Thanks to the amazing Canadian climate, our summers out here are true and blue. The moment spring rolls in, everyone’s redoing their decks, putting away their sweaters, fixing up the cottage and dusting off their BBQs. It’s really something to see — it’s like we’ve been cooped up so long inside, the moment there’s a ray of sunshine, we take it and run. Then, the Farmer’s Markets open up and we know: summer has officially descended.
With all the amazing and bountiful produce going on out there, you can’t help but dive right and make the most of it — and I totally encourage you to do so. Even if you’ve gotta lug yourself out of your bed at the crack of dawn because your local farmer’s market closes up up 10 (and, let’s face it, all the really good, juicy stuff is gone by 8, right?), it’s totally worth it. Because what could be better than grilling up fresh veggies with your burgers?
Whether they’re buying in-store or outdoors, folks are still a little confused about this whole organic thing. So let’s break it down for ya. We’re going to tackle the What — as in, what is eating “organic” really all about? — and the Why — as in why you should be trying to eat organic as much as possible.
First off, some of the confusion is because “organic” is so broad. There are different regulations depending on the country that you’re in, different percentages of “organic” that the content needs to be in order for it to be labelled as such — it can be overwhelming to say the least.
What is organic?
Organic foods are basically foods that are produced using methods that do not involve pesticides and chemical fertilizers, do not contain genetically modified organisms, and are should not be processed using chemical food additives.
In Canada on June 30, 2009, the Organic Products Regulations (OPR) came into effect, making it mandatory for products labelled organic to abide by the Canadian Organic Standards.
Non-organic food is grown using herbicides, pesticides, fungicides and insecticides – all of which are potential cancer causing agents. Not only that, many of the regulations used to govern the use of these products were passed long before the health dangers of such products were considered.
Organic farms don’t use chemicals to treat their land and that means these chemicals don’t and up in the fruits and veggies they grow. grown in nutrient dense soil is far richer in anti-oxidants which prevent the creation of free-radicals.Organic farms use methods like crop rotation, green manures, compost and biological pest control. Basically, healthier soil = healthier body.
Pro-Tip: your carrot should not look like a baseball bat.
The produce you find in the grocery store looks nothing like nature intended. Giant fruits and vegetables line the aisles but this is a case where bigger is not better! Fruit and veggies are pumped full of growth hormones to produce disease resistant, gigantic crops. They mature much faster allowing for a quicker profit but at what cost? Your body is paying the price as it struggles to filter all of the unknown chemicals and hormones.
Based on taste alone organic foods are far superior. I wish the computer allowed for taste testing, but really you can just do this yourself. In my opinion organic products just taste better. Non- organics lack a lot of flavour because they haven’t had time to develop naturally. If you’ve ever had a fresh strawberry or even a hormone/antibiotic free chicken breast you know what I mean. But don’t take my word for it, try them yourself.
What to buy?
If you want to go organic but think it’s too expensive, do not fret! This isn’t an all or nothing kind of situation. Would going 100% organic be awesome? Sure it would. But it’s not 100% necessary.
Some foods contain more pesticides than others because some crops are just more heavily treated than others. For example, fruits and veggies that you need to peel are often going to contain fewer chemicals because the outer layer will have been removed. This doesn’t mean that all of the scary grossness is gone; you’ll just be eating less. And even with organic food, you’re not going to be completely free of pesticides you’ll just have considerably reduced amounts.
Pro-Tip: You can save tons of money by buying in season organic produce and freezing it for later.
Prices rise when you buy your food out of season and things have to be shipped in from other countries. Buying local eliminates the additional travel cost of getting the food to you.
There have been a couple of published lists about the most chemically laced produce versus the least. I have used a few sources to compile my own list identifying what organic items you should buy. I have also compiled a list of non-organic foods that you can afford to buy because they are less harmful. This is just a basic overview for you. If you want to go all the way organic, good on you. If you want to just buy a few things organic, equally good. As always, you need to do what’s best for you and your budget.
And remember: AC/GC — Any Change is Good Change!
Buy these Organic!!
For the most part the fruits and vegetables that are listed below are the most heavily treated crops. They are also covered in pesticides that can’t be easily washed off. These seem to be foods that we consume often so it’s a good idea to buy these organic where available.
NOT as important to buy Organic!
The above listed items are only fruits and veggies (I’m sure you figured that out) but there a couple other items that are a good idea to buy organic if possible.
- Baby foods – infants are more sensitive to pesticides because their immune systems are still developing. It’s much safer to opt for organic for their tiny bodies. Lots of companies now offer organic options or you can make your own by blending up whatever delicious food you’re eating!
- Milk and butter – Pesticides are stored in fats and can easily be passed on to us.
- Meat – The health and muscle mass of cattle, poultry and pigs is maintained by antibiotics and drugs. There are also many pesticides on the feed they’re given as well. Buy organic, grass-fed meats whenever possible.
Make sure you pay attention to where your food comes from as well. Fruit and veggies that are imported from other countries may have come from places that do not have the same policies about pesticide and standards for what is acceptable. Buying local ensures you know where your food came from!
Pro-Tip: Pesticides and the chemicals that are sprayed on crops are meant to withstand rain and watering.
Have you been trying to go organic? Share with me in the comments below!