It’s impossible to walk through a grocery store these days without seeing the word organic on nearly every aisle. While most shoppers believe that foods labeled as ‘organic’ are better for their health, and perhaps a bit costlier, this isn’t always the case because, unfortunately, not all labels are created equal.
Truly organic foods are meant to limit the number of synthetic materials used during production, thus providing consumers with cleaner, ‘whole’ food alternatives, but in order to find truly organic foods, and keep a few coins in your wallet, you have to know what to look for. Read on for 12 Dos and Don’ts of Going Organic to Help You Eat Healthier, Shop Smarter, and Save Money While Doing It.
12 Dos and Don’ts of Going Organic:
DO Look for USDA Certified Organic Products-
While there are a great number of packages on the market that claim to be ‘organic’, the only foods that are guaranteed to be so are the foods labeled as USDA Certified Organic. Foods with this label have met a regulated set of criteria. If a package says anything else, it just isn’t organic. When shopping for organic produce, be sure to look for a 5-digit PLU number that begins with a 9.
DON’T Be Fooled by Misleading Labels-
The most important thing an organic shopper can do is to understand how to read the labels found on the food they purchase. Food manufacturers are becoming increasingly savvy when it comes to marketing techniques. Beware of foods labeled as ‘natural’ or just ‘organic’. Very often, these foods combine one or two natural or organic ingredients with a slew of synthetic components. Skinny Ms. has everything you need to know about decoding food labels.
DO Learn to Store Organic Food Properly- One of the things that makes organic produce so good for us is that it isn’t pumped full of preservatives, like other produce. This means that it has a much shorter shelf-life and will have to be stored properly to avoid spoilage. Learn which fruits and vegetables emit gases that will speed up the ripening of other produce and separate these items accordingly. For more information on how to properly store produce, click here.
It’s true. Organic foods tend to be a bit pricier than non-organic foods, but that doesn’t mean they need to break the bank. You can’t put a price tag on your health, and there are a number of ways to cut down the costs of going organic. While you should ALWAYS go organic when purchasing foods found on the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen, or foods with high levels of sythetic materials, some fruits and vegetables offer thick skins that prevent synthetic materials from entering the food. These have been dubbed the Clean 15 by the Environmental Working Group . You can save money by purchasing non-organic items from this list. Learn more about the Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 here.
DO Buy in Bulk When Possible-
The best way to cut down the cost of organic foods is to buy in bulk whenever possible. When it comes to organic produce, freeze to prevent spoilage. This will give you the opportunity to continue to enjoy out-of-season produce, and frozen fruits and veggies make for excellent smoothie ingredients. Try our Super Detox Green Smoothie!
DON’T Buy Organic Produce When It’s Out of Season-
Out-of-season produce tends to cost more because of shipping costs. Plus, lower availability means a greater demand, which in turn, drives the price up.
DO Plan Your Menus Ahead of Time-
Tossing unused food is wasteful in more ways than one. Avoid the possibility of food spoiling before you have a chance to eat it by planning each week’s meals ahead of time and by sticking to your shopping list. Have you tried any of our Skinny Recipes?
DON’T Overcook Organic Foods-
Organic foods are often loaded with the important vitamins and minerals your body needs to stay healthy and strong. Eat foods at the peak of ripeness to reap as many nutritional benefits as possible, and avoid overcooking them. The longer you cook foods, the fewer the number of nutrients there will be for you to enjoy.
DO Grow Your Own Organic Produce-
There’s no better way to ensure that you’re getting the most from your food and saving money than to grow your own! Start an organic vegetable garden and/or join a co-op. Not only does a home garden keep the pocket book heavier, gardening has also been said to have a positive impact on stress levels. Try our Garden Salad with homegrown ingredients!
DON’T Choose Organic Over Local Produce-
While local produce is not always organic, it can still offer your body and wallet some amazing rewards. Small, local growers use far fewer pesticides than larger growers. Learn more about the benefits of buying local here.
DO Understand the Benefits of Going Organic-
GMOs, pesticides, and rBGH have built themselves quite a home in our nation’s foods supply, and chronic illnesses have seen a measurable increase in the years since. Going organic allows us to monitor what we are putting into our bodies and helps us to ensure that our fuel comes from what nature intended. Organic food also helps to support sustainable methods, create healthier soil, air and water for the future, and most people think that organic food tastes better, too!
DON’T Fall Into the Trap of Thinking Organic Eating is All that is Important-
While going organic is a great first step in taking charge of your health, don’t fall into the trap of thinking that organic eating is all that is important. Devouring boxes of organic cookies will still lead to weight gain. Going organic does not mean you do not need to follow health rules. Regular exercise and a proper diet are still important to good health. Try one of our Top 10 Fitness Programs.