Following on from my research-based article earlier this week on whether organic food is actually better for our health - this blog offers advice on seeking out alternatives if organic choices don't fit the budget.
Just having organic on the label is not necessarily an indication of a good all-round product.
Generally, however, organic food may contain more anti-oxidants and fewer chemical residues than non-organic food and will almost certainly benefit the environment - which might make it a more desirable choice. But that's not the end of the story. The cost of products which boast an organic stamp is usually more expensive - between 50-200% more. If you are struggling to make ends meet there are other things you can do to get ensure that the food you eat is as nutritious as possible, without relying on organically labelled produce. Here are a few top tips from Vavista:
Choose local and buy in season
Without travelling miles your food will be fresher, need fewer preservatives and you may be able to check the provenance of the food if you buy from farmer's markets or local producers.
Frozen veg may retain nutrients better than 'fresh' that has been harvested days or weeks before it reaches you.
Non-organic food may contain a lot of pesticide residues on its skin so ensure you wash it thoroughly. Peeling will reduce those residues further - though sometimes at the expense of nutrients. Foods that you would ordinarily peel anyway before eating - think pineapple, avocado, bananas - may be the ones you don't spend the 'organic' premium on, if you are cutting costs.
The way you cook your food, whether organic or non-organic, can help retain nutrients - microwaving or steaming means that the nutrients are not lost in the water.
The bottom line?
Be a savvy shopper - organic labels are an enticement to buy but you still need to check that you are buying a good product. Try to buy locally produced food wherever possible to reduce the time spent in transit leaching nutrients, and try to make sure that my meat and dairy comes from animals reared on grass not grain.
Most importantly focus on the quality, not the quantity of food you buy. Surrounded by all-you-can-eat buffets, buy-one-get-one-free offers and price wars between supermarkets, we think we are getting value-for-money....but is this at the expense of our health, our waistline and our environment?
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