I CAN’T AFFORD ORGANIC, NOW WHAT?

Feeding a family an organic diet can be a very cost prohibitive endeavor. While there are some things that are only a matter of spending an extra 50 cents in order to get organic, many other products can be dollars more expensive – PER ITEM. That is not something that most of us on a budget can justify. Here are a few ways to feed your family better, while not having to resort to purchasing all organic.

  1. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has released a report each year for the past few years listing which fruits and vegetables have been found to contain the highest levels of pesticide residue. The worst offenders are known as “the dirty dozen”, while the least offenders are referred to as “the clean 15”. For the year 2016, the Dirty Dozen are:

Apples

Celery

Tomatoes

Cherry Tomatoes

Cucumbers

Grapes

Nectarines

Peaches

Potatoes

Spinach

Strawberries

Sweet Bell Peppers/hot peppers

And for some unknown reason, the EWG has added on a 13th category of Kale/Collard Greens. Perhaps the list should now be referred to as The Dirty Baker’s Dozen

For the year 2016, the Clean 15 are:

Asparagus

Avocadoes

Cabbage

Cantaloupe

Cauliflower

Eggplant

Grapefruit

Kiwi

Mangoes

Onions

Papaya

Pineapple

Sweet Corn (but beware it’s still probably genetically modified!)

Sweet Peas (frozen)

Honeydew Melon

Sometimes though, this list isn’t as helpful as one needs it to be since so many of the items listed in the Dirty Dozen category are foods that are commonly consumed by young children and can still be quite cost prohibitive! I know that there have been times in our life when we were not able to afford ANY organic produce – even if we only were to have done the Dirty Dozen. So what else can be done?

2. Experts have found that a solution of white vinegar and water kills 98% of bacteria and removes a significant portion of pesticides. This is a VERY affordable way to reducing your family’s exposure to harmful pesticides without having to spend a premium on organic produce! You can either mix 3 parts water to 1 part vinegar in a spray bottle and spray/rinse your produce, or soak your produce in a bowl of water with about 1/8-1/4 cup of vinegar (depending on the size of your bowl) for 10 minutes and then rinse well. (Be gentle with berries – and perhaps only soak for a few minutes instead of the complete 10).

3. You may also want to consider peeling conventional produce that is peelable  – such as apples, cucumbers, and potatoes. This doesn’t reduce all exposure to the pesticides, but it will help since the outermost surfaces of fruits and vegetables are commonly thought to be the most affected by pesticide spraying.

4. Last, but definitely not least is developing a relationship with a local farmer! Though many small farmers can’t afford to be certified organic, many practice safe and sustainable farming practices – which includes minimal spraying of pesticides.