September 2, 2015

What to Buy (and Not Buy) Organic

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Organic items are all around us, but the question we must ask ourselves is: to buy or not to buy? When the items are more beneficial, the increase in the price tag may very well be worth it. On the other hand, some organic products may not live up to the hype, making the non-organic version the smarter choice for your wallet.

What to Buy Organic

© Rhett Maxwell (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr

The issue is chemicals. The debate is over how our bodies process them and if they have an effect on us at all. For foods that could put you at risk for cancer or other issues, even if the research is not fully conclusive, you may find the peace of mind you get from sticking to the organic aisle is something you can’t put a price tag on.

  • Celery: possesses the highest concentration of pesticide residue of all the fruits and vegetables tested by environmental groups. You should also be cautious when purchasing carrots, lettuce and spinach.

  • Food in BPA-free containers: such as bottled water and food in glass containers rather than cans

  • Popcorn: contains PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid) in the lining of the bag. PFOA has been linked to cancer and adverse effects on the endocrine, immune and nervous system.

  • Beef: contains hormones and antibiotics used to stimulate growth

  • All-purpose home cleaners: harmful chemicals can affect the respiratory system

  • Mattresses: contains PBDE (polybrominated diphenyl ether), which has been linked to behavioral, learning, and memory issues

  • Yard pesticides: contains carcinogens that could take a toll on the brain and nervous system

  • Fruits with edible skin: these include pears, strawberries, peaches, apples, blueberries, nectarines, grapes and cherries. The pesticide residue on the surface could be a threat to consumers.

  • Cookware: emits a fluorochemical that could cause allergy-like symptoms

  • Tomato sauce in cans: contains BPA (Bisphenol A), which has been linked to reduced sperm count in men and breast cancer in women

  • Milk: contains IGF-1, which some health experts view as a cancer-causing agent

  • Baby food: non-organic baby food may pose a greater health risk to infants due to the presence of pesticides

What Not to Buy Organic

© sneakerdog (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr

Many other items don’t warrant the higher prices you’ll find in the organic aisle. Here are five items you shouldn’t bother buying au natural and the reasons why:

  • Papayas, mangos and avocados: skin is very thick, and not edible

  • Eggs: no growth hormones present

  • Frozen food in plastic bags: research has found that harmful chemicals are eradicated by cold temperatures

  • Spices: contain too small a quantity of pesticides to inflict harm on the human body

  • Clothing: large quantities of pesticide rarely remain on the surface of the clothing after they have been manufactured

How to Save Money Buying Organic

It’s no secret that going the natural route can take a toll on your wallet. Fortunately, there are ways to save a little dough.

  • Pay attention to the sales
    Always check the weekly circulars from your favorite grocer that stocks the organic items you like. When the moment happens, stock up.

  • Buy in bulk
    Have you checked your local Sam’s Club, Costco, BJ’s or other warehouse club? Most have organic items in stock waiting to be purchased in bulk at a very affordable rate. Just be sure you’re not stocking up on perishable items like pints of strawberries that won’t be consumed within a few days.

  • Use coupons
    Peruse both the store and manufacturer’s website for coupons if you don’t find what you’re looking for in the weekly circulars. Also, try joining the mailing list to take advantage of the promotional offers sent to subscribers.

  • Reap rewards
    If your go-to retailer for organic goods offers a customer loyalty program, be sure to sign up. Once you reach a certain spending level, you may be eligible for a transaction discount or free item. Similarly, look into getting a credit card that will give you an especially good deal on your grocery shopping (some rewards cards provide a higher percentage of cash back for supermarket purchases).

  • Shop around
    As the saying goes, don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Just because you’ve been a loyal shopper to a particular grocery store or retailer doesn’t mean that you can’t explore other options. Comparison shop and go with the most affordable store. It may be a bit time-consuming, but the savings incurred will make it worthwhile.

  • Farmer’s markets
    These community-driven events, featuring the goods of local farmers, offer natural, fresh produce at decent prices. If you haven’t spotted one in your area, be sure to visit Local Harvest and use the online directory to find a market near you.

  • Do-it-yourself
    If all else fails, grow your own organic fruits and vegetables. And it doesn’t stop there, as you can find a ton of helpful tips on how to produce an array of other household items the natural way. For creative ideas, visit Wellness Mama, Good Housekeeping, Living Well Spending Less and Pinterest.

While these are just a few suggestions to help you live a natural and healthy lifestyle, they demonstrate that with a little effort, it can be done.

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