Today we see products and food labeled Organic just about everywhere, from your local farmer’s market, large chain grocer to airports and beyond. Organics, Natural, Free Range, Grass Fed…they seem to be big buzzwords on the rise. But what do they all mean?
This first installment of Organics will explore our food; how we buy it and what we are really consuming. We will give you research backed information as well as our family’s experience that we hope will help you make informed decisions that work best for you.
The second installment, Organics Too we will look at body care products and cleaning supplies.
To lessen our risk of exposure to potentially harmful substances, such as; preservatives, chemicals and hormones that are often used in conventional farming treatments.
Pesticides alone, have been linked to negative health effects of the nervous system, hormone or endocrine systems, irritating skin and eyes, and may be carcinogens.
At this point, there is no denying or hiding that chemical pesticides used to grow conventional food pollute our earth and water supply…then how can it not be doing the same to our bodies?
We find that most people understand and support organic practices but have a difficult time getting beyond the number at the bottom of the receipt.
No doubt, food is a large expense! Years ago while making a larger switch over to organics, we took a long look at our monthly outflow of money spent on food and were awestruck! While our family certainly loves food and we have a houseful of hungry little boys, our monthly food bills were edging up towards our mortgage payment. Yikes.
So how do you balance these expenses and what is most important to buy organic? Because where and how we spend our money matters.
To help find balance, let’s first look at the foods that are considered the “dirty dozen” and the foods coined the “clean fifteen.” Now this list has certainly had changes to it over the years so it is important to find a current list. We have always used EWG’s list for this purpose. They are a reliable company with loads of databases and research that have our best health in interest.
When shopping for produce, you will have noticed little numbered stickers stuck to your individually sold fruit and veggies. These are called PLU (price look-up) labels and understanding what the PLU numbers mean on that little sticker will help you make informed decisions as well. These labels are coded with either a 4 or 5 digit numbers. The PLU codes are designed voluntarily by the International Federation for Produce Standards (IFPS). Keep in mind they are not regulated to label GMO products but this helps give us some guidelines. Heres what they mean:
Ever wonder what the label really means when it says Natural, Cage-free, Free-range, Hormone-free, Wild-caught, Farmed-fish, and so on? Check out this comprehensive explanation on how to decode these labels for your meat and dairy products.
A big answer for our family has been our local Farmer’s Markets. If you are fortunate enough to have a farmer’s market, local organic farm, organic co-op or CSA nearby, visit and get to know them. Their prices are very often lower than you will find in your retail stores and our experiences have been wonderful. They are people caring about your food and our planet right in your own community. Supporting them by buying their fresh, clean food is a win-win for everyone.
Let’s start with organic farmers. I tend to view them as the under-valued good guys. By growing our food with non GMO seed, no pesticides that poison our land, air and water supply, they not only have an appreciation for our earth’s future but also our bodies wellness. How could we not like these guys?!
It is also becoming more common to see farmers selling pasture raised and free range poultry as well as grass fed and finished meat at local farmer’s markets.
No matter where you are buying your meat, check out EWG’s latest guide here to help you best avoid superbugs and unnecessary antibiotics when choosing your meat products.
One other way we have tried to offset our cost with both our most eaten foods and those that are on the dirty dozen list is to grow those particular foods.
You don’t need a big garden or even a yard at all to grow some food. You can grow an assortment of lettuces and herbs right inside a window or sweet potatoes in a container right outside your door. I highly recommend Mel Bartholomew’s ‘All New Square Foot Gardening’ techniques. This really helped us learn and simplify our growing efforts.
And you can check out information about composting here.
Contact your local Extension Center or check online for what foods grows best in your zone and when to plant.
…you, me, we all do what we can without judgement. Choose what is most important and begin making your shift. Organics can be expensive and it is true that we vote every time we make a purchase. This is simple supply and demand but don’t beat yourself up if you can’t do it all, like buying that organic free range meat, eggs or butter. There is someone that can and does and when you find yourself in a position to add new organics, do!
Focusing on what we can do rather than what we can’t is a whole lot healthier!
Here's to Your Total Wellness!
See Organics Too for information on body and cleaning products.