As a wellness doctor, it’s no surprise that I’m a passionate advocate for organic foods, and encourage all my patients to choose fresh, unprocessed, organic foods to nourish their bodies. While the higher nutrient contents, lack of pesticides and better taste of organics can’t be denied, occasionally a patient has an issue with the higher cost of all that good nutrition. So, how to integrate organic foods into your life without breaking the bank? Learn to shop strategically and keep the following in mind:
- Keep it lean.
- Think small.
- Mix it up a little.
- Hit the farmer’s market first.
- Know what’s “dirty” and what’s not.
Although I recommend grass fed meats and organic poultry, as a less-costly alternative, choose the leanest cuts of meat available and poultry raised without hormones and antibiotics. Be sure to remove poultry skin when preparing because toxins are stored in the fat.
Use meat and poultry sparingly – think of them as an accent to meals rather than the centerpiece. Keep meat or poultry portions small, serving no more than 3 oz. at a sitting. The 3 oz. portion is comparable in size to a deck of cards, so there will be plenty of room left on the plate to fill with leafy greens, healthy vegetables and whole grains.
Buy fresh foods whenever possible—the fresher the food, the more nutritious. Fresh foods are better than frozen foods, but frozen foods are better than canned foods. In general, you can cut your pesticide load and costs significantly by combining equal parts fresh produce with frozen. This is particularly handy for those of us who a love fruit smoothies for breakfast!
Before you head to the supermarket, see what’s available at the local farmer’s market. Often the prices will be less than or comparable to the supermarket versions, and the locally-farmed organics won’t have traveled half way around the world to reach you.
The Environmental Working Group creators of the “Dirty Dozen” list which i.d.’s the most pesticide-laced, conventionally grown produce on the market, has recently introduced the “Clean 15,” their roundup of produce items grown with the fewest number of pesticides. For cost-conscious, healthy eaters, the Clean 15 can serve as an informal guide to which non-organic items are reasonably safe to eat. Among the items that made the Clean 15 list: onions, avocados, pineapples, mangoes, asparagus, sweet peas, eggplant, bananas, cabbage, watermelon and broccoli. To download a printable Dirty Dozen/Clean Fifteen list, click to www.foodnews.org.