There are many perceptions and misconceptions about what eating healthy actually is, and what it actually should cost.
People often say they can’t afford to eat healthy or that they’re too busy to eat healthy. Another common saying I hear is that organic food is more expensive and the only difference is the price.
“With self-discipline, most anything is possible,” said the 26th President of the United States, Theodore Roosevelt. When people intentionally make an effort to make a life change, it is possible.
What eating healthy is depends on a person’s lifestyle and the way they’ve been conditioned. Eating healthy actually starts with making small changes, and choosing what you feel is the better option. The first step is to increase your intake of fruits and vegetables, while decreasing the purchase of highly processed and refined foods. Doing that will set you on the right direction to a healthy path, and you’ll notice that the overall cost is lower than you thought it would be.
Between work, families, and paying bills, people’s lives tend to be busier than ever. While those commitments are important, people should also be aware that proper nutrition and diet should be made a priority in their lives. Calorie-heavy food and convenience should take a backseat to foods with proper nutrients.
One of the biggest problems people face with regards to healthy eating is knowing what’s actually healthy and what’s not. With organic food, for example, a 2012 study from Stanford University researchers didn’t find any significant health benefits of organic produce, compared to conventionally grown produce. However, an earlier study in 2007 out of Newcastle University in the United Kingdom found that organic produce was 40% higher in vitamin C, zinc, and iron when compared to conventional produce.
What explains the contradictory results? The health benefits of organic food versus conventional food debate can be a clouded haze and other factors such as where the study is done, the type of study completed, and the study design should be taken into consideration.
Whether or not organic is better for you, it is certain that your organic produce doesn’t contain chemicals such as synthetic pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, or fertilizers. Although organic foods can cost more, you’re making an investment in your long term health.
Here are three cost efficient ways to increase your fresh produce intake, and also implement organic fruits and vegetables into your lifestyle as well—without breaking the bank.
1. Watch What You Buy
In business, the Pareto principle (80-20 rule) suggests that 80% of your sales come from 20% of your clients. This can be applied when shopping in your grocery store, where you would purchase 80% produce, compared to 20% products. In this scenario, whether or not you buy organic, at least you’re consuming an adequate amount of fruits and vegetables into your diet. When you buy products such as nut butters or pastas, consider buying natural products with fewer ingredients.
2. Buy Inexpensive Organic Food
Farmers’ Markets: Farmers’ markets are open spring to autumn, and contain fresh organic produce in season. Some vendors will sell produce in bundles, giving you more and saving for less. It is also a great opportunity to meet your local farmers, and stay connected with your community.
Join a food co-op: Another affordable option is joining your local food co-op, which allows organic and natural food to be accessible at rock-bottom wholesale prices.
Get it delivered: Community-supported agriculture programs are also a great way to obtain affordable organic food. At the start of the growing season, your organic produce would be delivered until the end of the harvest.
Grow it yourself: The square feet of your yard will determine how many fresh vegetables and herbs you can grow. However, incorporating food from your garden into your meals will ensure your food is fresh, organic, and at an affordable price.
3. The Dirty Dozen
Certain types of organic produce can reduce the amount of toxins you consume on a daily basis, according to the Environmental Working Group. The organization of scientists, researchers, and policymakers compiled two lists. “The Dirty Dozen” is a list of 12 fruits and vegetables that you should plan to buy organic, because the non-organic variety contains a high amount of dangerous pesticides:
- Domestic blueberries
- Sweet bell peppers
- Leafy greens (spinach, kale and collard greens)
- Imported grapes
“The Clean 15” contains fruits and vegetables with fewer pesticides so buying the non-organic kind is fine:
- Sweet corn
- Sweet peas
- Kiwi fruit
- Sweet potatoes
- Sweet onion
Eating healthy can definitely be challenging, but it doesn’t have to be as expensive as you think. These three tips can help save you a lot more than just money in the future: they’ll save you your health.
Brandt, M., “Little evidence of health benefits from organic foods, Standford study finds,” Stanford School of Medicine web site, Sept. 3, 2012; http://med.stanford.edu/ism/2012/september/organic.html.
Lippert, M., “Organic—or Not? Is Organic Produce Healthier Than Conventional?” Eating Well web site; http://www.eatingwell.com/food_news_origins/green_sustainable/organic_or_not_is_organic_produce_healthier_than_conventional.
Pou, J., “The dirty dozen and clean 15 of produce,” Need to Know on PBS web site, May 13, 2010; http://www.pbs.org/wnet/need-to-know/health/the-dirty-dozen-and-clean-15-of-produce/616/.
“10 Secrets to Affordable Organic Food,” All You web site; http://www.allyou.com/food/family-meals/affordable-organic-food-00400000064710/page7.html.