When I talk to people about healthy foods and nutrition, I often get an “I just can’t afford it” response. This is a common notion because the price tags on organic products are indeed higher. However, it is important to point out that a) there are longer term consequences and hard costs that result from eating the “regular” products, and b) by eliminating the unhealthy foods from the shopping cart and reducing the amount of eating out, there is money freed up to by the good stuff and c) there are practical ways to manage higher quality foods and to fit them into your budget.
One very helpful resource is the Environmental Working Group’s Pesticide Guide. This shows you exactly where your money is best spent on organic fruits and vegetables and where buying conventional is OK. Carry this handy guide in your purse or wallet until you have it memorized. They even update it every year with the latest data. You can visit their website at www.foodnews.org to get the full list.
Back to the health consequences of our diets, eating foods high in herbicides and pesticides is linked with toxicities, migraines, allergies, ADD/ADHD, neurological conditions, hormone dysfunction, immune suppression, etc. In a 2005 study measuring the levels of two organophosphate pesticides that have been linked to harmful neurological effects, a dramatic decrease was shown immediately after introducing organic food items. This is encouraging in that changes have immediate benefits. Non-organic produce is also less nutritious in terms of the vitamin and mineral content. This EWG guide is a practical way to start making changes- a roadmap if you will.
One irreducible minimum when it comes to food is meats. It is absolutely imperative to change the meats that you eat. Everyone should be eating free-range chicken and grass fed organic beef. Conventional meats are raised under inhumane conditions, injected almost continuously with antibiotics and hormones, and fed pesticide loaded grains. Did you know that it takes 100 pounds of pesticide sprayed grain to produce 1 pound of ground beef? Frightening, isn’t it? Here’s another scary fact- the latest news is that beef will be irradiated and/or cloned and, guess what, no labeling required. We won’t even have the option of knowing what we are eating! I will go into more detail about meats in an upcoming newsletter but just know that this is an area that just should not be compromised. Even if you don’t buy one organic fruit or vegetable, buy your meat organic (grass fed beef, free range chicken)! You will get the greatest bang for your buck by doing so.
I am willing to pay more for this type of meat because honestly, I can’t afford not to. I consider where I put my money to be a vote. The more votes healthy, organic, unadulterated foods get, the more the food industry will have to listen and the healthier Americans will become!