Food is our biggest expense. Maybe we eat a lot. Maybe we’re food snobs. Maybe food is just incredibly expensive. Perhaps, it’s a combination of all of those things and more. Nonetheless, I’m trying to lower my monthly food budget, and I’m not willing to replace healthy foods with junk food to accomplish it.
I buy a lot of organic foods, mainly so I know they’re not genetically modified, but also to avoid chemical pesticides and other toxins. It’s not possible for me to buy everything organic, so I buy what I can organic and either skip other things or buy them conventionally grown. There is a better way to decide what to buy organic though, at least as far as produce is concerned.
Have you ever heard of the “Dirty Dozen” list or the “Clean 15″ list? The Environmental Working Group has a “Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce” that lists the top 12 produce items with the most pesticide residues and the 15 produce items with the least amount of pesticide residues. You can find it free at www.EWG.org
For example, did you know that apples are ranked #1 on the “Dirty Dozen” list? Onions are #1 on the “Clean 15″ list. Using that guide, I know that I need to buy organic apples, but I don’t necessarily need to buy my onions organic.
The EWG’s Shopper’s Guide is only for produce though. It won’t tell you that non-organic butter is the single most contaminated food overall. It also won’t tell you that the pesticides on the foods that animals eat like to hang around in their bodies, get stored in their fat, and are excreted in their milk. Nonetheless, it’s a valuable tool for your organic versus conventional produce choices if you’re concerned about pesticides.
What’s worse than pesticides though is genetically modified (cloned) “foods”. I use the term “food” loosely here. Thank God there’s a guide for that, too. The Non-GMO Shopping Guide is an invaluable little booklet that helps you steer clear of gmo’s. They’re in practically every packaged food there is that isn’t organic, which is the main reason why I buy organic: to avoid gmo’s.
You can download the non-gmo shopping guide for free at www.NonGMOShoppingGuide.com The guide also lists brands that are enrolled in the non-gmo project.
With that information, I was able to see that since Kettle brand (not “kettle style”) potato chips are gmo-free, I don’t have to buy organic potato chips when we occasionally splurge on junk food. Gmo-free is fine by me for an occasional treat.
One more incredibly helpful bit of information for avoiding gmo’s and/or determining if your produce is organic, conventionally grown, or genetically modified (cloned) is found at www.marksdailyapple.com/cracking-the-code/
It lets you know what those little stickers with the PLU code on your produce mean. For example, a 4-digit code on the sticker means it’s conventionally grown with chemical assistance, a five-digit code that begins with a 9 pertains to organically grown produce, and a five-digit code beginning with the number 8 applies only to genetically engineered (cloned) items.
Of course I will advocate organic as much as possible. It’s clearly the best for both your body and the environment, but if you can only afford to buy some organics, it’s important to have the information to make an educated decision regarding what to splurge on for organic and what not to fret too much about if you buy it conventional.
Article by Randi Millward