Grocery Guidelines When You Can’t Afford Organic
How does a drug marked, “Not for use in humans. Individuals with cardiovascular disease should exercise special caution to avoid exposure. Use protective clothing, impervious gloves, protective eye wear, and a NIOSH-approved dust mask” become “safe” in human food? With no washout period?
The drug is banned in Europe, Taiwan and China, and more than 1,700 people have been “poisoned” from eating pigs fed the drug since 1998, but ractopamine is used in 45 percent of U.S. pigs and 30 percent of ration-fed cattle.
Even more frightening, 20% of the drug remains in the meat when you eat it, according to veterinarian Michael W. Fox.
We’ve discussed the importance of eating certified organic food in a number of teleseminars, but unfortunately, not everyone can afford to eat 100% organic. So for those of you who aren’t JPT Members, here’s a shortlist of guidelines you can take to the grocery store with you:
Organic Meat & Dairy Most Important
Due to the numerous nasty drugs, growth hormones and antibiotics given to factory-farmed (i.e. “normal”) animals, eating certified organic meat (or exclusively grass-fed, not just “grass finished”) and dairy products should be at the top of your list. Yes, meat is the most expensive thing to purchase organic, BUT, due to the serious health consequences, it is the most important.
So here’s what you can do: Eat meat like oriental people do, where the meat is thinly sliced and is just a small component of your meal. Unless you’re out working in the fields all day, doing manual labor, once you are an adult, you don’t need that much protein to support your body. You can also get protein from organic or grass-fed raw (not pasteurized) dairy and from organic, free-range eggs – which are all cheaper sources than meat. Fish is also a great protein source, just make sure it’s wild (not farmed) and mercury levels are not too high. Nuts and seeds are another good protein source when you cannot afford much meat.
The other great thing about animal protein is that even if you consume a very small amount of it, it substantially increases protein extraction and utilization from legumes and other non-animal sources.
If you make sure a large number of your calories (40%) are coming from organic fats – like butter, coconut oil, olive oil, fish oil – then that greatly reduces the amount of meat you need too and increases your health! Again, since an animal stores hormones and toxins in its fat, this is another area where you need to make sure the fats you eat are certified organic or grass-fed.
Here’s another facet to be aware of: If you live in the U.S., it has some of the lowest standards for organic certification for animals. So what you have occurring now, is that factory farm cows (for example) are kept in the same conditions – overcrowded, no access to pasture – but just fed organic grain and not given routine drugs, and presto, they are being sold as “certified organic” meat or dairy. The farmers have figured out that it’s more profitable to just have a higher death rate (from the poor conditions), but be able to get organic prices for their meat/dairy. For this reason, if you live in the States, 100% grass-fed (not just “grass finished”) meat/dairy or free-range chicken/eggs are often preferable. Especially if you buy from a smaller farm where the farmer is personally involved. If you order in bulk and keep frozen, this is usually cheaper than organic anyway.
Note: For these reasons, you also shouldn’t order meat in restaurants, since it is almost all factory-farmed. Stick to veggies, pasta, seafood, etc.
Cut Corners On The Veggies
Where you can save some money is in purchasing your vegetables and fruit. Here’s a simple guideline to follow so that you don’t have to cart a list around with you: the harder the surface of the fruit or vegetable, the less pesticide-absorption there is. Likewise, anything that requires peeling contains less pesticides, since you’re peeling off a lot of the pesticides. So, soft produce, like lettuce, spinach, strawberries, peaches etc. absorb the most pesticides and you want to make sure you buy them organic. But hard or peel produce, like oranges, broccoli, cauliflower, potatoes, cantaloupe, apples, etc. contain less pesticides – especially after removing the skin, so that’s where you can save money if you need to. Also, check to see if produce is “no spray” – this is considerably cheaper than organic, but still cuts out a lot of pesticides. Likewise, look for transitional organic produce – again, less pesticides, but not as expensive.
One other tip: hot house vegetables usually require less pesticides used than field vegetables. So if you absolutely cannot afford organic, or no-spray, then get whatever you can that has been hot house or hydroponically grown.
Also consider planting your own veggie garden – all you need is a balcony off your condo or apartment and that’s sufficient. There’s an entire movement of people taking control of their food, at huge savings, by getting involved with urban gardening – we also did a teleseminar about this at JPT Wellness Circle that has all the info you need to get started.
Don’t Buy Processed Foods
Processed, packaged foods are where the costs can really escalate. If you need a sweet treat, then take one day and bake in bulk – banana bread, muffins and cookies all freeze really well. Package them up in one-week packets (i.e. the amount of treats your family wants to eat each week) and then just take a packet out of the freezer as needed. I’ve got LOTS of recipes for my family’s favorite (yet healthy) treats over at JPT Wellness Circle, but I also made a few of my healthy, delicious treat recipes available to everyone.
When you want a salty treat, just buy plain, salted potato chips. Or, even better, make your own organic popcorn with organic butter (or coconut oil) and salt. You can also add fine-grated parmesan for a cheesy popcorn taste – but don’t stint on the butter. Remember, 40% of your cell membrane is fat, so don’t be shy.
If you cook several meals in bulk and freeze them, that also cuts down on the impulse to buy processed foods when you don’t have time to cook. Excellent meals to freeze (again, package in whatever serving size suits your household) are lasagne, stews, soups, chicken nuggets, hamburger patties, meatballs, bolognese sauce and cheese sauce (for mac ‘n cheese).
If you buy a small deep freeze (check out Costco or Craigslist), this really helps you to buy in bulk and cut costs. Large bags of organic peas from Costco are actually cheaper than pesticide peas in smaller packets. Again, just divide them up into smaller bags when you get home for easy access. If you contact your local grocery store, you can find out (for example) how much chicken they need you to buy to get bulk pricing. Then buy a case and freeze it. I do this with everything and here’s what I save by buying cases:
Organic tomato sauce from Costco ($.75 vs. $2.49)
Organic Italian olive oil from Community Co-op ($8.49 vs $22.99)
Organic canned Tuscany tomatoes (imported from Italy) from Community Co-Op ($1.49 vs. $3.89)
Organic gala apples ($1.05/lb vs. $1.98/lb)
So, to sum up, get as much as you can at cheap places like Costco and Trader Joe’s and then buy staples in bulk from the cheapest organic supplier you can find. In the summer, if you live near any farms or farmer’s markets, get no-spray whenever possible.
What’s Your Health Worth?
My final comment on this whole issue is that the amount of money you’re willing to spend on groceries is largely a matter of attitude – not reality. In Europe, it is normal and expected to spend 20% of your income on food – because good quality food is valued and appreciated there. In the U.S., most people spend only 10% of their income on food. So when people say that they “can’t afford to eat organic” – well, even if organic food is double the price, you’d still only be spending what millions of families routinely spend.
In my family, food (groceries) is the most important thing we spend our money on, along with supplements. Because, if you don’t have your health, you don’t have anything! Exercise you can get for free – brisk walking, hiking, going to a playground, soccer or football in a park – these are essential for health, but don’t require any money. Good quality, health-promoting food and supplements do cost money, but are so worth it. And these two elements form the foundation for not just good, but vibrant health: Good Health Is Real Wealth.
Jini Patel Thompson’s books on natural healing for digestive diseases have sold in over 40 different countries. Her health articles have been published in journals and magazines in the U.S., Australia and U.K. <a href=”www.ListenToYourGut.com” target=”_blank”>www.ListenToYourGut.com</a>