I get it – I do! Organic produce is more costly – and, frankly – it doesn’t look as good as conventionally grown produce. And, organic meat, eggs and diary are easily twice the price of conventionally raised items.
Most meat and protein products you find at a regular grocery store are CAFO raised. What is CAFO? It stands for Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations. You’ve seen feed lots where lots of animals are fed in close quarters. Most of them are fed grains (not natural to either cattle, pigs or chickens), given hormones and antibiotics. Most of those grains are either GMO – or, contaminated with pesticides.
Non-organic produce is grown with the use of pesticides in nutrient poor soil.
Bottomline, non-organic food is less nutritious! But, it IS better than prepackaged foods, sugary foods, or foods containing polyunsaturated fats (think vegetable oils).
So, unless you want to use your entire budget on organic foods – what do you do to improve the quality of the foods you eat.
- First – let’s shop the perimeter of the store. Stay away from the interior of the store. If you think about all the money you spend on packaged goods and cut those out of your diet – you will automatically have a bit more to spend on more quality and healthier products. Also, check with online coupon vendors (your store should also promote weekly specials) to save more.
- Second – check out your favorite warehouse store. I see more bulk organic food at Costco and Sam’s Club. Just make sure that it will be used before it goes bad. Buying less expensive organic produce and throwing it away is not a cost savings!
- Third – hit the farmers’ markets. Generally, you will more local food at a lower cost. Most of these farmers don’t have produce the is labeled ‘organic’ (too much red tape), however, many grow their products in more traditional ways. Talk to them and find out how the food is grown. And, to save more money – wait until closing time to perhaps get a better deal!
- Third – check out your local food co-op. This is a great place to score on organic and local sources of food. They may be a bit pricier – but, they are very good at securing quality food items.
Now a word of caution – beware of labels. If you are intent on buying organic such as the USDA Certified Organic label. Don’t fall for marketing hype as to ‘antibiotic free’, ‘raised without hormones’, ‘all-natural’ as they mean ABSOLUTELY nothing and the use of the label is not regulated. Even ‘grass-fed’ means nothing unless it says 100% grass-fed.
- So, what do you look for? Let’s look at meats and dairy first.
- Look for 100% grass fed first (or certified organic)
- Next best, grain finished.
- Last, grain-fed.
Now, as for produce…
- Look for local produce which is generally picked at a later date and is fresher. Local non-organic version may even have more nutrition than organic products flown in from Mexico.
- Stay seasonal – there is nothing worse than a store bought tomato in the middle of winter. So, while a lot of different produce is offered year round – stick with seasonal!
- Also, buy organic whenever possible when you eat these foods (Considered to be the ‘Dirty Dozen’ – although it is actually 14 now).
- Look out for the Clean Fifteen as well.
Stay healthy and eat well.