Last week the task for #HealthyHabits2017 was to shop organic on a budget. Organic food is defined as being grown without the use of man-made pesticides and fertilisers, growth regulators and livestock additives. The use of genetic modification (GMO foods) is also prohibited in Organic food production.
Now I've always personally not been very fussed about buying Organic in the past, when I ate meat we tried to buy good meat knowing where it was from and just eating less of it. But as far as fruits/veggies and other produce it just seems a bit over priced and comes across as a privileged or luxury thing that isn't entirely necessary to me.
I remember the first time I did notice the flavour being off on a fresh item, the preservative - sulphur dioxide - used on grapes, is what is used in photographic chemicals in the darkroom! And it has a very distinct smell. All fruits and veg should be washed before consuming but grapes definitely need a little extra something.
Now one of the things that annoys me is that you frequently hear that organic produce is healthier for you or better for you, but no one ever tells you why or what is bad about the manufacture of conventional produce.
Each country has their own acceptable limits on pesticide reside. And the World Health Organisation has a little description about pesticides here where you can read a bit more. 'Pesticides are chemicals used in agriculture to protect crops against insects, fungi, weeds and other pests. In addition to their use in agriculture, pesticides are also used to protect public health in controlling the vectors of tropical diseases, such as mosquitoes.
But pesticides are also potentially toxic to humans. They may induce adverse health effects including cancer, effects on reproduction, immune or nervous systems. Before they can be authorized for use, pesticides should be tested for all possible health effects and the results should be analysed by experts to assess any risks to humans.'
Essentially eating Organic can lower the amount of chemicals you can load onto your body, and while studies are still developing on the actual effects of long term consumption of chemical residue, we know that vast quantities aren't great, so what's the harm in lowering that intake?
Organic produce can also contain up to 70% more antioxidants than their conventional counterparts, the fertilisers used in general crop production allow fruit and veg to grow faster however it has been found that this sped up growth doesn't allow for proportional antioxidant development.
HOW DID IT GO?
Now, over the last week I haven't actually had the need to do a food shop so this weeks challenge came at a silly time. However I have done my research in order to do it, and picked up on a few tips that can help out anyone shopping on a budget because it can be done.
So, here are some things that can help if you want to incorporate Organic into your life, but on a budget:
- You can buy reduced products nearing their best before date. You have to eat them quick or freeze them but this can save you money. Most things still have a lot of life left in them as well even though they've been reduced.
- You can visit a local farm shop or farmers market to get fresh produce and have the opportunity to barter.
- You might be able to order Organic fruit and veg boxes, supermarkets offer them as well as farms or companies that specialise in Organic food.
- Some things don't need to be Organic, if you get a fruit or a vegetable with a skin you don't eat, it doesn't make a difference being non-organic. However things like berries, leaves and other fruits & veg you eat the skin of - then it might be worth the swap.
- Genetically modified food isn't bad for you so there's no need to avoid it. Scientists are even working at making GMO foods that are even healthier for us. Plus GMO crops need to prove that they are as nutrient dense as their counterparts.
- Don't be fooled by size, shape or colour.
- Organic doesn't always mean it's 100% Organic so look for certification if it's what you're after.
- It's probably most worth investing in animal products that are organic as animals are often given antibiotics and chemicals that you don't necessarily want to be consuming yourself.
- And if you can't afford or aren't near a place where it's easy to get Organic food, we'd recommend making an at home pesticide wash: The linked recipe recommends mixing lemon juice, water and bicarbonate of soda in a spray bottle, you can also use vinegar and water and letting food soak before chowing down.
Image by Andrew B Myers