Here are some shortcuts to getting the benefits of organic without the cost:
• Avoid synthetic colorants.
• Choose foods without labels, which are better than packaged foods.
• Wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly, preferably with a vegetable brush, which can enhance pesticide removal. Some foods absorb more pesticides than others and are easier to clean. The top five common items that I recommend always be washed are peaches, apples, sweet bell peppers, celery and nectarines.
• Peel fruit if possible since that removes pesticides and allows you to save money by buying nonorganic.
• Buy seasonal fruits. It lowers your grocery bill. And bear in mind, frozen veggies retain most of the health benefits of fresh ones.
Most important, remember: When it comes to food, buy organic if you can afford it to help the planet. If not, you can still eat healthily with a few precautions. Food is an affordable medicine for all of us.
The feed given to the hens may include organic supplements like flaxseed meal, which increases vitamin A and omega-3 acids and improves taste. The birds are better treated too, with more room to move around.
Price: $4.39 a dozen for grade-A large brown eggs
The pluses are price and availability. It’s just easier and cheaper to buy nonorganic.
Price: $3.79 a dozen for grade-A large brown eggs
Verdict: Organic. The treatment of the birds seals the deal. An industrial hen in a battery cage is not a pretty sight.
Cows that produce organic milk are not treated with antibiotics or hormones; this is especially important, as drug-resistant bacteria and early-onset puberty in girls continue to be on the rise.
Price: $6.39 per gal.
Cost. There’s real sticker shock in paying a $3.50 premium per gallon, especially if you have milk-gulping kids in the house.
Price: $2.89 per gal.
Verdict: Go organic if you can; the extra chemistry in commercial cows is just too much.
Grass-fed cattle have a higher ratio of omega-3 acids, which may reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease. There may also be a lower risk of E. coli transmission thanks to reduced crowding.
Price: $6.59 per lb. for 85%-lean ground beef
One word: taste. Grain-fed beef is fattier; that means tastier. Another word: price. Grass-fed beef is simply out of reach for many people.
Price: $4.49 per lb. for 85%-lean ground beef
Verdict: Opt for organic if you can afford it; it’s better for you — and much better for the cows.
The pesticide risk is lower, and if the food is local and in season, it will taste better than produce that ripens during shipping. Better for the planet too.
Price: Bananas, 54¢ each.
The price is lower, and not everyone has a handy farmers’ market close to home. There is not much nutritional difference between conventional and organic produce.
Price: Bananas, 45¢ each.
Verdict: Conventional. Eating any produce is better than not eating it at all. Price matters — though the environment does too.