Going Organic – Gradual Steps for Healthier Family Eating

Have you tried reading food ingredient labels lately? It can be like trying to read a foreign language. As parents, we strive to provide our children with a nutritious, balanced diet. However, as consumers we may unknowingly purchase a never ending list of products that that contain pesticides, growth hormones and antibiotics, and other unwanted or even toxic chemicals. So lately, I read more labels and have found myself gradually purchasing more and more organic products. But where do we draw the line? Let’s face it…whether based on availability or sheer affordability, it’s a challenge to buy everything organic.

So that brings me to an old Earth Day episode of Oprah that aired recently. Among her featured guests was Sophie Uliano, author of the eco-conscious book “Gorgeously Green – 8 Simple Steps to an Earth-Friendly Life.” Sophie gave an excellent starting point for parents like me, who need some extra guidance on the whole organic movement.

Here are the common children’s food items Sophie recommends parents purchase organic whenever possible:

  • Baby Food.    Non-Organic Fruits and vegetables contain large amounts of pesticides and babies are extra vulnerable to pesticides. 
  • Animal Bi-products – Dairy, Meat, and Eggs.   Non-organic dairy, meat and egg products contain growth hormones and antibiotics given to animals. 
  • Apples, Grapes, Potatoes, Strawberries, Green Beans, Cucumber, Raisins, peaches, nectarines, pears, spinach, lettuce, bell peppers, and cherries.   These non-organic produce items have been found to contain the highest levels of pesticide residues. 
  • Peanut Butter.   Some non-organic peanut farms use fungicides or chemicals to treat mold. 
  • Rice (brown, white and wild).   Non-organic rice is grown in large amounts of pesticides. 
  • Corn, Wheat, Oats.   Non-organic corn, wheat and oat products contain organo phosphate pesticides and are found in many processed foods, like corn chips and popcorn that are common snacks for our children.

If you can’t buy organic produce, an important step you can also take to help reduce pesticide exposure from fruits and vegetables is to use a fruit and veggie cleaner. You can find them in your produce area at most grocery stores or use the easy to make recipe provided by Sophie Uliano.

Fruit/vegetable cleaner recipe:
1 cup water
1 cup white vinegar
1 tbsp baking soda
20 drops of grapefruit seed extract

Combine ingredients in bowl and transfer to spray bottle. Spray mixture onto produce and rinse after 5 minutes.

So while it is almost impossible to buy everything organic, there are certainly items we expose our children to more than others. Perhaps going organic on these products will be a good start to healthier food choices for our families. After all, every little change makes a big difference.

What are your thoughts on buying organic foods?

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7 thoughts on “Going Organic – Gradual Steps for Healthier Family Eating

  1. I started doing some research into organic food about a year ago. Initially I was buying EVERYTHING organic, however over time I started to streamline my list. Now I try to stick to the “dirty dozen” for produce and then make informed choices for anything other than produce. Marketers definitely latched on to the whole ‘organic’ push and now are trying to get you to buy anything and everything organic for a more expensive price tag – even the items that don’t matter if you buy it organic or not. My advice? Do your research before just blindly buying food – both organic and not!

    • this is a great point!! it’s so easy to get wrapped up in the marketing buzz words, but you don’t always need to purchase an item just because it says it’s organic. doing your research ahead of time is key to giving your family the best foods possible.

  2. I’ve heard of the dirty dozen, but I hadn’t heard that you should buy rice organic and I’ve heard mixed things on buying peanut butter organic. I’m going to have to look into both of those. It’s a shame it’s so expensive to stay healthy and so cheap to be unhealthy!

    • Ugh, ditto to this. It’s so much cheaper to buy unhealthy/processed foods than it is to buy organic. I just try to make the best choices for my family with the budget we have – that’s all anyone can really do anyway, right?

      • THIS! Though I do think it’s important to remember that sometimes it’s worth it to pay a little more up front to head off sickness, etc. later on.

  3. Although many studies have claimed that the amount nutrients found in organic and non-organic foods are the same, there have been some that proved otherwise. Just consider the fact that the artificial fertilizers used to make non-organic crops look more appealing increases the water content of the produce. Because of this, you can bet that organic produce has more dry matter than inorganic food. Hence, you will find more nutrients in organic food.

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