Friday, March 13, 2009

buying organics.........

I can remember as a teenager (I started getting into eating healthy when I was 15--I was actually a vegetarian for 10 years, until the age of 25) in the produce section of the grocery stores they would have a tiny little section donated to organic produce. I don't even think I understood what that was back then, I just knew that they cost more money.

On a side note: the raw milk industry believes that they are much like the organic industry. That they are just now getting started & 20 years from now or so they will be booming, just like organics are today. Or at least I assume that everyone is now aware that organics are abundantly available out there. I know that 'some' mainstream grocery stores carry them, but I really don't shop in mainstream grocery stores, so I don't know how many of them do & don't.

Anyways, for many years my focus was on just eating healthfully, ie not eating junk food, processed food, etc. I really didn't know much about organics. I did shop at Trader Joes for as much as I could there, but then filled in the rest of my grocery needs at mainstream stores. I wasn't aware of the healthy stores back then, at least there weren't very many in my neighborhood.

Then when I met my hubby I learned about the healthy stores--mainly whole foods & mothers market. We've found a lot more of them in the past few years. I started shopping at those too & soon replaced all my mainstream grocery shopping with these stores. Another side note: a year or two ago I learned about GMOs (genetically modified organisms). I had known that they existed, but didn't really know details about them or how to identify them or avoid them. One day I picked up a book about them on the book rack at Whole Foods & was amazed at the things I learned. I recommend the book very highly: "seeds of deception"

When I met hubby he was really into buying organic produce, but nothing else really. He bought alta-dena milk & "natural" chicken, etc. (don't get me started on all those terms that really don't mean anything--like 'cage free' & 'natural' & even 'organic' in the cosmetic industry) Once I started getting into organics I felt that it was more important for meat, dairy, & eggs to be organic than produce. Over time hubby has come to agree with me on that (based on information I've learned & shared with him). But we were still buying a lot of produce organic as well. Last summer we started working on our grocery budget & trying to find ways to lower the amount we spend. One decision we made was to prioritize what produce NEEDED to be purchased organic & what didn't necessarily need to be organic. So again I did research & found the dirty dozen & clean dozen list.

The dirty dozen, the 12 produce items that contain the most pesticide residue (& therefore SHOULD be purchased organic): peaches, apples, bell peppers, celery, nectarines, strawberries, cherries, lettuce, grapes, pears, spinach, & potatoes.

The clean dozen, the 12 produce items that contain the least amount of pesticide residue (& therefore don't necessarily need to be organic): asparagus, avocados, bananas, broccoli, cabbage, corn, eggplant, kiwi, mangos, onions, pineapple, & peas.

However, I personally insist on corn being organic as much as possible because it is a HUGE GMO crop (& the only way to avoid GMO is to make sure it's organic). I also insist on onions being organic because non-organic ones are sprayed with a sprout inhibitor that is really unhealthy (potatoes are also sprayed with this, but they also contain a lot of pesticide so I already make sure to buy those organic). Not on either of these lists but another one I insist on organic is tomato, because they have tried (& to my knowledge so far failed, but of course they're gonna keep on trying) to make lots of GMO tomatoes & I want to avoid those.

When I took my speech class in college I had to do one public presentation at the end of the semester. The teacher started by making us choose a topic. The topic I chose was "why you should eat organic" My teacher didn't like it, she encouraged me to change it, she felt it wouldn't pan out well. I refused to change it (& I have to admit I learned A LOT of really interesting stuff while doing research to prepare the speech, stuff that supported my decision to continue eating organic as much as possible) & my teacher in the end apologized & stated that she was wrong after hearing my speech. She said she had always thought organic was a whole lifestyle, an all or nothing approach, & that I had shown her otherwise. Needless to say I got a great grade on my speech & I am pretty sure my teacher was going to make some changes to her diet & I do hope I encouraged some others in my class to make changes also, although the majority of the class was really, really young, so I doubt at that age they would be very interested. I know I was interested at a young age, but most at that age aren't.

As for my quest on eating healthy & learning new stuff & moving forward: I feel like I have a really good knowledge base on organics & GMOs & I am currenlty looking into the dairy industry. I am just starting to learn about raw milk & what I am finding fascinates me. I am currently reading a book titled "the untold story of milk" (the brand new updated edition, there's an older version out there also). I'm sure as my research unfolds I'll be posting more blogs along this topic as well. :)

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