Thursday, January 26, 2012

Anna's guide to going organic

I made the decision a while back to start eating more organic foods. I started with organic canned goods and frozen veggies and now my house hold is almost 100% organic. My husband and I don't make a ton of money so I know that going organic can really be hard on the checkbook. However, the more I thought about it, the more sense it made to make the changes we needed to in our lives in order to afford better, non-toxic, whole foods. Still, it's hard to go to the supermarket and put organic food in the basket when there's a non organic twin that's significantly less expensive right there on the shelf next to it. I feel it's really worth it in the long run to go the organic route and that's why I've made this little guide.

Note #1: These tips are numbered but they aren't really in any special order.

Note #2: I got a lot of this info from listening to Jillian Michaels and reading her books. You can laugh, it's okay, I'm used to it. But she really does a ton of research on this stuff. She's not just a trainer, she educates herself and talks to the experts. (yes, I know I'm a Jillian groupie)

{Anna's guide to going organic}

{1} Look for store brands ~ Many stores now have their own line of organic food. (yay!) I shop at Raley's and Bel Air, family of fine foods (plug: my husband works for the company) and their organic bran is Full Circle. They have produce, canned goods, frozen foods, coffee (I like Bean Tree organic coffee the best though, shhh), meats, pantry items, you name it.

{2} Buy seasonal produce ~ Whatever is in season will be less expensive because there's more of it. The price also reflects how far products have to travel to get to where you are. It'll cost more to get summer fruit in the middle of winter when it has to be shipped from South America. You will even spare us some pollution too.

{3} Shop locally ~ Farmers Markets are all over and they are really great on many fronts. You'll help support local farmers and their families, you'll be shopping seasonally and you'll know where your food came from and all at a great price. It can be very expensive for family farms to get the USDA organic certification. Instead of posting "organic" they may have signs that say "no pesticides". Or ask the farmers if they use pesticides and sprays on their crops.

{4} Thin skin vs. thick skin ~ Not all of your food needs to be organic. If you are going to eat the skin such as apples, grapes and berries, then buy organic. Foods like oranges, melons, pineapple, anything that the thick skin gets peeled or cut off before eating can be non-organic.

{5} Dairy ~ If you're going to eat dairy it really should be organic. It's no wonder why our kids are reaching puberty so early. They are loaded up with growth hormones from about the age of one year. That's when they start drinking cow's milk. The hormones they feed to the cows go right into the cow's milk. No shocker, why again don't breastfeeding mothers guzzle wine at the end of a hard day? Oh yeah... Why would a cow be any different??? Anyway, when buying cow's milk, cheese, butter, go organic. Eggs are okay if you need to pinch pennies. I don't really understand why but that's what I have heard.

{6} Shop on line ~ I do this a lot. The less I'm actually in the store the better I stick to both my list and my budget. This also stops my eyes from wondering around and seeing the price difference between organic and non-organic foods.

{7} Shop in the "health food" section ~ If all you see is organic and healthy options then it's hard to be tempted by non-organics. However, a word of caution, just because you are looking in the "health food" or "natural food" section of the store, not everything in there is organic. Read the labels and look for the USDA organic seal.

{8} Remind yourself of why you're going organic ~ This really helps me. When I'm tempted to reach for a non-organic item, I think about the chemicals and the known carcinogens that are added to that food. It makes it so much easier for me to make the organic choice. I also do this when we are in the car and everyone is hungry and I'm tempted to stop somewhere for a quick, no-cook dinner. Just think about the bigger picture.

{9} Grow a garden ~ I have not done this yet but it's one of my goals for 2012. If you grow some of your own fruits and veggies than you know they're organic, you don't have to pay for them and you will be eating seasonally. (One of my nieces is selling magazine subscriptions with her girl scout troop and form her I ordered Organic Gardening magazine. They haven't started coming in yet but I'm really excited about it.)

{10} Try a service ~ I use Farm Fresh To You. For $30 a box I get a box of fruit delivered to my house once a month. They have different sizes and you can choose how frequently you get a delivery and what kind. There are fruit boxes, veggie boxes, combination boxes and on the website you can limit the kinds of produce to ones you like or want to try. It's a really great thing. check it out their web site for more info.

Please know that I know that I am not perfect! My family doesn't eat all organic. My husband and son refuse to give up their pop tarts, both my kids love fiber 1 bars and they drink vitamin water in their lunches every day but I do what I can. I have listed below some of the organic companies I really like and trust. If you know of some more companies, please share them in the comments section below.

Some of my brands:

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