Shopping for Organics: Dos and Don’ts

by in Grocery Shopping, Healthy Tips, February 13, 2009

The demand for organic food rises every year, but everything organic might not be worth it. With organic foods sporting higher price tags, it’s important to weigh their value against your grocery budget. Here are some simple rules.

DON’T: Buy everything labeled organic
DO: Know your labels!
There is an entire language to organic food labeling – read up here before your next shopping trip. One quick tip: when buying fruits and vegetables, look at their numbered produce stickers for any that start with a “9” — that means they’re organic.

DON’T: Buy organic produce instead of local produce
DO: Buy local produce when in season
Local farms run smaller operations and often don’t use the same chemicals that larger farms need. It’s also very expensive for local farms to purchase the “organic farm” title, so many of them don’t. Talk to your local farmer about their efforts to grow safe fruits and vegetables. Find a market near you at LocalHarvest.org.

DON’T: Waste money buying produce that have thick skins that you don’t eat (bananas, avocados, onions and pineapple)
DO: Choose organic apples, strawberries, bell peppers, lettuce and potatoes
You eat the skins of these foods and they tend to be grown using more harmful pesticides.

DON’T: Assume that everything organic is better for you
DO: Check the nutrition facts — cookies are high in calories whether they are organic or not.

DON’T: Skimp on your milk
DO: Buy organic milk
Someone I trust once told me that if they could only buy one organic thing, it would be milk. Organic dairy cows are treated more humanely, and their milk may contain more nutrients according to recent research –- it’s worth the extra money, especially when you’re giving it to your kids.

DON’T: Think you can’t make a difference
DO: Be more green
When you do choose to buy organic products, you are supporting a system that is more eco-friendly.

DON’T: Throw away foods or skip favorites because of this article
DO: What’s important to you!
Consider your budget, family needs and lifestyle and make choices that are best for you.

Plus, check out the Environmental Working Group’s new “Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides,” which has downloadable wallet and cell phone guides listing some of the cleanest and dirtiest produce.

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