I’ll be the first to tell you I’m not rich. In fact, I’m actually poor. I’m not even a member of the middle class when it comes to my income. Thankfully, I have a warm roof over my head, and a plot of the backyard in which to grow my own organic produce.
That said, I do realize that a lot of other people are in the same boat or worse, some with children. Eating healthy meals, in particular, eating healthy vegetarian, vegan, or raw meals doesn’t have to break the bank. I do think, however, it’s important to have your priorities straight when it comes to spending your income and feeding yourself and your family: health is an investment. It’s 100% worth buying the best you can afford when it comes to the food you put into your body. In the end, you will save money on medical bills, and will have a more vibrant quality of life. You will save money in other areas too, depending on how far you take it. You’ll probably save money on cosmetics because you’ll look better. You’ll save money on clothes, because you’ll look good in anything. You’ll lose weight, feel better, and look better.
I personally cannot afford to buy all of my produce organic. I do make sure to buy any greens organic, as well as any fruit or veggie of which I eat the skin. This is because I am trying to minimize and avoid my exposure and intake of pesticides, insecticides, fungicides, herbicides. I came across a wonderful organization called the Environmental Working Group (EWG), which offers a plethora of information on consumer products and foods and our health. One of the resources I found especially helpful was a list of the most and least important produce to buy organic. I especially appreciate the free iPhone application, called The Dirty Dozen. If you learn why pesticides are dangerous to you, your family, and the planet, you will feel more inclined to buy organic when you can (do a search on YouTube, or Google). For instance, commercial produce contains maybe 40% the nutrients contained in organic produce. Cook that produce, even lightly steam it, and you lose all the enzymes and at least 70% more of its nutrient value. …on top of which, pesticides have been linked to such disorders as ADD/ADHD, infertility, Alzheimer’s, and cancer. We’ve been duped again.
It’s an unfortunate truth that you can get far more bang for your buck, calorie-wise, buying processed foods. In fact, Adam Drewnowski, an obesity researcher, performed an experiment demonstrating just that:
Drewnowski found that a dollar could buy 1,200 calories of cookies or potato chips but only 250 calories of carrots. Looking for something to wash down those chips, he discovered that his dollar bought 875 calories of soda but only 170 calories of orange juice.
Drewnowski concluded that the rules of the food game in America are organized in such a way that if you are eating on a budget, the most rational economic strategy is to eat badly–and get fat.
This is straight up ass-backwards. Why should it be cheaper to buy a Twinkie, which contains a disturbing 39 ingredients, compared with, say, a pound of apples? Which contain, well, one ingredient? Unfortunately folks, the Big Business of Big Agriculture does not have your best interests in mind. In fact, being in bed with Big Pharma means it’s better for all of them if you eat shitty, processed foods and get sick. Better yet, with chronic illness. That translates your dollar into tens of thousands, even hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of profit to these suckers. Clearly, we’re the suckers. This is why it’s so worth it to spend your dollar on whole foods, versus the processed crap lining the inner aisle of your supermarket. Nutrient for nutrient, it will be a dollar better spent, and in the longer run, you’ll be healthier and happier.
I’ve found my Farmer’s Market to yield some great deals; $1.50 for a large bunch of organic greens, for example. I can get even better deals by shopping later in the day, around closing time. Getting to know vendors can help too. In Ventura County, there is literally a FM every day, somewhere. Locate a local FM here. Being such a banana freak, easily eating three bunches or 10-20 bananas per day, I’ve scoured for discount fruit everywhere. Smart and Final gives me the best deal, where I spend about $0.39/lb for my banged up, “overripe” bananas. YEAH RIGHT. Because I only eat my fruit very ripe (see this link to get a feel for what your fruit should look, feel, and taste like when it’s properly ripened), this is PERFECT. In fact, my discount bananas still need a couple of days to freckle up before I will eat them. Ask the produce manager at your supermarket if he can sell you “baking bananas” or other “overripe” produce at a discount rate. Albertson’s gives me a measly $0.50 off my bag of “baking bananas, but hey, it’s something, in a pinch.
Here are 25lbs of discount bananas I picked up yesterday for $10.00
I bought these USDA Certified Organic grape tomatoes at the 99 Cent Store.
The truth is, we have all heard you are what you eat, and the majority of us really do want to eat healthier. Be happier. One of the most important decisions you make today will be what you choose to eat. Re-framing thoughts like, “I’m depriving myself by not eating that Twinkie” with “I am nourishing my body and mind by drinking this green smoothie” can help a lot. Not to mention, fresh, ripe produce is simply delicious. Having a strong basis in knowing why you want to eat healthier, and feed your family healthier meals, will strengthen and motivate you. I recommend identifying your own reasons, doing your own research. I guarantee you will experience a shift in the way you choose your food, and, really, in your life.
Just thought of this after it came up in a comment. Because most people can’t afford to buy all organic produce, here’s how to neutralize the pesticides in the inorganic commercial stuff you buy:
Lemon/Baking Soda Wash
1 Tbsp. lemon juice – (natural disinfectant) 2 Tbsp. baking soda (neutralises the PH level of pesticides)
1/4 cup vinegar (cleans the fruits and vegetables and neutralizes most pesticides)
2 Tbsp. salt (draws out dirt and insects)
1 Tbsp. Lemon juice – (natural disinfectant) 2 Tbsp. Vinegar (cleans the fruits and vegetables neutralizes most pesticides)
Fill a sink or a large bowl with water and the above ingredients (depending on the method you choose) and let the vegetables sit for about 20minutes then rinse or else you can fill an empty water bottle and spray onto your produce and then rinse and wipe.
- The Environmental Working Group, egw.org
- The Full List of 49 Fruits & Veggies, EWG’s produce shopping list.
- The Dirty Dozen iPhone app (FREE).
- You Are What You Grow, the supermarket dollar study.
- Victoria Boutenko’s Green Smoothie Recipes (DELICIOUS).
- Find a Farmer’s Market near you
- What Does Ripe Fruit Look/Taste/Feel like?
- Food, Inc.