Should You Buy Organic?

 

 

Currently, more than one third (34.9% or 78.6 million) of adults in the U.S. are obese. Some of the most preventable causes of death like heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer can all be caused by obesity [1]. The safest and most effective way to combat this epidemic is by making significant, healthy lifestyle changes. A great first step in the change process is making a long-term commitment to a healthy diet. This doesn’t mean starting a crazy “diet of moment”, it means having a well rounded diet with healthy food choices and normal portion sizes. The recent cultural push of healthy eating has lead to questioning and research into the safety of hormones, pesticides and genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in our food. The way food is raised or grown has become a serious concern for consumers and has created a greater demand for organic food and products.

“Organic” refers to the way a farmer grows and processes an agricultural product, such as, meat, fruits, vegetables and dairy. While organic farming practices help improve the soil and pollution, organic products also provide critical benefits for consumers as listed below:

  • Produce contains no or significantly less pesticides
  • Animals are raised with without the use of growth hormones or antibiotics, or fed animal byproducts
  • Products are not, or do not contain GMOs
  • Organic food is produced in smaller amounts and is often fresher
  • Consumers of organic food see fewer symptoms associated with allergies to food, chemicals or preservatives.
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    The hardest part about switching to an organic diet is dealing with the increase in cost. It’s true, organic meats and produce are more expensive, which can drive away budget conscious consumers. Luckily, there are several things you can do to help fill your cart with organic products without emptying your wallet. If you’re new to organic shopping, make sure to do your research first and start out by switching out the items you use the most first, like produce, meats or dairy. Once you’ve planned out what organic products you want to buy, use some of these tips to help save on your organic purchases:

  • Try to buy produce that is in season and limit your purchases of products that have the highest potential for pesticides. Use www.ewg.org to learn what produce is considered the “dirtiest”
  • Find sales and coupons online or in the newspaper
  • Plan meals based on advertised sales and deals
  • Buy organic store brands
  • Buy organic foods in bulk if they can be stored or frozen and will not spoil quickly
  • Compare prices between fresh v. frozen and dried v. canned
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    Knowing where to shop for organic food is just as important as knowing how to shop for organic food. Most major grocery stores offer some organic products, but you will usually find the best deals at stores that are specifically designed to sell organic products. Good stores to start with include national chains such as: Aldi, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, Fresh Thyme and warehouse clubs. Stores aren’t your only option, however, you can also save money and guarantee freshness by shopping at a local farmer’s market, ordering specialty products online or growing your own produce at home.

    Shopping for organic products can be overwhelming and confusing, so make sure to plan ahead, do some research and always check for “USDA Organic” seals. For more help, check out: www.ewg.org and www.eatwellguide.org.

    References:
    [1] http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/adult.html