Shopping organic broke my budget until the Dirty Dozen and the Clean 15 rescued me!
The Dirty Dozen and Clean 15, lists of highly contaminated produce and those not so, respectively, are easing my organic shopping experience. Indeed such meticulous shopping had been overwhelming to lil ole me and my lil ole budget. But when I was challenged with a conversation with a very bright, fairly well-educated person who stated that it was unnecessary to choose organic produce. I was surprised since there has been overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Sure there is produce grown conventionally that is safe enough, but those on the Dirty Dozen list seem to be the most inviting, especially while in season. (Imagine strawberries melting in your mouth…yum!) And because of their appeal, some otherwise thoughtful people may just want to overlook the safety of what they are eating.
While I wondered what her information resource was, it occurred to me that she might have heard the evidence but not accept it simply because the evidence is indeed overwhelming. And in more ways than one. It seems that once a fact is learned, the change required creates an emotional response. (All change is stressful.) Seemingly, when it impacts finances, an additional stronger emotional issue presents itself.
It’s overwhelming to think that choosing the “more affordable” produce has the potential of costing more in the long run, in the form of doctor bills, diagnostic tests, harsh treatments, time spent in the hospital or in transit for treatments, the cost of wigs and special prostheses. Then there’s the anxiety that accompanies the wait for test results, not to mention the final good-byes that often result. (I have first-hand experience on this topic and do not mention this callously, but I can’t help but wonder if eating more selectively could actually be a better “affordable healthcare” plan.)
Yes, it is overwhelming to think that organic foods are more costly than conventional foods that have been rising in price themselves. How is one to feed a family with quality food under these circumstances? Can we say “garden”? Is that out of reach? Then, can we say “farmers market”? At least the produce is fresher(that is with less need for preservatives), if not certifiably organic. If the big box store is the only option, can we suggest skipping the traditional treat aisles full of chips, ice cream, cookies, and other irresistible sugary and salty processed foods so that a few organic items can fit into the budget? Now that’s another overwhelming change. But small changes add up to big improvements. That’s what I’m talking about.
The Dirty Dozen is not the sole reason for being overwhelmed while menu planning and pantry stocking. It’s challenging to sort through the conflicting information brought by special interest groups such as Monsanto, who among many others, lobbied to keep GMO information off labeling so that many will merrily fill their shopping carts with convenient and tasty but disastrously damaging meal choices. (I struggled here. I was about to write “food” choices, but most of what lands in grocery cart is not real food. Sorry. Food should be fuel, not just satisfying to the taste-buds and the bottomless pit of a belly. Most of the convenient processed food just dissolves into sugar and then solidifies to fat, or so it seems.) That challenge is more complicated to manage since packaging is designed to keep us in the dark. But the question of what produce to choose and which ones to forego has been simplified.
Okay. Okay. Let me lighten up and make this easy. I repeat, some produce does not need to be organic. It depends upon the types and number of pesticides that were used on the fruit or veggie crop. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) provides detailed explanation about this, and while you’re there, you’ll find the Clean Fifteen™, those that don’t have to be organic. To assist you when shopping, EWG has a handy list of the Dirty Dozen™ on bag tags to make your time in the produce department not so…you know… overwhelming.
(If you’re like me, and just can’t stick to the better choices, you may want to consider doing a detox now and then. Don’t let that scare you. There are gentle ways to do that so that all you need is a glass of water and a reasonable distance to the bathroom. Click to read about the one I use.