Everyone seems to be jumping on the organic bandwagon lately, whether long-time devotees like Gwyneth Paltrow sharing her knowledge on Goop and Alicia Silverstone speaking for veganism, iconic American gurus like Oprah seeking out how to “turn back the clock” in her final season, ex-Presidents like Clinton sharing his radical lifestyle change to a plant-based diet and current First Ladies like Michelle growing an organic garden on the White House lawn, world class athletes like Brendan Brazier sharing years of his vegan training diet knowledge through books and public appearances… Even McDonald’s is starting to respond to the popularity of living and eating healthy, widely publicizing the addition of fruit smoothies to their menu.
How do you navigate all this information? How do you know what’s truly healthy? With the proliferation of diets out there – Mediterranean Diet, Atkins Diet, Eating for Your Blood Type, vegetarian, vegan, raw food – how do you choose the one that’s right for you? And once you’ve done all this, how do you not break the bank on something you’re not 100% sure is what you should be eating anyway? Are you overwhelmed yet? Because we are!
We will explore all of these questions in blog posts to come, but in our first post we will start with what we consider to be the essential information about choosing your food so you can immediately feed yourself.
Do you realize there are over 200 industrial chemicals and pesticides found in newborns’ blood, chemicals that are linked to cancer, Parkinson’s, infertility, ADHD and more? What we eat is only partially to blame, but it’s a significant piece we can control through the choices we make every day.
- If you choose to shop at the grocery store, shop the perimeter. All of the whole, unprocessed foods are found along the outside edge, and not down any aisle. Have you ever noticed this? Vegetables, fruits, eggs, dairy and meats in their least processed state reside along the perimeter.
- For your fruits and vegetables, buy organic when possible. This is also expensive! And, “organic” doesn’t guarantee quality anymore now that big agriculture knows there’s money to be made in organics. To help save your wallet and your health, there are several things you can do.
- Shop the clean fifteen/dirty dozen shopper’s guide to pesticides. The Shopper’s Guide will help you determine which fruits and vegetables have the most pesticide residues and are therefore the most important to buy organic. General rule of thumb is: ones where we eat the skin buy organic. Like peaches.
- Know your PLUs. A 9 followed by four digits is certified organic. An 8 followed by four digits is genetically modified (do not buy it!). A four-digit number, instead of 5-digit, is conventional.
- Buy a share or half share from your local CSA (community supported agriculture) or local farmer. It does not have to be a certified organic CSA program or farm if you research the farm and farmer – ask what their farming practices are. Many farmers have been farming organically and sustainably for decades, but cannot afford the costly certification. Local growers we love: Tendercrop Farm, First Light Farm and Russell Orchards.
- Utilize the 2011 Shopping Guide from the Weston A. Price Foundation – it’s a comprehensive guide published each year to help you find the healthiest foods in supermarkets, health food stores, and by mail order. Only $1!
- If you choose to eat meat and vegetables; eat mostly vegetables. Whatever conditions the meat was raised in, you will then assimilate into all of your organs and cells once you consume it.
Our man friends are both meat eaters, and we would not begrudge them that, but we do carefully watch the source of the meats they are eating – free range, grass fed and finished, foraging, wild. This can be expensive! There are solutions. Hunt. Not into that? Find a local farmer who raises their animals without hormones or antibiotics and lets them eat as nature intended, and look into purchasing a half cow, pig, etc., and freezing it. This is far more affordable than buying cuts of meat every week. You can even split your order with family or friends if you don’t have the freezer space. A good resource is Eat Wild of Vermont.
Keep in mind that fruits and vegetables, whether organic or conventional, greatly lower your risk of developing cancer, heart disease and many other health issues. Even Al Gore cut his meat consumption to once a week.
You’re now armed with the essentials about where and how to shop for fruits, vegetables and meats to maximize your health and stretch your wallet. We will explore more myths about organic food and healthy living in posts to come…
Lori and Augusta