Yes, organic produce is more expensive, there is no denying that. Sometimes I catch myself comparing prices in the grocery store wishing that organic produce wasn’t double the price. Like most people with a limited disposable income, I want to make sure that I’m spending my money on things I really need. So, if you’re like me, here are five reasons why organic will improve your health.
1. More nutrients
Research has shown that organic fruits and vegetables can have up to three times more nutritional value than conventional (non-organic) produce (GOOP). Organic fruits and veggies have more nutrients because they’re grown in soil that hasn’t been depleted of all the important minerals and enzymes needed to make nutrient-dense foods (Harvard). Eating organic helps you get more of the important vitamins and minerals that you and your baby need.
2. Less chemicals
Did you know that at birth, over 200 different chemicals can be found in the baby’s umbilical cord and amongst other things, herbicides and pesticides from food were part of the mixture (EWG). These pesticides and other toxins can create health risks for babies. Many studies link pesticides to low birth weight, birth defects, neurological and behavioral problems, disrupted hormone function, autism, and cancer. If pesticides can cross the placenta, it’s best to avoid them at all cost and switching to organic produce can significantly reduce the amount of toxin exposure your baby has while in utero.
3. No growth hormones
The meat and dairy industries use growth hormones on animals so they grow faster and produce milk all year round. Unfortunately, these hormones don’t break down at high heat, so they still remain present after the meat is cooked. These hormones can disrupt your own hormonal balance, which could make you gain weight, break out or bloat. One way to avoid these growth hormones is to only eat organic meat and dairy.
4. No antibiotics
Just like hormones, we ingest antibiotics through non-organic meat and dairy. More than 80% of all antibiotics produced in the US are for the meat and dairy industry, so animals grow faster and survive the unsanitary conditions of concentrated feedlots (FDA). These antibiotics can interrupt your own gut bacteria balance, which is essential for a healthy immune system. Eating organic meat and dairy is one way of avoiding antibiotics in our food.
5. Guaranteed non-GMO
In the US, food manufacturers don’t legally have to label genetically modified (GMO) food, so unless a label says it’s organic or that it’s non-GMO, you can’t always be sure of what you’re getting. However, to be classified as organic, farmers can’t use genetically modified seeds or feed GMO food to animals so you can always know that your organic produce is non-GMO.
And as a bonus to your health, organic farming practices do not use fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides and chemicals that poison our soils, water and air. Pesticides and herbicides don’t break down in water so they can stay in our water systems and in our land for years.
HOW CAN YOU START EATING ORGANIC?
To be honest, it took me a while to get the importance of eating organic. Selfishly, I didn’t start to eat organic for environmental reasons… I simply enjoyed the taste of organic eggs and organic fruit better. However, when I was pregnant with Elijah, something shifted in me. Pregnancy was a time I became mindful of a lot of the choices I made in my life and that included the food I ate. After all, I couldn’t always control the chemicals I was exposed to each day, but I could control what was on my plate.
Slowly but surely, I started replacing conventional produce like berries or eggs, with their organic counterparts. Now with Elijah in my life, we eat organic whenever we eat at home. It is definitely more expensive so I do my best to make informed decisions and save where I can.
If you’re like me, here’s how you can start eating organic, even if you’re on a budget.
1. Buy organic for the Dirty Dozen
The Dirty Dozen is a list of the top 12 most heavily sprayed crops in the US. I recommend always buying these organic and being a bit more relaxed about the Clean Fifteen because they’re the least sprayed crops. For example, I always buy organic strawberries and spinach (the top two most sprayed crops in the US) but I don’t stress about bananas, avocados and grapefruit so I often buy these conventional.
2. Buy frozen
Frozen fruit and vegetables are a lot cheaper, so I will opt for a bag of frozen organic blueberries over a fresh punnet of conventional blueberries, especially when organic berries aren’t in season. The same applies with broccoli and bell peppers, especially when they’re not in season and too expensive to buy organic. The added bonus with frozen produce is that it’s pre-cut so its super easy to meal prep and cook!
3. Reduce meat and dairy
Personally, organic meat and dairy has become non-negotiable for me, especially when I’m pregnant or nursing. I make the financial sacrifice there and I buy conventional fruits and vegetables from the Clean Fifteen list to save money.
However, if you can’t afford organic meat, try swapping out meat for beans and lentils a few times a week. 1 cup of lentils has 17g of protein compared to 25g in the same amount of meat. Not only that, but lentils are full of fiber, folate, iron and minerals such as calcium. Maybe experiment with meatless meals that have beans or lentils 1-2 times per week and see how much you save and how you feel? The great thing with beans and lentils is that you’ll be getting lots of protein, minerals and vitamins, along with lots of fiber to help keep things moving during pregnancy.