Despite the conflicting messages we are often exposed to about fitness and food, this much is clear: exercising and eating clean go hand-in-hand in working towards a healthy lifestyle. I think for many people, including myself, eating well is fine and dandy, but it usually falls by the wayside when schedules get busy, and it can carry with it particularly stubborn habits that are hard to break.
That being said, I believe eating clean is a process, one that requires good planning and baby steps to achieve, and one that recognizes that there are going to be slip-ups but that it’s nothing to be ashamed of. We all deserve a treat once and awhile!
But no matter what step you might be on, I want to propose the next change you can make to complement the process: start eating organic, or start eating more of it.
Organic has certainly become a buzz-word in agriculture, but all of the marketing hype aside, when it comes down to it organic fruits and vegetables are better for you and for the planet.
Organic food, among other things, means that no chemical pesticides or fertilizers were used in their production. These synthetic substances contribute to the harmful greenhouse gases that are propelling climate change and pesticide residues are certainly not doing any good to your body when you ingest them.
So if organic food is better for you, everyone can just go out and start eating strictly organic food, right? Unfortunately no. Many people will agree with the argument but will come to a halt when they see the price tags above the organic produce section. I mean it’s often virtually twice as much as conventional fruits and veggies; that’s a huge burden on any budget.
So is it worth it?
Well let me propose this to you: Ladies, we go to the salon and spend $20-50 on a mani/pedi because we value having good-looking nails; fellas, you spend upwards of $200 on a pair of shoes because you value good style (you ladies certainly aren’t exempt from that either); and we spend $20 to go to the movies and eat over-priced popcorn because we value good entertainment. So I guess the question is how much do you value your health?
We spend all this money on improving our appearances or buying fancy things, but what good is all that if we’re poisoning our insides and the planet? You say you can’t afford to buy organic produce? Well think about what you’re deciding you can afford to buy in its place.
I mean isn’t that the fundamental wish we all have? To be happy and healthy? And yet we push that to the back of our conscience when we’re standing there comparing prices. Maybe that was the case when you were buying that pair of shoes – what drove your decision then?
It’s a difficult problem because you can’t necessarily physically see your health or climate change and it’s easy to think that no harm is actually being done by buying non-organic, but believe me, it’s there. And one day we are all going to have to pay the price. (Haha, I just realized what I did there). Still unsure? David Suzuki’s Queen of Green sums up the issue nicely, as well as provides strategies for offsetting some of the increased costs of buying organic.
That being said, it would be unrealistic to assume that you could just have an epiphany and immediately begin living off of that little organic section in your local supermarket. But never fear, this is where you can start!
Next time you’re shopping, mosey on over to that stand and look around a little. You don’t even have to touch, you can just soak in all the organic goodness with your eyes.
But once you’re ready to make a change, just begin by committing to buy one type of fruit or vegetable organic. How do you know what to pick? Luckily, The Environmental Working Group is here to help! They’ve published a Dirty Dozen List of the top 12 fruits and vegetables with the highest pesticide residues and that are the most important to buy organic. Spoiler alert: apples, celery, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers and grapes round out the top five.
They’ve also published a Clean 15 List that lists the top 15 fruits and vegetable that score the lowest on pesticide residues and that aren’t as critical to buy organic, so your wallet can be happy about that.
Slowly you can begin adding more and more from the Dirty Dozen list onto your “to buy organic” list – just start with that one. While you’re at it, maybe you can start experimenting with adding a meatless day to your weekly menu! Too much? Ok, I apologize, maybe that was reaching a bit. Either way, make that organic switch. Your body and the planet will thank you for it.
I’ve committed my first buy to apples (heads up: organic apples have a bit of a different taste to them..more earthy, if that makes any sense). What’s yours?