Because organic products are more expensive than standard items, buying “all organic” may not be possible for everyone. The question, therefore, if your budget won’t stretch that far, is which ones should you prioritise? The first thing to understand is that not all plants grow the same way. Some fruits and vegetables grow easily and don’t absorb chemicals the way others do. This makes them “safe” whether they’re organic or not. Known as the “clean 15”, the list comprises avocados, sweetcorn, pineapples, cabbages, onions, sweet peas, papayas, asparagus, mangos, eggplants, honeydew melons, cantaloupe melons, kiwis, cauliflowers and broccoli.
Some fruits and vegetables, however, have a high ability to absorb and keep chemicals in their flesh, therefore it’s better to opt for organic varieties. Called the “dirty dozen”, the list comprises strawberries, spinach, nectarines, apples, peaches, grapes, cherries, pears, tomatoes, celery, potatoes and bell peppers. Don’t forget this list while shopping!
One way to keep your grocery bill down while increasing your intake of healthy products is to buy seasonal foods in local markets. Locally grown fruits and vegetables are often very affordable, and even if they aren’t organic, they’ve usually been grown in good conditions – local farmers tend to be less inclined to use pesticides and chemicals to conserve products, as the goods don’t have to travel far to be sold. You may even be lucky enough to find fruits and vegetables that have been harvested the day before.
Farmers selling at local markets also tend to be small-scale producers, and while they don’t always have the resources to be able to call their products ”organic”, they may not have a lot of money to spend on chemicals, so they often use more natural, cheaper ways to help their plants grow.
Buying seasonal fruits and vegetables is also good for our overall health. The nutrients and vitamins in plants are adapted to the season in which they grow and provide us with the nutrients and vitamins our bodies need to adapt to the prevailing weather. Summer fruits, for example, contain a lot of water, while roots and winter vegetables are rich in fibre to help us cope with the cold.
The important thing to take from all of this is that you have options. Organic is no longer simply a buzzword – it’s a movement in reaction to an unhealthy, over-industrialised farming industry and represents consumers’ desire for safer, healthier products. Yes, organic foods are more difficult to grow than non-organic products; yes, they’re less affordable and often harder to find, which can make people hesitant to buy them. They are, however, the safer, healthier option, and consumers would be well advised to find a balance between organic and non-organic products in their basket to boost their overall health and wellbeing.