So you're trying to eat cleaner and make better choices with your diet... AWESOME!
Then you go to the grocery and you realize..... organic can cost so FRIGGIN much, AMIRIGHT? So you ask the question... does everything have to be organic?!
Ideally, yes. Realistically, unless you're making mad cash, or you're an organic farmer (which I can hook you up with potential in both of these areas, but that's for a later time), you can't blow every penny on all-organic. Right? The kids need shoes. You must have a house to live in. Air-conditioning and hot, running water are a must, and dadgummit, so is your high-speed Internet connection. #firstworldproblems But I digress.... No, not all of your food has to be organic, but you do have to be smart about it.
If you're overwhelmed with where to begin in eating a cleaner diet, TAKE HEART! I am here to give you some EASY tips that will save you some $$$ as you improve your health by making better food choices.
#1. Get Familiar with The Dirty Dozen. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) puts in all the hard work in testing the dirtiest, most pesticide-laden fruits and vegetables and compiles them in a tidy list for you every year. It's like a virtual pat on the back, assuring you they're watching out for you and your family. If possible, buy these dozen fruits and veggies organic-only, or avoid them altogether. 2017's list can be found here, and this cute list is perfect for printing and sticking to your fridge, right next to your shopping list (OK, I'm old-school, I like paper lists... you can save and Pin it, add to your Trello board, or whatever, too.)
#2. All Hail the Clean Fifteen! Again, EWG saves the day with listing the cleanest produce of the year, showing which fifteen are safest to buy non-organic. It all adds up to some serious dough if you're making and prepping 99.9% of your meals at home like we do; you'd better believe I have this list on my fridge, too!
(Image Credit: Environmental Working Group, 2017)
#3. Eat In Season. Choose produce that's in season (read: on sale!)-- garden-fresh choices like melon, tomatoes, corn, cucumbers, berries, summer squash in the summer; mushrooms, carrots, onions, parsnips, pumpkins, cranberries, turnips, kale in the fall and winter. When you eat in season, you're going to save $ on groceries, as well as encourage sustainable farming practices by not choosing things out of season (which are more costly to import, more expensive for you, and harder on the environment to keep going year-round). There's an incredible, comprehensive guide for each season found here; just remember to adhere to the Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen.
#4. Go Local. Depending on where you are in the country, you may not be far from a local farmer's market or CSA (Community Supported Agriculture), where you can pick up your produce for less than at the grocery, and it will be fresher, locally sourced and go back to supporting your hard-working neighbors instead of going into the pockets of big-box grocery stores. If you buy into a CSA and you aren't sure what in the world to do with your 5-lb box of squash/potatoes/corn/etc., don't let it go to waste-- cut up and freeze what you know you won't use so you can pull it out of the freezer for a quick add-in to your favorite soup/stew in the colder months that really are just around the corner. We have an amazing local farmer (what's up, Farmer Todd?!) AND an incredible Farmer's Market just down the street from us (hey-o, Nolensville Farmer's Market!)
#5. Grow It Yourself! Now I know this isn't for everyone, and not everyone wants to take the time to do this, but growing an organic garden can be a rewarding and cost-effective way to enjoy fresh produce. It may sound daunting if you've never grown anything in your life, but keep your eyes peeled- I have a friend who does nothing BUT teach others how to grow their own amazing, organic gardens and she'll be a feature on the blog in just a few short weeks with tips on how to get started! (Here's looking at you, Nina! <wink>)
Until next time, eat clean, treat yourself well, and cheers to health and wellness through natural solutions!