Savoring Your Groceries

25 Mar

With a background in natural and organic products, I felt that it was high time I shared with you some of the resources I use in buying groceries. Although I’ve done  a lot of research on the topic, I am no registered dietitian or organic farmer. In the end, you have to make your own choices about what you consume and what’s best for you.

Savoring Your Groceries: How to Buy Organic without Spending Your Whole Paycheck

  • See Food, Inc. It will change the way you think about food forever.
  • You don’t have to buy everything organic to eat healthy. Everything is a trade-off. Is it better to buy the 100% organic tomato that’s been shipped to your grocer over 2,000 miles, or is it better to buy the non-organic tomato from your local farmer’s market? The first has used a lot of carbon-emitting fuel to get to you, and the second may have been sprayed with pesticides that can be harmful to you and the earth. Either way, you have to make that choice. It’s optimal if you can  buy local and organic, but we don’t always have that choice.

Dairy

  • Since commercial farmers feed their cows grain instead of grass, a lot of our commercial dairy products are seriously lacking in nutrients and vitamins. Animal’s bodies are not evolved to tolerate grain, and so they develop internal abscesses and bacteria (sorry for the visual) that commercial farmers treat with antibiotics. Antibiotics are causing resistance to our modern medicine, which may make certain infections and illnesses untreatable in the near future.
  • Visit this website Where is my Milk From? where you can put the code on the back of your milk, soy milk, ice cream, coffee creamer, yogurt, etc. to find out where your dairy comes from.
  • Eggs: It’s hard to stomach, but a commercial chicken sits in a dark room filled with hundreds of thousands of other chickens, often with it’s beak cut off (so it doesn’t peck others) and can barely stand on it’s own legs due to the overwhelming amount of growth hormones it’s been given to make it bigger and thus, more profitable. Although many eggs are stamped “cage-free” this may only mean that the chicken gets to go outside for less than an hour a day, or just sits in a slightly larger cage. The good news is that about 2/3 of  eggs labeled “cage-free” are also certified humane (not given antibiotics, or hormones and raised outside in the open air with plenty of room), but you can only be sure if there if the carton says Certified Humane.
  • Although it’s a bit more expensive, I highly recommend eating organic dairy products, because you can be assured that the animals are treated much better, you’ll consume more of the good stuff (probiotics, vitamins, minerals) and less of the bad (antibiotics, hormones).

Fruit & Vegetables

  • Organic experts have made a list for consumers that makes buying fruits and veggies really easy! It’s called the “Dirty Dozen”, and it’s a list of things we should all buy organically, because these fruits and veggies have the highest pesticide load, and therefore contain harmful chemicals which have been linked to cancer, allergies and pollution problems.
  • Foods You Should Always Buy Organic: Peaches, Apples, Bell Peppers, Celery, Nectarines, Strawberries, Cherries, Kale, Leafy Greens, Imported Grapes (domestic ones usually have less pesticide residue) Carrots, Pears, Potatoes (this is debatable, but in addition to pesticides, fungicides are also added to the soil a potato grows in. To me, this just means double the pesticide, so I buy organic.)
  • My general rule of thumb: If I don’t peel off the skin to eat it, or if the skin is very thin, I try to buy organic. If something has very thick skin (oranges, cucumbers, bananas) I can save some money by buying commercial.
  • Best bet: Try to eat as seasonally as possible (it’s tougher depending on where you live, right now, all that’s in season in snowy Colorado are pinto beans and potatoes) and visit your local farmer’s market when summer hits, or think about joining in on a CSA (community-shared agriculture) where you give local farmers money up front and get a yield of whatever grows that season)

Meat

  • I think we all have a basic idea of where our meat comes from, and what kind of conditions commercial farming creates for animals, it’s just easier not to think about.
  • My position on meat is that I can’t really justify being a vegetarian for animal welfare reasons while still consuming dairy. (Same horrible treatment of animals, just not eating their actual body). A plant-based diet with small amounts of Omega-3-rich fish has been shown to be optimal for many cultures around the world (think Mediterranean and Japanese diets). At the end of the day, I just don’t know if I’m ready to go 100% vegan. With so many options for humanely-raised meat and dairy out there, I think we can still solve the problem of the commercial feedlot system while still consuming meat (although it may mean that Americans will have to eat less).
  • Best bets: Look for grass-fed and 100% organic for meat. For fish, know as much as you can. Overfishing has caused huge environmental damage; including species extinction (Most sushi is made from blue-fin tuna, which stands to be gone by 2012 if we continue our fishing practices) and sea-bed damage. Fish caught from certain regions will be over fished depending on which species there are. If you do buy farm-raised fish, make sure it’s organic.

Most importantly: Eat REAL food most of the time. Although I am a sour-candy queen, I am slowly learning to leave it for special occasions. The less, more-pronounceable ingredients, the better.

In the words of my favorite  food expert, Michael Pollan: “Eat food, mostly plants, not too much.”

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One Response to “Savoring Your Groceries”

  1. Kori March 27, 2010 at 2:56 pm #

    Hey Lady!! Thanks for the tips on the eggs. All humane certified from now on for sure. Here’s an article I thought you might find interesting:

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