Are All Organics Created Equal?
My younger brother is a professional motorcycle rider. He has traveled for the past 15 years, temporarily staying with families of the racing community while pursuing his passion.
I was about 17 when he came home after spending a month in Texas with a generous family who housed him while he trained. This family apparently subsisted entirely on organic products.
He came home with a burning desire to eat “all organic”. We HAD to eat organic to be healthy. He preached it’s benefits up and down and how much better he felt eating “all organic”.
Us + Organic food = healthy. Right?
I remember my family pressing him for clarification on WHAT he ate specifically that was so healthy.
ORGANIC …raisin bran
You can imagine the hilarity that ensued after my mother bought box after box of organic Raisin Bran for this child. It was all my brother ate when we were around. We teased him then and continue to give him servings of all-organic grief today about his short-lived organic Raisin Bran kick.
This story perfectly paints the struggle of the everyday American trying to be healthy.
The way I see it,
You might be one of two people:
Organi-curious– You want to eat healthy. You know eating organic food is good for you but you can’t figure out if those organic ice cream cones are worth the $9.99 or if they are truly going to give you god-like abs.
Organi-phobe– You think organic food is too expensive and you have decided against “wasting” your money on a label. An apple is an apple is an apple, right?
I am confronted with this confusion often as a Health Coach. Here is my take on these two confused individuals.
Let’s set the stage:
The Organi-curious individual says to me, “You eat all organic, right?”
Ah. Yes. Well, Sometimes. Short answer, YES.
The world of organic food isn’t black and white, yes or no. There is a big confusing, fuzzy gray area that people find themselves lost in when walking through the grocery store. It raises the question,
“Do I have to buy everything organic?”
Organic means better for you but that doesn’t necessarily mean good for you in and of itself. Remember: cocaine and heroin are technically organic.
Wow extreme example. Disclaimer: I do not endorse the use of cocaine and/or heroin, no matter HOW organic they are.
The organi-phobe might say, “I just can’t eat like that. It’s too expensive!”
This is a good one. I hear this excuse from friends, family members and clients alike.
YES, it is an excuse.
Hear me out.
You have to buy food anyway, right? I mean, you gotta eat.
You have a choice between chemically laden products that could potentially increase your risk of health complications, or a product that is free of pesticides, herbicides and other man made chemicals*.
*I should mention that I am referring to PRODUCE here. Fruits and vegetables that don’t come in a package or box.
If you want to choose organic cereal, cake, candy and soda for your family, you will certainly pay out the ass for those products. Yes, the ingredients used to make these products are “cleaner”, but organic sugar is still sugar. Lets be real, people. *
Sometimes, the cleaner, organic option IS MORE expensive than it’s pesticide filled counterpart.
So how do you make the most educated choice that is also easy on your wallet?
Ah, I’m glad you asked.
My (not so) secret shopping weapon:
This is the list of produce ranked by pesticide residue data. The dirty dozen (plus) is the list of produce you should always buy organic. The clean fifteen is the list of produce that tested the least amount of pesticide residue, therefore you do NOT have to buy them organic.
Here is what I recommend:
- Become familiar with the list! Recognize the products your family consumes the most and purchase accordingly.
- Choose produce from both lists each week to stretch your dollar
- Focus your attention on organic produce and meats vs. organic processed packaged foods and SAVE
- Befriend your local farmer! Buying seasonal and local produce can make ALL the difference in taste and quality. Plus, you are able to ask the farmer himself about the growing process on his farm.
Now! I want to hear from YOU!
Do you use the Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen List when you shop?
Did this post provide some clarity for you regarding organic shopping?
Leave me a comment below and tell me all about it! I’d love to hear from you!
If you are still confused and need some more help reading labels, decoding health claims and navigating the grocery store, shoot me a message over at Sam@nourishingnomswithsam.com with your Name, Email and tell me whats on your mind!