Tuesday, September 21, 2010

How to Eat Organic and Not Wind Up Living on the Street :)

I am always thrilled to talk to family members and friends that are taking steps to a healthier way of living. Realistically there are sooo many dangers out there in this fallen world of ours that we cannot avoid all of it all of the time.  I always advise those close to me to do what they can do within their means that the Lord Jesus has given them.

I don't believe it honors the Lord at all to trash our bodies with junk, use toxic materials, and drink chemically laden water. If you are a believer, this is a temple for the Holy Spirit, so if you don't trash your house, then don't trash His. If you are not a believer, well this is the only body your gonna get so take care of it!

I also do not believe it honors the Lord to worry about every last detail, or to spend His money that He gave you on expensive imported goji berries from wherever they are from that cost $3 million dollars (okay I'm exaggerating) when blueberries in season here in the states are fantastic!

I am a home educator of 2, so I am all about functionality. Every family can do better than what they are doing in the health department, believe me. It takes baby steps.  There are lots of ways to begin. What I'd like to do here is just offer some personal advice. You can see where it takes you.

One of the first things you want to do is learn what does the most damage.  I read a very helpful book called, To Buy or Not to Buy Organic by Cindy Burke. Cindy is an writer about food, organic farming, and nutrition for several publications.  She is also a chef and food consultant.

I found this book exceptionally helpful. Cindy discusses the awful practices that like to be kept under wraps about how our food is treated. She is also very honest about what foods shouldn't even be touched unless they are organic, as well as conventional foods that are just fine.  Any family on a budget will find the guide in the back of the book invaluable. Go and buy it. Amazon has it I believe.

She talks about something called, The Dirty Dozen, that has been become widely known, but not by nearly enough regular consumers. Basically what The Dirty Dozen is are the 12 foods you really want to buy organic if possible, especially with children.  Children can become severely ill from these chemicals and pesticides, and no they just don't wash off.

These dirty foods are: strawberries (the MOST chemically intensive crop in CA), red & green bell peppers, spinach, cherries, peaches, nectarines, celery, apples, pears, grapes (especially ones from Chili), raspberries, and potatoes. Side note-don't buy anything from Chili.

Next she also shares the Clean Fifteen, as you might of guessed these are some of the safer conventionally grown foods. I personally keep to this list for my budget's sake.  I do follow the dirty dozen as well.
These clean foods are: asparagus, avocados, bananas, blueberries, broccoli, cabbage, garlic, kiwi, mango, onions, papaya, pineapple, shelling peas, sweet corn (if it is not GMO), watermelon (domestically grown).

Something else that I really, really try to do is to eat locally.  Supporting local area farmers is so very important.  First of all your supporting your community, which is great for so many reasons. You are keeping the money close to home, and that allows local farmers to take care of their farms well. This could also encourage farmers to use more sustainable methods of pest control if they are able to afford them.

Eating locally is also healthier, and sometimes much cheaper for you. When we eat food that was just picked, and has traveled a very short distance, say from a farmers market, or a local farmer on the side of the road with a cart, you get more nutrients from your food.  The nutrient ratio is higher because the less time between picking and to your plate means more vitamins and minerals left in the food. Local foods can be cheaper due to the same concept in a ratio of time. Less gas money, and less arduous ways of storing food having been used due to short distances.

If you ever have the opportunity to actually go to the farm that is even better. It is wise to know your farmer, see the practices being used, and possibly the farmer after a while may even cut you a break after he/she sees that you are a loyal customer. I can tell you that when I was purchasing organic raw goat milk "for my cat", that I was able to go to the small family farm, meet the farmers, see how they did things, and I felt much more confident in the clean product that I was purchasing.  It also made me feel good to support that family.

I find that I will buy certain foods at certain places as well due to cost and quality.  I don't mind so much, if I am able, to spend money at Whole Foods if I feel the item is worth while. I will purchase organic kale there every week at $2.99 a bunch. I of course go crazy when it is on sale like it is right now for 2 bunches for $4.
That is the only store that I can find kale organic, in good quality, and clean. One farmer sells it at the farmers market, but I wasn't impressed when we brought it home, and kale is something you really want organic. The farmer said he doesn't spray, but I'm not so sure.

On the other hand I refuse to buy conventional bananas at Whole Foods for $.68 per pound. I'll go down the street to Trader Joes and spend $.49 per pound. Oh there's another tip, tropical fruits are usually ok to purchase conventionally. Now I didn't say everything imported, but tropical fruits are usually low or nonexistent on the pesticide residue scale. You might notice that on the clean 15 list.

I shop at Sam's Club for raw organic baby spinach at $3.98 per container ( I go through 3-4 of these per week between salads and smoothies), pineapples for $2.98 each, a container of kiwi for $4.98, a bag of 5 avocados from either California or Mexico for $4.98, a very large bag of red onions for $5.98 (I think), a big bag of lemons for $5.98, and a huge bag of garlic for $3.97. FYI citrus fruit if washed well is ok conventionally grown, but if you're using them for cooking/baking with the zest then only buy organic.

Friends of mine have joined CSAs, and this is something that I am going to do as well. A CSA is an awesome program where you make an agreement with a certain farmer to purchase his/her/their food for a certain amount and you pick it up each week.  The farmer does the work, you help him out by paying in a lump sum, and he loads you up with delicious, usually organic goodies. A similar program, which I find ever so appealing, is getting produce delivered to your door.  Two programs I know of are www.papaspud.com and www.theproducebox.com. Neither of these deliver in my area-bummer!  

Last year something we started doing was gardening.  My wonderful father came to visit several times to help me build a box garden. He just got some pieces of wood, and made a rectangular box in the ground. We have grown tomatoes successfully, squash successfully, as well as zucchini successfully. Without even trying, by composting we actually wound up growing some cantaloupes. I guess some seeds wound up in the soil. They were wonderful.  It was a treat!

We tried growing cucumbers, but we were not successful :(  We have been blessed with some wonderful basil plants, and quite a few blueberries on our bushes though.  A couple of strawberries came up, but not too many. So far I've only discussed organic fruits and veggies. I will talk more about other foods, and items in the home in my next post.  God bless you.

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