How to start buying organic produce without taking out a second mortgage

Red bell pepper-better bought organic

We started adding organic food to our diet about a year ago.  It was pretty painful at first, to be honest.  But I felt that there were so many sources of bad things in our environment (you DO NOT want to know-ugh) I had no control over, I could at least control some of the bad things we were injesting.

The reason it was so painful to switch over to organic food was mostly because of cost.  It seems that organic food is grown with naturally occuring sticker shock.  Since the research has yet to provide a concrete cause and effect relationship with pesticides and human disease, it was hard to justify the additional expense.  (I remind myself that DDT was declared safe until the day it was banned.)  It just seems logical to me that eating substances that are meant to KILL living things (bugs, weeds, etc) are not healthy, especially for little growing bodies.  And I try very hard to remember that when I stand  in the store deciding between the 99 cent bell pepper and the $4 bell pepper.  And the $4 one don’t look as pretty as the 99 cent one, either.

So, I started small.  I used the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen list as a basis.  They list the foods that are the dirtiest (most pesticide residue) and the cleanest (least pesticide residue).  By just purchasing the ‘Dirty Dozen’ organically, it reduces a person’s pesticide exposure by a lot.  I made a bit of a leap and decided that processed foods should correspond–since apples were one of the most pesticide ridden foods, I decided that apple juice and things like apple sauce should be organic.  But tomatoes (which fall in the middle) and their products didn’t have to be.  (Research indicates that once peels have been removed, there is a lot less pesticide residue, so this is just my personal preference, not necessarily based on research).

One thing we hadn’t expected was that organic produce tastes so much better then non-organic.  I don’t know why.  There has been research done that shows that organic produce can have higher levels of certain nutrients in it (like lycopene), so that may be part of the reason the taste is different.  I just know that my children REQUEST organic brussle sprouts.  What kid does that?  Wierdos.

If you want to start somewhere with switching to organic produce, the EWG’s list is a managable place to do it.

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