But I Can't Afford to Eat Organic
My husband recently decided to try to eat better so last night we went to Whole Foods looking for easy organic meals that don't require a lot of food preparation. As we strolled up and down the aisles of Whole Foods trying to stay under $50 I was reminded why so many people feel like they can't afford organic.
In times when the budget gets tight I feel like often the first thing to go are the healthy habits like gym memberships and eating healthy. As a personal trainer and a group fitness instructor I am fortunate that health is my life. I am constantly surrounded by exercise and eating healthy. However, being a new trainer/group fitness doesn't pay a boat load. So I totally understand the plight of trying to care for yourself and not go broke. Experts say that eating organic is always the best choice because it is better for your health, the environment, and the farmers. So what do you do if you are broke and you can't afford to eat everything organic? Here are 4 things to ask yourself when purchasing organic versus non organic to save a buck of two.
#1) Does the produce come in its own natural packaging?
When farmers spray pesticides on their crop it typically settles on the outside layer of fruit or vegetable. For most cases you only have to worry about buying organic fruits and vegetables if you eat the skin. For instances you can eat a banana that is non organic because the it comes in its own natural packing. A strawberry on the other hand should be an organic because there is no peeling of the skin. You eat the entire fruit (minus the green leaves). Look for produce that has thicker peels such as cantaloupe, avocados and pineapples.
#2) Frozen Organic or Fresh Non Organic?
I've always been told that hierarchy of nutritious food goes fresh, then frozen, and then canned. While fresh fruits and vegetables contain the most nutrients, it is important to note that fresh produce is often transported from far away and then proceeds to sit on store shelves. Fresh fruits and vegetables also loose their nutritional content when exposed to excessive light and air. Interestingly enough freezing produce doesn't have any real effects on the nutritional content. Frozen vegetables are picked at the time that they are at their best, and then flash frozen.
If you can't afford the fresh organic strawberries I say go ahead and purchase the frozen organic kind. It typically can save you $2 and then they keep much longer than fresh fruit.
#3) Is it on the list?
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is a non-profit, non-partisan organization that has created a list of produce that is safe to eat non organic year round as well as a list of fruits and vegetables that should be avoided when they are grown conventionally. These lists are known as the "clean 15" and the "dirty dozen." The clean 15 have little to no traces of pesticides, while the dirty dozen tested positive for at least 47 different chemicals. 12So when i n doubt consult the list!
#4) What is the difference between junk food and organic junk food?
A lot of people think that organic crackers and cookies automatically means these foods will have less sugar, calories and/or tastes better. All organic means is that the ingredients are farmed in a different way (usually more eco friendly) but that doesn't mean it's always better for you. A cookie is a cookie, a cracker is a cracker, process food is processed food. It really doesn't matter if it's organic or not. Ironically, highly processed foods require more resources and energy to manufacture and distribute than simple produce from mother earth. Do yourself a favor and skip the organic junk food. Its not better for you or your wallet.
Eating healthy doesn't have to be expensive and you don't have to resort to Ramen Noodles for breakfast, lunch and dinner to stay on budget. Be a savy shopper and remember that if you can't afford fresh organic there is always frozen organic options, you don't have to buy organic if the fruit and vegetable is thick skinned, avoid the dirty dozen and organic junk food is still junk food.