Gentle Beginnings Birth & Wellness Center


Buying Organic Where It Counts

Disclaimer: I am not an organic guru, nor do I eat the ideal organic diet all of the time! I may or may not have an addiction to Chik-Fil-A and craved McDonalds during my pregnancy. Like most of you, I try my best where I can and don’t stress the small stuff! These are just some things that have helped me in my journey towards healthy eating!

All over the country it seems people are gravitating towards more organic lifestyles. Realizing that many fruits and vegetables are full of pesticides (and God knows what else), families are dishing out the dough for the comfort of that little green and white label.

You can hear about this movement in the news, but it seems the “natural circle” in which we fall into there is a much higher conviction (read: pressure?) to ditch the chemicals. Of course, we all want to put healthy things into our bodies and rid ourselves of toxins and other vitamin depleting chemicals, but let’s be honest. Living organically can get EXPENSIVE. When the paycheck is running thin, what do we do? We shop at Walmart. We buy what is cheap. Because that’s what we have to do to feed our family! A few years ago, overwhelmed with the realization that nearly ALL food that is purchasable has chemicals and toxins in it, everything I put into my basket had that USDA Organic label on it. For months, despite my poor bank account screaming “noooo!”, I bought nearly everything organic. Eventually, I couldn’t keep up with it. So, I started looking into this whole “organic” thing, seeing where it mattered and where it was just a pretty label. There are many people who know MUCH more than I do, but here are some tips that I have learned along the way that will save you money and keep you healthy.

The Dirty Dozen
There are 12 fruits and vegetables that contain the highest amount of pesticides and toxins. These have been nicknamed “the dirty dozen”. So, if you can afford to buy some organic produce, this is where you want your money going! These are:

Bell Peppers

The produce that doesn’t necessarily matter, and can be bought non-organic are:


Take One Step at a Time
I liked to kill myself trying to change our ENTIRE lifestyle in one grocery trip. To avoid getting overwhelmed, choose one thing to focus on for a few weeks, then move on to the next. For example, I started with the produce listed above, then moved on to meats, and so on. Right now I’m focusing on getting rid of processed foods, even organic ones.

What’s in the Label?
I found that I was paying a pretty penny for “natural” and “free range” things, not knowing that those labels might as well have said “i heart unicorns”. So, now I either get the cheap stuff or try to find what I’m looking for at a farmers market. I don’t want to pay for a nice label!

100% Organic means the product must contain 100 percent organic ingredients.

Organic means at least 95 percent of ingredients are organically produced.

Made with Organic Ingredients means at least 70 percent of ingredients are organic. The remaining 30 percent must come from the USDA’s approved list.

Free-range or Free-roaming is a misleading term applied to chicken, eggs and other meat. The animal did not necessarily spend a good portion of its life outdoors. The rule states only that outdoor access be made available for “an undetermined period each day.” U.S. government standards are weak in this area.

Natural or All Natural does not mean organic. There is no standard definition for this term except with meat and poultry products. (USDA defines “natural” as not containing any artificial flavoring, colors, chemical preservatives, or synthetic ingredients). The claim is not verified.
(sourced from nutritionist, Joy Baur)

Healthier substitutes
Use whole wheat pasta and breads instead of white flour pasta. Huge difference. Great protein source! Same applies for brown rice vs. white rice.

Better yet, use quinoa pasta!

Use sucanat in place of white or even raw organic sugar. Sucanat is real sugar, not a sugar substitute, but is less processed so it contains the original nutrients leaving out the negative effects high temp processing has. (Can you believe it? Sugar having nutrients such as iron, calcium, vitamin A, vitamin B6, potassium and chromium?)

Raw milk and cheeses vs. Pasteurized. Whole ‘nother blog post. Do your research!

Extra virgin olive oil and coconut oil. Steer clear of canola, vegetable and definitely soybean oils.

Make your own salad dressing! Dd you know most dressings contain soy, canola and/or high fructose corn syrup? Making your own is super easy and saves you money too.

Side Notes:

Boxed, canned or preprepared foods are unavoidable a lot of times, especially with children, working a job, etc. But beware, just because they say organic doesn’t mean they are healthy. Still processed! It’s always best to serve fresh ingredients when possible!

While breastfeeding, my appetite is…well, large. As in, a salad and some fruit a lunch does not make. I have learned that snacking on fruit, veggies and nuts/grains between meals helps me get my produce in without being left hungry after lunch.

A GREAT way to get local organic produce on the cheap is to get involved in a co-op! J

What are some other ways you save money while avoiding processed foods and chemicals?? Share in the comments!

Happy Living!


Hannah CarriganComment