A self-described starving student recently wrote to me asking if it’s more important to focus on organic produce or organic meat & dairy at the grocery store. I get asked this question fairly often, so let’s talk about it.
Organic food costs can easily rival student loan payments – so, if you’re young or simply on a tight budget and you have to make a choice, what do you buy? Does organic food of any kind even make a difference (aside from the dent in your bank account)? The answer, my would-be organicans, is yes.
Organic produce is grown without the use of harmful pesticides and chemicals and is environmentally-sustainable. Organic meat and dairy is raised and produced according to similar regulations. The animals can’t be mistreated (a matter of course for regular meat) and they must be fed the food that nature intended. Hormones, antibiotics and fillers are big no-no’s. Organic products of any kind, as a rule, are ostensibly good for the environment. Though there is a fair amount of weaseling and hype in the organic industry (as with any industry) that’s a topic for another time.
Don’t listen to the naysayers. Eating organic food is a healthy habit. Local and organic is even better. But, if you’re on a budget thanks to Sallie Mae, I recommend focusing on organic animal products and buying the cheaper conventional chemical-bathed produce. Just invest two bucks in a really aggressive scrub brush.
A lot of people get excited about organic produce and forget all about the animal products. But what’s the use in eating a bowl of organic salad greens topped with grilled meat that is loaded up with hormones, antibiotics, and chemicals and was fed on greens loaded with hormones, antibiotics, and chemicals? When you eat conventional animal products, not only are you ingesting your very own pharmacological experiment, but you’re supporting (and eating) the non-organic feed that fattened up that hoofed friend.
Like I always say, you can wash the chemicals off a cucumber. I’m not sure how to do that with milk (although this little one  has it all figured out).
Apples: If you have to make budget-friendly choices at the market, what do you choose? What are your tips for eating organic without breaking the bank? I’d love to hear your thoughts.