My 3 Top Tips to going Organic (on a budget)

Aug 5, 2016 | Food

In recent times the organic food movement landed on our doorstep as a trend somewhat, yet we can see that the movement is here to stay – and for very good reason.

‘Organic’ is what our great grandparents consumed. Although back then organic wasn’t even a term to be coined, because organic just was. Nothing needed a label attached. The food quality had not (yet) been manipulated or exploited. Food came direct from farmers, or the backyard!

Although the message of Michael Pollan’s documentary, Cooked, does not directly address the issue of organic food, upon watching the 4 part series it inspired me to convey this real simple and clear message:

Organic doesn’t need to be a challenge.

It doesn’t need to be a burden on your bank account.

Organic is as nature intended – before man decided to take over and try to control everything. Sadly, this is the frequent human nature of the mind – often selfish, often money driven, and certainly short-sited. Little regard for the long-term effects on the generations coming next.

Let me not deny that there is, on occasion, the odd vegetable or ingredient that may be overwhelmingly expensive to purchase at a certified organic level. However, let me reassure you that committing to mostly organic (not just food or beverages, but even down to skin care and cleaning products) can be really accessible if you do a small amount of research initially to set yourself up.

Have you heard this suggestion before: If you eat organic you’re making cleaner eating choices and therefore you’ll spend less money on medical bills?

Is this proposition something that you’ve dismissed in the past? Or do you straight up agree?

My personal story has been living proof to myself that transitioning to a cleaner lifestyle, more nutritious consumption, and less toxic exposure to house-hold chemicals, has transformed my health and my life. I spent many years on daily medication and hospitalised often as a young child, and saw my doctor very frequently. Now this is such a rare occurrence. I cannot recall the last time it happened or the last cold, flu, immune, or asthma outbreak I had. I do believe this is due to understanding the concept of living according to ayurveda, learning to breathe better, but also committing to a cleaner, more conscious lifestyle.

I spend my money in the place that is most important – and that is (preventative) health.

It is so easy (and common) to spend small, mindless amounts of money on: alcohol, coffee, cigarettes, magazines, music downloads, subscriptions (that you don’t use anymore), or new clothing (like you need more?).

How can we better invest our time and money so that we are amplifying our longevity?

Here are my 3 super simple top tips to help you smoothly slip into the world of organics:

#1- Buy In Bulk. I certainly appreciate this has a higher upfront cost. yet it is not something you have to do completely overnight. Buy certain ingredients in bulk overtime until you make the full transition.

Because I know the immense health benefits of cooking with spices (not to mention that I love it) I buy all my spices online from an Australian bulk supplier. The spices are certified organic. I buy them in bulk and distribute them into my spice tins as required. As I easily cook with spices a lot I can justify going bulk! As I made this transition I started with smaller bulk sizing and slowly over time, recognising my commitment to cooking this way, I could easily upgraded to the larger bulk sizes (that perhaps cafes and restaurants use). Yet even at the smallest bulk sizes it is cheaper to buy these organic spices in bulk then to buy them non-organic in my local supermarket!

We buy our ‘dry’ and long life foods in bulk, such as: quinoa flakes, rice, flour, rapadura sugar, olive oil, tamari, coconut oil, and more. Many of your organic health shops these days are starting to integrate the option to refill your containers too. I have a large, glass bottle for olive oil and tamari, and I take it to my local store to have refilled. Not only does this save the environment on packaging, but I’m certainly saving money in the long term. Whenever I’m in Sydney I stock up at Source bulk food store. If you’re not sure if you’re close to a bulk supplier you can definitely buy online. Both Source and also Santos Whole Foods (Byron Bay) are great bulk suppliers in-person and online.

Although there is a higher upfront cost, over time you will absolutely save money. Plus the quality of your food will be much better and you’ll be more likely to cook at home because you have an abundance of ingredients!

#2 – Buy according to the most up-to-date version of the Clean Fifteen and Dirty Dozen.

Here is the most recent list just for you that I’ve been able to find via my own research:

clean fifteen 15 dirty dozen 12 organic

This list is the 2016 update from the EWG. I commit to always buying certified organic ingredients from the dirty dozen list (and personally, if they find they’re too expensive I make a choice to not use them in my cooking!). I do try to reduce the amount of places I have to go to get everything I need, so occasionally for the convenience of not having to go elsewhere I’ll pay that little bit extra and grab an item certified organic. For the most part, that Clean Fifteen list is where I will happily buy non-organic – particularly if I do not consume the thick skin on the outside layer of a food item. For example, I buy bananas and avocados non-organic. I usually buy red wax tipped ‘eco’ bananas which are grown in insecticide free soil.

My non-negotiables when buying organic now are: apples, potatoes, tomatoes, grapes, all berries, leafy greens, dairy products, bread products (eg. sourdough), and more.

#3 – Buy from your local farmers or farmers market.

Important: Often food from the farmers market is not certified organic – but that doesn’t actually mean it’s not organic. Many farmers cannot afford, or do not wish to pay, the thousands of dollars it often costs to certify produce as organic (we all know farmers are not dripping in riches!). This is the sad reality of the system. Go to your local farmers market, ask your farmers about their produce – how it’s made, etc. Be informed.

Buying locally means you get produce that is truly in season and therefore hasn’t travelled very far. It is much less likely to have any chemicals sprayed on it. This is a BIG benefit to not only your own health but the health of the farmers growing your food. Supporting organic helps them to remain healthy and be less exposed to various chemical toxins. This way we take care of the health of our own community and be less of a burden on the health care system. It’s a win-win.

organic farmers

There is an immense benefit in transitioning to a more organic lifestyle. It doesn’t mean you have to overhaul everything you consume in one hit. Bit by bit, overtime we can make a difference.

Do you have any tips to transitioning to organic?

What has been the easiest step, or most challenging, for you to make the change?

What are your organic non-negotiables?

Share your insights in the comments below – you never know who you might help or support along this path!

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