When people begin to “go natural” or transition to a lower chemical filled life, organic food is usually a first change made. Buying organic can cause a rather large reaction to sticker shock when you go to the grocery store the first time. There are days when I see my grocery bill and I cringe. Thankfully my husband is very good at creating budgets and he has helped me cut down costs on groceries over the years. Before you make any changes I would definitely encourage a review of how much you currently spend weekly/monthly and then proceed with making changes to your buying habits. You do not have to increase your budget to buy organic, you just need to develop some savvy habits.
Fruits and vegetables are often the easiest foods to switch to organic. I think it is also one of the first places you should make a change in your buying habits. One of the biggest concerns with non-organic food is pesticide exposure and GMO seeds. Pesticides should be avoided because they are toxic by design. They have been linked to brain and nervous toxicity, cancer, hormone disruption and skin irritation. GMOs are “living organisms whose genetic material has been artificially manipulated in a laboratory through genetic engineering. This relatively new science creates unstable combinations of plant, animal, bacteria and viral genes that do not occur in nature or through traditional crossbreeding methods.” GMOs actually are restricted in over 60 countries, like Japan, Australia and the European Union. As found on the Non-GMO project website, “A growing body of evidence connects GMOs with health problems, environmental damage and violation of farmers’ and consumers’ rights.”
Spending more time researching the side effects of pesticides and GMO’s can be alarming, but that does not mean every fruit and vegetable you buy has to be organic. The EWG develops a yearly list called the Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce. They have two lists: The Clean Fifteen and The Dirty Dozen, ranking produce that has the lowest pesticide exposure to the highest. Now the EWGs list is specific to pesticide exposure only, so if you are concerned about GMOs then buying organic is the safest option. When something is certified organic in the US it generally means that it does not contain GMO ingredients.
I definitely recommend utilizing these shopper’s guides to help you make better choices and to not over spend on produce that has low pesticide exposure.