Kitchen Tips Live and Learn

Saving on Organics

We all know organic fruits and vegetables do a body good. By buying organic you’re making a choice to lessen your exposure to pesticides and genetically modified organisms. Studies have shown that genetically modified foods may even be contributing to the food allergy epidemic we are currently experiencing.

There are a multitude of reasons to buy organic, but the extra cost at the grocery store is definitely a big reason not to.  I’ve seen organics 3 times the price of their conventional counterpart. It definitely is a turn off, but it doesn’t have to prevent us from choosing organics all together. It is possible to eat organics without breaking the bank–here’s how we do it…

Get to know the Dirty Dozen and the Clean Fifteen.

The Dirty Dozen are the worst offenders. According to the Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit organization that analyzes the results of government pesticide testing in the U.S., the following 12 fruits and vegetables have the highest pesticide levels on average. Because of their high pesticide levels when conventionally grown, it is best to buy these organic:

  • Apples
  • Bell Peppers
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Cherries
  • Grapes
  • Kale
  • Lettuce
  • Nectarines
  • Peaches
  • Pears
  • Strawberries

The Clean Fifteen are the least offenders – those foods you can get away with buying conventionally because on average they contain the least amount of pesticides when grown conventionally. Most you’ll notice have thicker skins or rinds that protect them from pests, which in turn require less pesticides.  You should still always wash your fruits and vegetables well with a vegetable wash – even melons!

  • Asparagus
  • Avocado
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Corn
  • Eggplant
  • Kiwi
  • Mango
  • Onion
  • Papaya
  • Pineapple
  • Peas
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Tomatoes
  • Watermelon

Shop at farmer’s markets or farm stands. Shop around and find out which grower has the best deals on your favorite foods.  Not only will you be buying the freshest produce available, picked when it’s ripe for improved nutritional value, but you can feel good about buying directly from the local growers and saving a little money.  You’ll also be introduced to amazing new foods and varieties not available in your supermarket which will help your kids be more adventurous about trying new foods.

Join a CSA. Community supported agriculture allows you to buy a share in a farm up front and in return they will provide you with a steady supply of beautiful, organic, sticker-less produce at a reduced price.

Buy what’s fresh, in season and on sale.  This one requires some waiting – especially for fruit, but you’ll find its worth it – in taste and money. When you find a deal, buy extra and freeze it.

Put it up.  Come summer and early fall, set aside a weekend or two for canning and freezing.  Keep your eye out for deals on your favorite fruit and make some amazing jam. Freeze berries when they are ripe, abundant and cheap. Dry herbs or freeze them when they are abundant.

Pick ’em yourself.  Perhaps there’s a wild patch of berries near you.  If you’re luck enough to live in the pacific northwest, you can count on every August being prime berry picking season.  Another option is going to a farm and picking them yourself – we’re lucky to have “You Pick” farms all around us for strawberries, raspberries, black berries and even kiwis.

Grow it.  A little lettuce and herbs can make their way into any garden of any size. Since leafy greens absorb pesticides directly into the leaves we eat, it’s extra important to eat these organic.

Don’t let the price of organics prevent you from providing the best for your family. With a bit of planning and smart shopping, anyone can afford to eat organic.


Until next time,  Lisa



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