Once upon a time, all foods were organic. Unfortunately that is no longer the case, and we as consumers need to be educated on why organic foods are not only better for our bodies and our health, but also for the environment.
Why Should We Care About Eating Organic?
1. No Toxic Chemicals.
Conventional farming employs the use of pesticides. They were developed to kill pests but they have also been linked to a variety of health problems in people. Organic farming is a way to prevent these harmful chemicals from getting into the water supply, air and our food.
2. Supports Small Farmers.
Although there are some large farms that are making the transition to organic farming, most organic farms are small and family owned. When you buy from a local farmer, you are supporting your local economy.
3. Protects, Rather Than Depletes the Soil.
Organic farms focus on using renewable resources, crop rotation, composting and other techniques that help preserve the soil rather than deplete it. They cannot use synthetic ingredients, sewage sludge (gross!) or bioengineering to cultivate their crops. Conventional farming has been blamed for soil erosion and depleted soil quality.
4. Saves Energy.
Organic farming reduces the need for non-renewable energy sources. On the flip side, a massive amount of natural gas is required to produce the synthetic fertilizers used in conventional farming.
Have Your Kale and Eat it Too!
So now that you know why you should be eating organic, you might be thinking “But organic is more expensive! I don’t think I can afford it.” Well, I am here to tell you that there are ways to eat organic without breaking the bank. Here are my top four tips for eating organic on a budget:
1. Visit Your Local Farmer’s Market.
Not only does shopping at a local farmer’s market support your local economy, it also saves you money! The farmer doesn’t have the overhead of trucking the produce thousands of miles to get to you (or expensive packaging and advertising!), so the savings can be passed on to you. And let’s not forget a big bonus – local fruits and vegetables taste better because they are fresher! Visit Local Harvest to locate a farmer’s market near you.
2. Buy in Bulk.
Many natural grocery stores offer bulk bins where you can buy a wide variety of organic staples ranging from nuts to grains to dried legumes. Again, when you skip the packaging, you save money! Simply store your bulk ingredients in inexpensive Mason jars to keep the fresh.
3. Join a CSA.
Community supported agriculture allows you to purchase a weekly “share” of produce from a local farm for the season. You benefit from knowing exactly where your food is coming from and have the opportunity to develop a relationship with the farm. Many farms also allow you to visit them during the season. CSA’s aren’t just limited to produce — you can also purchase a share of meat, cheese, eggs or even flowers.
4. Start Your Own Garden.
I know that this can seem intimidating at first, but growing even a few vegetables yourself is one of the biggest money savers there is! There are many companies that offer organic seeds and packs normally range from $2.00 to $3.00. If you are nervous about starting your own garden, start small — choose things like tomatoes, lettuces, zucchini and summer squash. Have limited space? You can grow many herbs and vegetables in containers.
5. Refer to EWG’s Dirty Dozen/Clean 15 List.
Did you know that some fruits and vegetables are more heavily sprayed than others? A tip I always tell my clients is to refer to the handy Clean 15™ List (great to keep in your wallet and refer to when you are grocery shopping!) to learn more about the least and most contaminated produce. If you can’t purchase all organic, try to stay away from heavily sprayed crops like berries, apples, tomatoes, sweet peppers, spinach and grapes.
Eating organic is possible if you follow these simple steps.
Your Body and the Environment Will Thank You!
Do you have any tricks to eating organic food cheaply? Any fantastic farmers markets we should check out? Let us know in the comments below! If you think you want to be a contributing writer to YogaTravelTree.com, visit our Write for Us page and submit your article!
Alethea Copelas is the owner of Compass Nutrition, a holistic health and lifestyle coaching practice in Massachusetts that focuses on showing busy women how to love and nourish their body so they feel beautiful, confident and re-energized. In addition, as a vegetarian chef, she offers in home cooking classes and menu planning. You can contact Alethea at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit her website at www.compassnutritionma.com. She can also be found on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.