In these tough economic times, many people are looking for ways to cut spending. My family has already made sacrifices for me to stay at home but there is one aspect of our budget we haven’t touched: our grocery bill. I admit to being oblivious to the price of food – and because I buy mostly organic produce and dairy products – our monthly food bills can be quite high.
I originally decided to buy organic fruits and vegetables because there are questions about the effects of pesticides on babies’ and children’s growing immune and nervous systems. And compared to other food products, fresh fruits and vegetables contain the majority of the pesticides people consume.
But as I did more research, I found smarter, more cost effective ways to shop for organic produce.
Not all produce is created equal. According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), some conventional produce contains higher levels of pesticides and chemical residues than others. This list shows you when produce is worth the price of organic and when you might want to consider going conventional.
In general, produce with thick skins that are only eaten after peeling, like avocados, tends to be lower in chemicals than produce with thinner skins. The top 5 offenders are peaches, apples, sweet bell peppers, celery and nectarines while the “cleanest” produce includes onions, avocados, sweet corn, pineapples and mangos.
According to the EWG, people who eat 12 of the most contaminated fruits and vegetables end up consuming 10 different pesticides daily, on average, compared to just under 2 in the 15 least-contaminated produce items.
Try out Your Local Farmers’ Market. Finding the right Farmers’ Market is like winning the food lottery. You save money as well as getting to know your local farmers. And even though not all the farmers have certified organic produce, most farm without the use pesticides. All you have to do is ask.
Get Organic Deals. If you look for deals, you will find them. Stores like Whole Foods are offering coupons on their organic produce. Take advantage of companies helping you save money!
And stores like Trader Joes always offer lower prices. Try some of their frozen organic fruits and veggies at reduced prices.
We’ll talk much more about buying organic in the coming weeks. The next blog post on buying organic will discuss the pros and cons of buying organic dairy and meat products. And if you haven’t already, Subscribe to Raise Healthy Eaters by email or our RSS feed on the homepage.