Eco-Living Magazine

Going Organic, Part One – FOOD

By Greenandlovely @ecolovely

Going organic… it is more than a fad, it is an all encompassing lifestyle that truly affects every part of your life. Easier said than done? Not really if you know the health difference you are making for yourself, the planet, and future generations. All you have to do is commit and change what you buy. There are so many amazing resources to guide you in the right direction, and I will provide you with my favorites. I believe that to start going organic is a 3 part process – food, beauty and home. Don’t get me wrong – I know that there are a million more ways to be green and organic, I just think that these are the starting points and the places where everyday consumers like you and me can really make a difference.

Every dollar you spend is a vote for what you want to see on the shelves.


The best first step is looking at the produce you buy. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has a great guide called the “Dirty Dozen” which lists the produce with the highest amount of pesticides, there is also the “Clean 15″ for those with the least since organic produce is typically more expensive. I would still recommend trying to buy all organic produce since that is the only way to know you are not buying something Genetically Modified (GMO). Here is a great guide – How to Read PLU Codes. There are lots of reasons to stay away from GMOs, both ethical and health reasons. It is hard to believe that organic/non-GMO food isn’t the norm and not everyone is demanding it (YET). I think what it comes down to is “you don’t know what you don’t know,” since 2 years ago I also did not know and happily shopped at my local national chain supermarket buying whatever was on sale blindly trusting that they were selling ‘safe’ food; actually, not even knowing it was an issue. It is a chain of groups that rely on you not to know so they can maximize their profits. It begins with initially buying the cheapest raw ingredients (obviously these would be not organic and most likely GMOs). If we can break the start of the chain we can really make a difference in how Americans eat. (This goes much deeper into another topic about Monsanto, which I will save for a later post.)

Next step is dairy, here is the Organic Trade Association’s Why Buy Organic Dairy Products? . I want my milk, cheese, yogurt, etc to go through organic standards just like I want my produce to especially since these involve animals and their welfare too. I am not going to get very deep into meat since I am a recent vegetarian, but if you do eat meat, just be sure that it is organic. Care2 has a great list of Top 10 Eco-Friendly Reasons to Buy Organic Meat & Dairy. Or you can do what my parents do, they buy a ‘share’ of an animal and then they know exactly where there meat is coming from. There are lots of local CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture) that you can find or turn to, Eat Well Guide, or Eat Wild which all have resources for local farms and all types of CSAs. I am thinking about joining one myself for a local produce and egg delivery.

Last is processed food – this ranges from flour to peanut butter to tortilla chips. You have to get in the habit of reading your ingredient labels. You can start by going through the foods you have in your own fridge and pantry so you know what not to buy again. The less ingredients the better, and there are of course ingredients to avoid like high fructose corn syrup which is in the process of changing its name to ‘corn sugar.’ Good rule of thumb – if you don’t know what the ingredient is (or how to pronounce it) it is best to be avoided. Here is the Top 10 Food Additives to Avoid from Food Matters. Watch out for green washing with items that say “natural” even “100% Natural” doesn’t mean much – just read this recent article about Wesson Oils. You can only be sure if it organic if it has the USDA Organic Seal:

going organic, part one – FOOD

The processed foods that get complicated to figure out if they are organic/non-GMO are probably foods that you shouldn’t be eating anyway, and if you can’t find something you love, try to make it yourself! There are so many organic brands now and they are available beyond your local health food store, even Safeway has their own ‘O Organics’ brand that you should be able to find almost everything on your shopping list.

Here is some supplemental info and videos….

Say No to GMOs has excellent information and resources.

Another great site is the Organic Consumers Association (OCA) which has amazing resources and a thorough Buying Guide as well as 10 Reasons to Buy Organic

More films:

The Future of Food

Food, Inc.

And if you want motivation to be a vegetarian Glass Walls & Meet your Meat – CAUTION: Not for the faint-hearted!

Okay, this was a pretty intense post, but a hugely important topic. Stay tuned for PART TWO: BEAUTY, which I promise will be more fun!

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