What does organic really mean?
The USDA National Organic Program (NOP) defines organic as follows:
“Organic food is produced by farmers who emphasize the use of renewable resources and the conservation of soil and water to enhance environmental quality for future generations. Organic meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products come from animals that are given no antibiotics or growth hormones. Organic food is produced without using most conventional pesticides; fertilizers made with synthetic ingredients or sewage sludge; bioengineering; or ionizing radiation. Before a product can be labeled “organic,” a Government-approved certifier inspects the farm where the food is grown to make sure the farmer is following all the rules necessary to meet USDA organic standards. Companies that handle or process organic food before it gets to your local supermarket or restaurant must be certified, too.
Conventional farming has brought us
- A business climate that has meant the end for many family-owned farms
Why Eating Organic Matters
We agree in the importance of eating organic.
- Its healthier for you and your family
- Organic farmers generally are better for the environment.
Organic farmers use less energy, generate less waste, cause less soil erosion, sustain more diversity, enable wildlife to thrive and provide healthier conditions for workers.
I used to think feeding my family organic would cost me an arm and a leg. Though organic sometimes can be more expensive than buying conventional, that doesn’t mean it’s not accessible to families on a budget. The following list will help you prioritize which fruits and vegetables to buy organic and which ones you can buy conventional.
How to Eat Organic – 10 Simple Tips.
1. Know your labels.
Just because it says “natural”, “hormone free”, “free range” doesn’t mean it is. Look for the USDA label. According to the USDA Organic National Program organic means: “Organic is a labelling term that indicates that 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. Synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, irradiation, and genetic engineering may not be used”. This is true for food as well as skin and body products.
2. Shop local.
The best organic foods are the ones grown near you. I love farmer’s markets. In my area, there are even winter farmer’s market as well as one open all year around! Unfortunately, in the cold months, there isn’t a great variety of fruits and vegetable available locally, but whenever possible shop at your local farmer’s market, you are supporting your local economy and you get really fresh products. It’s not all that expensive as you may think either; last time I went to my winter farmer’s market I bought garlic, onions, grass-fed beef and pork, a pound of organic garlic-and-herbs cheese (oh boy, was that delicious!) and all we spent was just a little over $20! I even walked away with a free bar of all-natural Calendula soap! You can click here to find a farmer’s market near you.
3. Use coupons.
I used to never use coupons, out of laziness, until I realized I could be saving some money. No, I’m not like those hard-core coupon users, but what’s wrong about saving, say, 10 bucks? That’s one grande organic skim vanilla latte no foam no whip and a chocolate chip biscotti at Starbucks! What? I didn’t say I was good at managing my saved dollars, that’s my husbands forte! Anyway, back to the coupons, there are coupons available for organic items, Whole Foods monthly publication The Whole Deal has coupons for their in-house brand as well as other brands. A great, and I mean great, a source is a wonderful blog Mindfully Frugal, she posts deals from everywhere, coupons galore!
4. Plan your meals.
I have to confess I am not the greatest at this but I try to plan my dinner menu for the next two weeks, based on that I make my shopping list and I pair it with my coupons. Try it, it is sanity knowing what you are cooking that night as well as knowing you can stick to a budget and be able to buy organic. My grocery shopping is about 75% organic (fruits and veggies 90 to 100%) and my grocery bill on average is $100-125 for two weeks. I don’t think that is bad at all, what do you think?
5. Shop in-house brands.
One way I’m able to buy organic is by shopping the in-house labels like Nature’s Promise by Giant Eagle or 365 Everyday Value by Whole Foods. Their prices are actually not much higher than conventional and a lot of times they go on sale.
6. Prioritize your produce.
Focus on buying less but higher quality organic. Think quality over quantity
7. Eat less meat.
I believe in meat, I believe in saturated fat, and I believe in quality over quantity. By choosing fewer dishes with meet can be a way to cut down on the cost per meal. (I recommend local grass-fed meat if possible.)
8. Grow it yourself.
Last summer thanks to my mom I had my own tomato garden in my limited apartment space. You might want to look into growing your own garden, we didn’t spend on tomatoes and herbs all summer long! Even in the cold months you can grow certain plants inside or freeze batches from your summer harvest. I’m little challenged in this area but I intend to do learn and do more this year.
9. Buy a whole chicken instead of trays.
If you buy a tray of organic chicken thighs it can be quite expensive, but by buying a whole chicken you get just as many pieces. An added benefit is you can make your own organic chicken stock with the bones and leftover pieces when you are cutting your pieces. But the best option is to buy local, every Saturday I buy from the same farmer, a whole pastured chicken and it is less money per pound than when buying from the grocery store.
10. Believe in organic and set your goals.
Read about it, learn about it. hopefully, I’ve done my job to plant the seed. Now you can go and research more about it, decide if it’s what you want for your family. Only when you see the value in it will you make it a priority. Start somewhere. Maybe for you, the next step is to learn more about it or maybe switch to organic milk or start with just produce, the point is to start small, and work your way up!
11. Now let’s talk about milk
Our dairy cows are treated with rBGH (bovine growth hormone)!
In order to make the cows all big and fat to produce lots of milk, they are treated with rGBH; this sometimes resulting in infections such as mastitis.
When I buy organic produce and hormone/antibiotic-free milk and meat I don’t just do it because is healthier for me and my family, but because I refuse to be part of a vicious cycle that is ruining our natural resources and damaging the health of farmers and farm-workers.