I needed a nice lentil stew today. I’ve been sick and the Ontario winter dumped a little more snow last night. As I was adding all the vegetables I thought about the taste and quality of what I was making, and then I was compelled to draft this up while I was eating my yummy stew. I hear the comment often that organic is too expensive. It does cost more, but the more consumers buy the better the pricing will become. I have noticed a huge drop in the last 10 years. Bananas, for example, are often close to the same price at my local store. But there is a mindset. You need to want to eat organic, and then figure out how you can. It’s like saving for a trip and giving up dinners out, or making your own coffee instead of stopping daily at your favourite drive-through to add money to a savings plan. So here’s a few tips to get you started on being a savvy organic food shopper.
Start with the Dirty Dozen Only switch over these food that are highly treated with pesticides, herbicides, and other chemicals. I would strongly recommend adding any soy products to this list due to the high amount of GMO’s found in soy production. You will notice the ‘Clean Fifteen’ generally are produce with thicker skin so the toxins can’t get through to the interior flesh quite so easily.
Grow Your Own Grab a few flower pots, make a raised garden bed, or even grow vegetables in your flower gardens as annuals. Herbs, tomatoes, lettuces, spinach, rainbow chard are all excellent plants to fill in spots in the garden and provide wonderful produce of your own. I’m going to try this summer a cool idea I saw to recycle a skid into a vertical planter you simply lean against your fence. How about this idea where it becomes a small privacy fence? Adorable and practical!
Buy in Season If you shop at your local grocery retailer, or at farmer’s markets buy in season. You can freeze, can, or even buy preserves at a farm market if you don’t have time or desire to make your own. There are so many great tips for storing produce. I freeze entire bunches of parsley and cilantro. They chop up perfectly even when still frozen to add to cooking. I also freeze ginger root, semi-thaw it and cut off what I need. Many other herbs can also be chopped up in ice cube trays, filled with water and frozen.
Here is a link to a seasonal product guide. This will help you plan meals around available produce, but also save on energy costs to transport long distances in off-season and enjoy better tasting produce because it is harvested at the right time. The Bountiful Year
Buy Frozen Produce like strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, peas, and many other fruits store well frozen. They are harvested at peak freshness, flash frozen to lock in flavour and nutrients, and generally cheaper to purchase than fresh. Read the labels to be sure they are free of added salt or sugar.
There are other ways to save with meal planning, and storage, but this is a start. Remember that it’s little steps. What resonates best with you from the ideas above? The real expense in not eating organic is the cost to the environment and your health. Traditional farming depletes the nutrients from the soil, which results in crops having less, or even missing nutrients. I recently read that you have to eat 43 cups of spinach grown traditionally now to get the nutritional equivalent of 1 cup produced in the 1950’s. I also take a Greens supplement daily to ensure I am getting a full spectrum of nutrients even though I eat a lot of vegetables. Take one step today towards eating organic produce and your future self with thank you.