My organic non-negotiables, and some money saving tips

28 Sep

Recently, a friend asked about what I see as necessary to buy organic. While I spent an embarrassing amount of my time talking to other people about food and nutrition, there are few topics that come up more often than organic vs. non-organic. So, here are my personal opinions on the matter, followed by some of my favorite money-saving shopping tips!

If you follow my blog, you know that I made a huge career shift in June which cut my pay to a fraction of what I made before. Basically, I now have the income of a part-time college kid. It’s totally sweet, I know. That said, the reduction in income has forced me to prioritize things a bit, and I don’t consider that a bad thing. I’m a big fan of focusing more of life than on things!

So, here you go folks:

1) APPLES! Never, ever, ever buy conventional apples. Not only are they laden with chemical pesticides, they are also coated with tons o’ wax that I believe just can’t be good for you. Especially if you’re adhering to the whole “an apple a day…” thing! So, spend the money here. In my opinion, this is one of the biggest bangs for your buck. I have found the organic apples in my area to taste soooooo much better than their conventional counterparts.

2) Greens (spinach, kale, romaine, etc.). Greens are leafy little suckers, of which we eat every bit. The outside, the inside, the tops, the bottom. So, those pesky pesticides have the opportunity to burrow in every centimeter. While you can rinse your greens, you really aren’t doing much unless you are an OCD vegetable cleaner willing to spend money on those expensive, non-toxic veggie cleaners. At which point, you’d probably have saved money just buying organic.

3) Milk. Um, this topic is huge. And, kind of disturbing too. Basically, I make this choice based on what I know about hormones and antibiotics going into milk. The hormones have all sorts of nasty effects that I’ve read about including causing some sort of pus discharge to be released into the milk. I’d also recommend buying milk from grass-fed cattle where available. But, anyhow, this could be a substantial post on its own. If you haven’t read about conventional vs. organic milk, please do. I’ll spare you the other gory details. 😉

4) Fruits I eat whole. I’m talking about things like strawberries, blueberries, grapes. If I eat something whole, with the skin on, I buy organic. My thought here is that I can’t really get rid of the outside layer to shed the highest dose of pesticides in these types of fruit. So, organic I go.

5) Potatoes. Simply because they are pretty high on the list of overall pesticide load in produce, and I prefer to eat them with the skins on 98% of the time. If you are peeling your potatoes and cooking them at higher heats, I would pass up on organic.

6) Soy & Corn. I figured I’d just lump these together because of the reason I buy these organic – GMO’s (genetically modified…). If you haven’t looked into GMOs, I urge you to do so. You can decide how you feel about it once you’ve educated yourself, but I steer as clear of nasty GMOs as possible. Basically, chemists have re-engineered the DNA of the plants to resist pesticides and natural “predators”. Sounds good in terms of pure capitalism, but in terms of health (especially allergies and cancers), I simply say NO thank you with my spending dollars!

And, honestly folks, that’s my list. Other things, for me, are negotiable depending on my budget and availability. Some things that would be next in priority for me are cauliflower, asparagus, mushrooms, and broccoli. Past that, I just save money and go with conventional produce.

On a side note, not buying organic, doesn’t mean you have to throw your hands up and buy anything. Oftentimes, in the market, you’ll have options of produce based on location of production. For instance, this year in our supermarket, I noticed that we had asparagus from the USA or from Peru. In cases like this, choose the produce grown closest to you. And, buy LOCAL – as in from your community – as much as possible. True, local, small farmers are more likely to care about what is going onto their crops and into your (and their) body. Plus, it’s a pretty sure-shot way of steering clear of GMOs as most GMO crops are grown by large corporately-owned farms that are part of multinational organizations.

Now that we’ve established my stance on organics in many instances, let’s talk about ways I look to keep our grocery bill low and our plant food load high.

Frozen veggies. While I am a HUGE advocate of fresh veggies, sometimes the cost of buying fresh isn’t worth it – especially if my use for the veggies includes baking, steaming, etc. In these cases, frozen veggies work just fine. My fav uses for frozen veggies –  corn for browning in a pan before adding to soups,  veggie mixes for quick stir-fries, cauliflower for mock-mashed-potatoes.

Bulk grains. Given that I can find at least one market with bulk choices here in the nowhere land of Florida I live in, as well as my hometown in Arkansas, I’m going to assume most of you can find these choices too. Instead of buying bags of rice, quinoa, etc, scoop out your own choices and buy from bulk bins. I’ve found prices to be really good because I’m not paying for the brand or packaging. When I get home, I simply pour the grains into large Ball jars (glass jars you can buy from Walmart or Hobby Lobby for cheap), or some other class canisters I’ve purchased along the way.

Dried Beans. Yes, this is a big ol’ pain in the “you know” most of the time because it involves soaking the beans overnight, then cooking them for what seems like an eternity. However, if you’re willing to give up some time for this, you’ll definitely save some mulah! And, beans store well in the fridge, so you can make up a batch for your whole week, which is pretty spectacular.

Fruit. I’m not always the best at eating my fresh fruit each day, but I’m pretty awesome at drinking my smoothies at least a few times a week. So, I always keep frozen fruits (organic 98% of the time) on hand. This reduces waste from spoilage, and ensures that I have tasty, sweet, “fresh” fruit on-hand 24/7.

Wow! What a post. Hopefully this is helpful information to those of you who are curious about buying organic and eating healthy on a budget. More questions? Let me know!!!

Well, work calls. I’ll see y’all this weekend for the Banana Avocado Muffin recipe – FINALLY! I am so sorry for the delay. Somehow I totally lost the recipe I wrote down for these, and my brain isn’t helping me to recall the information so I have to try again tomorrow. I think I’ve got it though, and can’t wait to share. Nom, nom!!!

Last thing before I go…some links to start with if you’re interested in learning more about the above.

The “Dirty Dozen”

Why Organic Milk?

Frozen Veggies are Fresher than Fresh!

Happy Friday y’all. 🙂

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