As my life has shifted over the last few years towards a healthier way of eating, I have found it relatively easy to replace my white flour with whole grain flours, my pasteurized honey with raw honey, and store bought goodies with home-made ones. There are many little changes I’ve made in my kitchen that I believe have positively benefitted my family and myself.

But there is one change that poses a challenge for me: should I be buying organically grown or conventionally grown produce?

Why wouldn’t I choose organic? After all it’s very clear that conventionally grown produce is exposed to pesticides, which can be absorbed in fruits and vegetables, and leave trace residues. Studies have linked pesticide consumption with various cancers and other diseases. Research also indicates that organically grown produce has a higher nutrient value with significantly more antioxidants and phytonutrients. Not only that, but organic produce is clearly better for the environment.

That’s a pretty powerful list of reasons why I should be buying organic, and that list only scratches the surface.

I have five kids, and I want to give them food that nourishes them, that enables them to learn well, that facilitates their healthy growth and development, but most of all I don’t want to take the chances of feeding them food that contains harmful pollutants, and yet, I still haven’t reached the point where I buy exclusively organic food.

Like others in my shoes, taking care of a large family is a costly endeavour. Just buying conventional groceries can put a huge dent in one’s wallet. Oftentimes organic produce is two or three times more than conventional produce.

What are people like me to do? We want to feed our families and ourselves with organic foods. We know it’s best.

Here are fresh produce suggestions for the “not-ready to go 100% organic” crowd:

  • Use the “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean Fifteen” lists when grocery shopping, by refraining from buying conventional items on the dirty dozen list, and buying conventional items from the clean fifteen.
  • Visit local farmers markets, and buy local produce as often as possible because it’s more likely that local farmers may be employing some organic practices, and it’s better for the environment.
  • Plant a vegetable garden where during the summer months organic vegetables can be grown.
  • Join a community shared agriculture group to get organic food prices at better prices.
  • Shop around and compare prices on organic food. Know who sells what for how much. For example there is a little shop called SunLong market in my neighbourhood where I often find select organic items at a comparable price to conventional items. I am also on email distribution lists for several of the local organic grocery stores, so I know what is on sale. This week I picked up Braeburn apples for $1.47/lb, red peppers for $1.97/lb and cauliflower for $1.97/each at Organic Garage – all amazing deals for organic, and I knew about those great prices from their e-flyer.
  • When buying conventional make sure to peel and/or clean the fruits and vegetables very well.

The government should be doing more to make it possible for the masses to eat organic food. Conventional crops are heavily subsidized by the government, which makes them artificially inexpensive (Source: eartheasy.com; organicfoodee.com). It’s time that organic crops are also subsidized, which would lower the cost, and make them more accessible.

I am optimistic that as the demand continues to increase, the time soon will come, when the prices of organic food will drop to a price point when we can all afford as much organic food as we want. When that happens I will be the first in line.

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