Buying Organic and Non-GMO Foods

open market of fruits and vegetablesUSDA Official Organic LabelShould I Buy Organic? Isn’t it Expensive?

Whether or not you choose to buy organic is up to you. There is no proof that organic foods taste any different than non organic food. However, the way organic foods are grown and the soil is treated is different. You may not want pesticides in your diet. Do you know how to tell if something is truly organic? There are also GMO foods, and people will argue the effects of GMO’s on your health. Do you know what GMO’s are and how do you feel about eating them?

First of all, let’s explain what organic is and what organic is not. Words such as natural, all natural, simply, or plain on a product label are not governed and do not mean the same thing as organic. For a food to be organic the use of certain fertilizers and pesticides are restricted, the food can’t be irradiated, and it can not contain certain solvents or synthetic food additives. There are also rules about the land the crops are grown on and if the food is meat, there are regulations on what the animals can be fed. If you see the symbol at the top left of the screen, the USDA has certified that product as organic. Can GMOs Be Used in Organic Products? No, GMO seeds can not be planted, grown and labeled as organic foods because you are growing a genetically modified organism and that’s not “natural” which is part of organic.

According to The Non GMO project, “a GMO, or genetically modified organism, is a plant, animal, microorganism or other organism whose genetic makeup has been modified using recombinant DNA methods (also called gene splicing), gene modification or transgenic technology.” As long as you see the product has the Non GMO CERTIFIED label with the orange butterfly, you can be sure the product does not contain GMOs. If produce or any other product has earned the Non GMO Certified label, it was not earned easily. To read about the entire process you can visit www.nongmoproject.org . In short, if you are eating organic, you will not be eating GMOs.Official USDA Organic and NonGMO Labels

If you choose to eat organic it will cost you a little more, but it does not have to cost as much as you may think. Some of the ways you can save on organic foods may seem obvious, but I’m going to try to cover any option I can think of just to be safe.

    • A generic/store brand organic product is just as good as a brand name.
    • Keep an eye out for sales or coupons and stock up on any dry goods, canned items, or items that can be frozen.
    • Always look in the discounted area in the supermarket, I find tons of organic items that were too pricey for most people (including me) originally, are still in date and are now at least 50% off.
    • Shop produce markets or local farms that may sell organics for a cheaper price than your local supermarket. Always shop “in season in your region”,  which means buy whatever fresh produce is in season where you live. For example, berries are in season in the summer in the US, so you may want to consider buying them frozen in the winter to save money.
    • You may also be able to get produce cheaper at both a supermarket and farmers market if it is starting to turn an off color or go bad. I always seek out the produce person at the local supermarket and ask what they do with their produce when it starts to go bad. Nearly every time, I have been able to buy produce much cheaper as soon as it was no longer pretty. Just about any fruit can be sliced, or diced and frozen for later use. Many vegetables can be open air market of fruits and vegetablesblanched and frozen for quick preparation later.
    • If whatever you buy needs to be used right away, try to think of something you can have for dinner that night or breakfast the next morning.
    • Something many people do not think of is growing their own food. You do not need much space to grow a small garden with a large variety of plants. In many urban areas there are also community gardens where each person from the community has a space in the garden and grows something different and after the crops are harvested they are divided equally among all the members. You can grow an herb garden in your kitchen window or sprouts in a couple of days in your refrigerator in a sprout grower. Just make sure the seeds you buy are Non GMO.  
    • Even though supporting huge chain stores is not my favorite thing, when it comes to buying food, I don’t usually go to a specialty store unless I can’t find what I need at a traditional supermarket.
    • If there is a co-op in town and you can become a member/investor it is a great idea and is worth exploring. The advantage and difference with a co-op, for those who do not know, is that it is owned by the shoppers. You can buy into a co-op and you will get owner’s discounts on products, special sales, and depending on the co-op maybe even some money at the end of the year. Usually, the profits are put back into the co-op to cover things such as maintenance, expansion, advertising, worker’s salary, bills, etc..

  • The other exception is something relatively new to me: ordering specialty foods online. There are many options for purchasing everything from the one hard to find ingredient to pre made meals and having them delivered to your door via the Internet. Most of these sites offer free shipping, discounts for members, have frequent sales, will email you coupons and now that have competition, they are actually affordable. You can find an array of food/meal delivery sites on the links page.Basket of fresh fruits and vegetables

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