawberry Roll-Ups
- Homemade Organic Honey Oat Bread – EASY
The above tips should help you out if you’re looking to go organic. Keep in mind that going organic is a major diet and budget adjustment. It’s like getting used to being vegetarian, or trying to create a low-sodium or low-fat diet. If it’s new to you, it’ll take time to perfect. No worries, take it step-by-step and your mind will stay happily intact.
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