The word organic has to be one of the hottest buzz words to ever exist in human language. That one word can jack up the price of food several dollars, and we don't question what it is we're paying for because "It's organic!" The fact that organic food sales rise year over year is proof that the perception is prevalent.
However, are you really getting the best bang for your buck by paying these prices? Let's take a look today on Food Myth Friday!
What's so good about organic anyhow?
Well, there are plenty of truths that buying from the "natural" or "organic" section can be a boon to your health.
Organic growing is more environmentally friendly. That means the biome as a whole will benefit. You'll find more plants, other than the organic ones being grown, and animals that would naturally occur in a home farm situation.
Genetically modified (GM or GMO) are not allowed under the organic label.
Organic farming that includes animals tends to be more human. The animals are fed a natural diet and are expected to be kept in free-range conditions.
There are two prevailing opinions about organic foods. They either taste the same as conventionally raised products, or they taste better. So, there's really no downside to taste here.
The number one reason that I'm writing last would be the fact that there are lower levels of pesticide residue. This is due to the limit on what chemicals can be used in order to certify food items as organic.
Ok, so what's the downside?
From the list above, really, the only organic items I tend to purchase are the processed foods: like tofu, Perfect Bars, Tempeh, and the like. They are minimally processed, yet processed nonetheless. Other than that, I grow what I want in my home garden!
So, what's the catch on organic foods?
Since organic food is organic, it doesn't contain any preservatives or undergo an irradiation process. This means that the shelf life of most organic foods is minimal. So, eat while the eatin's good!
That being said, organic food is usually more expensive across the board. It is grown in smaller batches, harvested differently, and costs more to produce. All this leads to a cost load on the consumer. When you couple it with a short shelf life, then you have a very costly loss should you let it devolve into veggie goo in your veggie drawer or if you fail to freeze your meats that you're not going to use immediately.
The other thing to look out for would be that there are naturally higher levels of bacteria on organic foods due to the limited chemicals used to grow them. Give them a good wash, and realize that not all of this bacteria is necessarily bad. It's just something to be aware of.
Like Hannah Montana, you can also have "The BEEEEEEEEEEEEST of Both Worlds!"
This is my life hack to buying natural and organic on the cheap. FROZEN!
That's right. Head on over to your freezer section. Here's why:
Frozen foods are often frozen directly after harvest. Thus their vitamins and minerals remain intact. Especially those that are sensitive to light and heat.
Foods that are frozen go through an agitation and washing process that knocks much of the surface pesticides off of the product.
Guess what? There are organic frozen fruits and veggies as well! These, like their conventional frozen counterparts, are cheaper than the fresh version.
It's all in the followthrough.
At the end of the day, eating your fruits and veggies take precedence over whether or not they were organic. As always, it's the diet you can stick to (financially or otherwise) that will end up doing you the best.
If you're worried about pesticides, a study by the USDA took samples of more than 27,000 food items and found that all of them were well within safe residue limits for adults. That is to say that if you're going to feed fresh fruits and veggies to your kiddos, make sure to give them an extra scrubbing. I prefer to do my cleaning in a watered-down vinegar solution with a veggie brush!
So, whether it's all-natural organic, fresh conventional, or frozen, just get out there and eat the diet that leads you to your goal self!