The term “organic” refers to the way agricultural products are grown and processed. While the regulations vary from country to country, in the U.S., organic food crops must be grown must be grown without the use of synthetic herbicides, pesticides, and fertilizers, or bioengineered genes (GMOs).
Organic livestock raised for meat, eggs, and dairy products must be raised in living conditions accommodating their natural behaviors (such as the ability to graze on pasture) and fed organic feed and forage. They may not be given antibiotics, growth hormones, or any animal by-products.
The price of food may be soaring, but buying conventional produce rather than organic may end up costing more in the long run. “Eating organic now could save you from expensive health problems down the line,” says John A. McDougall, MD, author of The McDougall Plan: 12 Days to Dynamic Health (Plume Publishing). “Pesticides cause neurological damage and promote breast and other endocrine cancers.” Six strategies to skimp on costs, not health:
Stick to what’s in season. When there’s an abundance of a particular fruit or veggie, the price drops.
Plant a garden. It’s an inexpensive and fun way to get your own fresh produce. You’ll never have to wonder where your food came from—and you won’t have to fill up on gas to get to the store. Even apartment dwellers can enjoy fresh veggies using a container garden.
Plan your meals. Shopping efficiently will also cut down on gasoline-consuming trips to the store.
Support local growers. The more distance the food travels from farm to table, the greater the environmental cost. Plus, you can ask local farmers about discounts or even bartering opportunities.
Farmers Markets. The number of farmers markets continues to grow. They are a great source of local grown produce- and you have a chance to meet the grower.
Shop at a co-op. Food co-ops purchase mostly unprocessed, organic food in bulk, which means you won’t pay for packaging or manufacturing costs. They also provide an opportunity to connect with other consumers interested in organic food.
The organic label does not just relate to fruit and vegetables. Dairy is another big group for organics. Look for certified organic labels on the products that you purchase.