Our guest blogger, Allison Arnett, M.S., R.D., registered dietitian, Beaumont Weight Control Center, talks about keeping the cost for organic food lower and responds to Stanford University’s recent study that concluded there’s little evidence that going organic is much healthier.
If you frequently think you would prefer to buy all organic foods if they were not so expensive, you are not alone. I am commonly asked by patients if they should eat all organic foods or if there are certain organic foods that they should definitely purchase.
First, let’s set the record straight, the word “organic” is not synonymous with healthy. Cookies, sugar cereals and granola bars that are organic usually have equal amounts of sugar and fat as their conventional counterparts. Avoiding these foods in general can shave a few dollars off your food budget.
The Environmental Working Group compiles an annual list of the vegetables and fruits containing the most and least pesticide residue; thus, those which would be more important to buy organic. Sometimes being creative with these foods can be helpful, for example buying frozen organic blueberries or buying organic blueberries in bulk when they are on sale and freezing them can trim a few dollars off your food budget.
Buying organic meat, poultry and dairy is another topic that was discussed in the study. Conventional items are usually treated with antibiotics and growth hormones, which are not used in organic meat, poultry and dairy. Buying organic meat and poultry in bulk and safely dating and freezing these items is again a good option. Make sure you follow appropriate safely guidelines when freezing and defrosting these foods.
When my clients have young children, I recommend buying organic milk when possible, as it is often consumed daily. I also recommend that my clients eat meatless once or twice a week, choosing a vegetarian protein like beans, lentils or soy which is far less expensive than animal protein, making it easier to work within a tight food budget and still eat well.
To follow a healthy diet, first focus on eating a variety of fruits and vegetables every day. If you can, try some of these tips to include organic foods, but be sure to use common sense and “compare apples to apples.” I would rather my patients eat a conventional apple than a bag of organic chips any day!