Guy: Bare with me here… If someone was eating a quick and easy microwave meal for lunch and one day decided to replace that with a non-organic beef salad instead, I think it would be fair to say that’s a step in the right direction… right? What about those that eat the non-organic beef salad on a regular basis and then decide to have an organic version… the right step? Of course!
But what about the family with five kids to feed, or the parent that just lost his job and needs to tighten the financial reigns… then what? Personally I think you have to make the most of what you’ve got and work towards constant improvement over time. Everyone’s circumstances are different and you have to adjust accordingly. That doesn’t mean excuses, it just means being practical and looking for the best ways to make the most of your circumstances. So if you want to find out cost effective ways and strategies of how and what organic foods to shop for, then read on, as this is a fantastic post by naturopath Lynda Griparic on being street smart with your organic food. Over to Lynda…
Lynda: Do I need to eat organic is a question that I get asked very often. In fact it is one that I have asked myself from time to time as well.
Let’s start with what “Organic farming” actually means. Put simply it is a label given to food that is produced without synthetic chemicals such as fertilizers, pesticides, hormones, antibiotics, modified organisms, nanomaterials and human sewage sludge.
The benefits to eating organic foods are less exposure to these harmful pesticides and other disruptive chemicals. An interesting fact is that on average organic foods are 180 times lower in pesticides than the conventional types. Eating organic also ensures that we are not getting any genetically modified ingredients.
Plants and animals are exposed to many chemicals such as antibiotics, hormones and pesticides to accelerate crop production, boost quantity and weight and ward off nasty agricultural pests and bacteria. Animals are often fed antibiotics and hormones (estrogen and testosterone) to accelerate their weight and growth. As you can imagine if they are lethal and toxic enough to kill pests and interfere with natural growth rate then they could only be causing harm in the body of a human.
Humans accumulate toxins as do animals predominantly in fat (Adipose tissue), where they remain and disrupt many bodily systems such as the nervous system, digestive system, immune system and reproductive system.
The following list is not conclusive but will give you a taste of how these toxins can affect the body and mind:
- Hormonal imbalance; early puberty, ovarian cysts, breast enlargement
- Shorter pregnancies
- Behavioural and developmental disorders
- Poor brain function: Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, memory, concentration
- Leaky gut and the digestive consequences that arise from this
In a perfect world consuming everything organic would be ideal, but is it really realistic on a cost front?
For most, probably not. At times during our lives certain situations may cause you to re-evaluate your spending, such as a change in working environment, pregnancy, a new addition to the family, athletic competition, retirement or illness.
The good news is that while there are certain foods I would not consume unless organic, there are many conventionally grown foods typically lower in harmful chemicals. If unable to go completely organic, go conventional with these foods. Eating well does not need to send you into debt. It really is possible and well worth the effort and attention when choosing food.
Foods I ALWAYS Have Organic
- dairy (cheese, milk)
The pesticides, antibiotics, hormones and other chemicals that these animals are exposed to accumulate in their tissues, for the most part in their fat. If they eat it, so do we.
Fruits & Vegetables
The Environmental Working Group (EWG), a US health and environmental research organisation has put together a couple of lists called The Clean 15 and Dirty Dozen. They are useful guidelines that can actually reduce your exposure to pesticides by almost 90 percent. Although these are lists based on farming in the USA, the non-organic practices in Australia are similar so for the most part this content is a good “guideline”.
The Dirty Dozen Fruits & Vegetables List:
- apples *
- peaches *
- nectarines *
- grapes *
- celery *
- cucumbers *
- lettuce *
- kale (newly added)
- carrots *
- broccoli *
- pears *
- zucchini * (newly added)
* added to the list because they relate to Australia in particular.
In general fruits that have a thin, delicate, skin are extremely unprotected and are exposed to a medley of chemicals used in farming. Peaches, apples, grapes, blueberries and nectarines are an example and are considered one of the most “dirty” fruits if non-organic.
Unfortunately even scrubbing the skins of fruits such as apples does not remove all of the chemical residue and peeling the skins off removes valuable nutrients found in the skin. It is a similar story with vegetables. Vegetables such as celery, spinach, kale and capsicum either have thin or no protective skins which make them more vulnerable to the effects of toxic chemicals.
A sad side note about grapes. Their thin skins do not protect them from chemicals and sadly this extends to wine as well. Studies have shown that up to 34 different pesticides can be found in wine. Sigh!
The Clean Fifteen Fruits & Vegetables List:
- sweet corn
- peas (frozen)
- sweet potatoes
Fruits and vegetables on the Clean 15 list need minimal exposure to chemicals in order to thrive. Low concentrations of pesticide residues have been found on these vegetables.
How can you reduce exposure to pesticides and chemicals found in food?
- Ensure that you consume purified water.
- Grow your own vegetables using organic methods.
- Help your body detoxify well and remove chemicals by nourishing your gut flora. Click Here to find out how.
- Move your bowels every day to help remove inflammatory toxins.
- Buy organic or chemical free foods from your local farmers markets. They are often cheaper and if you purchase at the end of the day you may be able to snag a better price.
- Wash fruit and vegetables thoroughly using a fruit/veg wash. I use EnviroClean by EnviroCare.
- Peel non-organic vegetables and fruit or remove the outer leaf layers.
- Trim visible fat from non organic meats as most of the toxins live in fat.
- Enjoy some meat free days.
If you are time poor, buy fresh, local, organic or chemical free produce online from ethical companies.
The online food produce company I personally use and highly recommend to patients is Ooooby. Ooooby is an acronym for Out of Our Own BackYards. Oooby finds local, seasonal, organic or chemical free foods and deliver it straight to your door. Aside from being highly affordable I appreciate knowing how much I spend on groceries weekly which helps me budget well.
I simply love their ethics as they ensure all of those involved in the supply of the fresh produce are fairly rewarded and that farmers get 50% of the total retail value. There is also a note in your box highlighting where the food has come from (location and grower), allowing a deeper connection and appreciation between consumer and farmer. It truly makes me feel great to support local businesses. It is win-win really as my loved ones and I benefit by eating well and it frees up valuable time that I can spend doing the things I love.
As you can see there is a lot to consider when prioritising what foods should be organic. I have not even touched on fish; farmed, genetically engineered versus wild and sustainable. This topic is big enough to be it’s own blog post.
My parting words to you are, rather than let this information generate fear within you, let it empower you to make better choices for your health and remember that humans do not live in a sterile bubble. We like to socialize from time to time where we may not have control over what is dished up for us. However if you do your best where you can, your body and mind can allow for a few sneaky toxic culprits and will be in better condition to deal with any harmful side effects should they occur.
Lynda is a fully qualified Naturopath and Nutritionist with over 13 years of experience in the health industry.
Lynda specialises in detoxification and weight loss. She has extensive experience in running healthy, effective and sustainable weight loss programs and has expertise in investigating and treating the underlying causes of weight gain and metabolic problems.
If you would like to book a consultation with Lynda, CLICK HERE