Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Food for thought...

When I have shared with people the changes that my family has chose to make about going organic. The no. 1 thing I hear is how expensive it is, and how hard it is to go organic. While I do agree, that the cost is definitely higher and it is a bit more time consuming than eating main stream foods... I still think it is so important. So, I went looking for an article to explain some of the more important foods and facts to focus on, even if you just want to get your feet wet with this lifestyle!

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Organic foods do more than help keep toxins out of our soil, water, and air. They also keep dangerous toxins out of your family’s bodies and help keep farmers (and farmers children) safe which yes is better for everyone’s health in spite of recent news that claims otherwise. Organics better support a local economy and are a good purchase because you’re showing companies and the government where your Eco-priorities stand. Lastly, if more people purchase organics prices will go down (simple supply and demand) so your purchase can help other families to be able to afford organics.

That said, right now, organic versions of foods do tend to be priced somewhat higher than conventional, so if you only have so and so dollars set aside in your budget for organics, you may as well put those dollars to the best possible use. Following is a handy list of the foods you should always try to buy organic before others…

Veggies & Fruits — in any form (canned, jarred, fresh, frozen, dehydrated, etc.)

When buying produce I tend to go by the Dirty Dozen list first. The Dirty Dozen list is made up of produce that has the largest concentrated amounts of pesticides. The current Dirty Dozen includes…

Peaches (worst)
Sweet Bell Peppers
Imported Grapes
Other produce consider buying organic at all times include…

Edamame (soy beans) + soy milk + soy formula + tofu
Potatoes — all colors and varieties (including frozen like Tatar tots or french fries).
Lemons, oranges, and limes or other citrus when used for zest

Dairy products + eggs:

Dairy products and eggs contain large amounts of growth hormones. Also, organic versions of dairy and eggs are more beneficial for your health. I always buy organic milk because my son drinks a lot of it. I also try to always buy organic cheese, milk, and yogurt, because Cedar also eats a lot of these items. I’m more flexible on items like butter, cream cheese, and ice cream because we don’t consume as much of it, although when I find a decent priced organic alternative I will buy it. Note: before you buy organic dairy read – choosing sustainable dairy and can you trust organic dairy products?

Meat and poultry:

There are pesticides found in meats and poultry because cows and other animals eat feed grown in heavy toxic chemicals, but the main reason that studies and most experts say you should buy organic meat is because of the dangers of hormones, antibiotics and additives. To avoid both pesticides and unnatural additives, you should always buy organic meats and poultry. That said, organic meats are super expensive, so another option is to simply eat less meat which is more healthy anyhow. Note though, if you exchange meat for soy based products, you should buy those in organic form too, because soy is a high pesticide offender.

Baby food: Infants and young children are far more susceptible to the dangers of pesticides than adults. Every bite of food your baby has should be organic – and honestly, since they eat small amounts, this is an affordable area, especially if you make your own homemade organic baby food – bonus, it’s VERY easy to make homemade baby food, I promise.

Grains: According to Safe Food, grains (along with animal products and wine) show the most pesticide residue of all food products. However, other studies show that whole grain breads have more pesticides than white because whole wheat bread, “Uses the entire kernel, so can contain more pesticides than white bread, which is made using only the inside of the kernel.” (Source – pdf). Another study shows that bread is a top kid affecting food, because little ones tend to eat a lot of it. Quite a few pesticides are found in rice (a grass not grain, but here we’ll call it a grain) and rice products. Pasta, another grain, picks up its own fair share of pesticides.

Basically, grains is one of those categories where you should buy organic of any item you eat a lot of whenever possible. The good news is that organic rice, pasta, and grains are actually not much more expensive that their conventional counterparts – especially if you purchase them from the bulk section of your grocery store. Bread is the one exception here, and usually runs considerably higher cost for organic, but you can still afford it if you get a natural store name brand, i.e. Whole Foods brand or Trader Joes.

In a nutshell:

It’s a lot to digest but really, you don’t want your kids eating pesticides. Studies show that feeding children organics does result in extremely smaller amounts of toxins and other nasty junk in their bodies. Also, I know it can seem overwhelming, because organics can cost more, but with budget changes you can afford it. Soon, some tips on how to make those budget changes so that your family can afford organic foods.

Which foods does your family buy in organic form?

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