Going Organic – By David Uffington

By on September 16, 2011

Organic food often comes with a hefty price. It is possible, however, to find food that’s good for us at a cost that isn’t going to break the bank.

The first step is to learn the differences between “100 percent organic,” “organic” and “70 percent organic.” Go online to www.usda.gov and put “National Organic Program” in the search box. Look for “Understanding Organic.”

Decide how to spend your food money to give your family the best health benefit for the dollar. If you can bake your own breads, then you might want to limit your organic shopping to fruits and vegetables that you can’t grow. Or if you can grow those, but can’t have chickens, spend your money there.

There’s an online list, sometimes called The Dirty Dozen, of 12 foods that have high rates of pesticide contamination, even after being washed: Nectarines, Celery, Pears, Peaches, Apples, Cherries, Strawberries, Imported Grapes, Spinach, Potatoes, Bell Peppers and Red Raspberries. Consider spending your money on organic versions of those, instead of the thicker-skinned fruits and vegetables that have a lower rate of pesticides: Asparagus, Avocados, Bananas, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Corn, Kiwi, Mangoes, Onions, Papaya, Pineapples and Sweet Peas.

Buy in-season. See what’s at the store or market, and plan your menus around the organic foods that are available.

Check out Local Harvest [www.localharvest.org] and put in your ZIP code for farmers markets and community supported agriculture (CSA) farms near you. In addition to fresh fruits and vegetables, many of these markets carry meats, baked goods, herbs and organic teas. Ask before you buy: Even if a farmer doesn’t yet have his official “organic” certification, it could well be that he’s in the process of doing so and hasn’t sprayed any pesticides.

Buy pasta, nuts and dried fruit in bulk if you have a means of storage. Use your freezer to store other foods.

Shop around and compare prices between CSAs, farmers markets, co-ops, buying clubs and your grocery store.

If necessary, take it one step at a time as you learn which items you can leave out of your standard menu and replace with organic choices.

Ask for discounts, even at a farmers market, especially if buying in bulk.

The benefit to you in moving toward organic? The food you put on your table tonight might have been picked a few miles away this morning.

 

David Uffington regrets that he cannot personally answer reader questions, but will incorporate them into his column whenever possible. Write to him in care of King Features Weekly Service, P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475, or send e-mail to columnreply@gmail.com.

(c) 2011 King Features Synd., Inc.

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