A Guide To Buying Organic

I get a lot of questions from readers and folks in my personal life asking for one simple change they can make to have a healthier diet. My response is usually “eat less sugar and eat more greens.” Many of us struggle to get enough vegetables into our diet, period, so I don’t often talk about the importance of the kinds of vegetables that we choose. 

However, I want to spend some more time today talking about the importance of buying organic and how to easily and effortlessly make the switch –with the least amount of impact on your wallet!

For the past few years there has been a lot of buzz going on around organics: Is organic produce really better for you? Is organic produce worth the cost? Does organic produce have more nutrients than conventionally-grown produce?

Here is my answer: organic matters.

Organic produce is grown without the use of pesticides, chemical fertilizers, and does not contain genetically modified (GMOs). Here in the United States, the USDA controls the organic certification and labeling process. They consider an item to be organic if:
  • The food or other agricultural product has been produced through approved methods that integrate cultural, biological, and mechanical practices that foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity. This means that synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, irradiation, and genetic engineering may not be used.
  • The food contains a minimum of 95% organic ingredients.

I believe that organic matters for our health, the health of the farmers growing our food, and the health of our environment. From where I stand, the point of organic produce isn’t whether it has more nutrients, but rather, that it does not contain the harmful chemicals that are used in conventional farming. When I hear about a study comparing vitamin levels between conventional and organic vegetables, I feel like they’ve missed the point.

Pesticides have been shown to cause liver, kidney, and blood diseases, as well as various forms of cancer. These chemicals build-up in our tissues over time, resulting in a weakened immune system. And, interestingly enough, researchers are finding out that many of these pesticides act as “obesogens” and are causing us to gain weight and keep it on. This makes perfect sense because many of these chemicals are stored in our fat cells as our body’s natural defense to protect our organs. The last thing our body wants to do is allow toxins to float around in our bloodstream so it holds onto that fat to prevent this from happening. 

Many of my private health coach clients come to me because they struggle with losing weight and experience extreme “detox” symptoms as they do so. A lot of the resistance I hear from folks about buying organic is the cost. I’m not going to lie to you. Yes, buying organic is generally more expensive, but what is the price of your health worth to you? And, if you’ve been struggling with losing weight, think about how much money you might be spending on “diet” foods or products. 

I know that transitioning to buying organic produce can cost more money and may seem overwhelming in the beginning so let me help you get started. Each year, the Environmental Working Group tests the pesticide residue in different items and updates their Dirty Dozen List (produce with the most pesticide residue) and their Clean Fifteen list (produce with the least pesticide residue). 

If you are new to buying organic, review my guide below as this will help you to make the best choices for your health and your wallet. And, if you don’t have access to organic produce, then I would highly discourage you from buying items on the Dirty Dozen list, period. I know it may not be possible to avoid these items 100% (especially if you eat at most restaurants), but cutting back on your pesticide exposure will significantly improve your health and be worth it in the end. 

To help prevent overwhelm and save a few dollars, most of the items on the Clean Fifteen list can be purchased conventionally. The one thing I would caution against is buying conventional sweet corn because most of the corn that is available to us in the United States is genetically modified. GMOs are created through genetic engineering which merges DNA from different species to create combinations of plant, animal, bacterial, and viral genes that cannot occur in nature or traditional crossbreeding.

 

I personally don’t feel comfortable eating genetically modified food because they are still so new to our diets that at this point, we aren’t even aware of the risks of eating GMO foods long-term. You’ll also see on my guide to buying organic that I have included soy in the organic list. In addition to corn, soybeans are one of the highest genetically-engineered crops in the US so if I buy tofu or tempeh, I always make it a priority to buy organic. 

So, remember to eat your greens — but make sure they’re organic!
What are your thoughts on buying organic? What items do you always make sure to purchase organic?
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Comments

  1. says

    This is a great, short & sweet guide. Love it and totally agree with it. I buy mostly organic, luckily I belong to a local co-op. But sometimes I do make exceptions for items on the clean list only! I used to steer clear of soy, but now I will eat it on occasion ONLY if it is organic.

    A couple of other things that I only buy organic are zucchini and summer squash. From what I’ve read they are both highly GMO’d as well, unless I can be assured it is not GMO. This is important to me especially since I tend to eat zucchini noodles quite often. I rarely eat rice or quinoa pasta since I love zucchini noodles.

    And just want to say, I love your blog! :)

    • says

      Thanks Aimee! I agree about the zucchini and summer squash and the funny thing is I’ve been ADDICTED to zucchini pasta this week! I’ll have lots of zucchini recipes coming up in June! :)

  2. says

    We’re slowly moving over to organic. I would love to be able to buy more organic, but my budget can’t handle it right now. However we’re moving into farmers’ market season right now and one of the local ones is pretty consistently both locally produced and organic-and my spinach was a dollar more for twice the amount of what I’ve been getting for conventional lately. Eventually we’ll get so everything is organic but it’s a process for us!

  3. Aditi Sharma says

    Organic foods are grown without man-made pesticides or plant foods, antibiotics or growth hormones. They are commonly considered as secure to consume as traditionally grown foods, information Dietitians of Canada, although poultry increased without hormones can have better levels of the toxin salmonella. While some organic food items are more nutritious than their non-organic equivalents, others are equal. Here you can find all organic foods Supplier and sea foods supplier and game meat supplier also.
    http://www.expatdeli.com/

  4. Steroids says

    Conventional theory holds that people purchase insurance because they prefer the certainty of paying a small premium to the risk of getting sick and paying a large medical bill…….
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  5. says

    Nice information, valuable and excellent design, as share good stuff with good ideas and concepts, lots of great information and inspiration, both of which I need, thanks to offer such a helpful information here

  6. hs. says

    I read about what should not be used to grow food but I like to know what should be used to grow vegetables and meat and fish??

    Thank you.
    hs.

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