Friday, April 1, 2011

Frugal Friday: Selective Organic

When some people hear "organic", they think "expensive". Truth be told, it IS expensive to do organic if you buy EVERYTHING organic: organic apples, organic cookies, organic clothing.

Well, don't do EVERYTHING organic. I, personally, find it ridiculous to buy organic cookies. If you're going organic for health reasons, you may want to reconsider your snacking. I heard food journalist and author of Food Matters Mark Bittman discuss in an interview that the most common choice Americans are faced with is not between organic broccoli and standard broccoli; it's between broccoli and a burger. The organic cookies don't mean much if you are choosing cookies more than you choose an orange.

If you want to lean more towards organic food or if you have been struggling with your grocery budget since you converted to organic food, consider the following. When the grocery budget is modest, but your healthy intentions are big, focus your purchasing on a few items that make the most impact.

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) analyzed conventionally-grown (non-organic) produce to measure pesticide residue levels. After nearly 96,000 tests, they determined that consumers could reduce their exposure to pesticides by nearly 90% if they avoided the most contaminated foods or replaced them with their organic counterparts.

The 12 most contaminated fruits and vegetables are:
  1. Celery
  2. Peaches
  3. Strawberries
  4. Apples
  5. Blueberries (domestic)
  6. Nectarines
  7. Sweet bell peppers
  8. Spinach
  9. Kale / Collard greens
  10. Cherries
  11. Potatoes
  12. Grapes (imported)
You can get a shopping pocket guide here, but see the full list of tested produce here. The full list seems to be updated more often and you will notice that the "Dirty Dozen" at the bottom of the list varies a little bit. But, hey, it doesn't hurt to know what other fruits or veggies would make the "worst" list if the organization decided to include number 13 and 14, right?

Currently, the only organic my family buys is spinach, carrots, and apples since we tend to juice these, and juicing makes things more readily absorbed by the body. (I didn't think it a good idea to make pesticides easier for my body to absorb!) Interesting enough, my wallet was easily converted to buying the organic carrots when I found that my grocery store prices them cheaper than the standard carrots. That may not be forever, but for as long as that lasts, I'll take it!

Now, you know eating organic doesn't have to break the grocery budget if you know where to focus your efforts and your dollars.

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