There are so many reasons people turn to an organic lifestyle, but in our generation, the primary reason is health. Sadly, it can take a cancer scare or diagnosis to make someone seek out chemical-free food and other products.
Whatever your reason for choosing organic, rest assured that doing so can do you no harm. Studies like to tell us organic food is no more nutritious than conventional, but these rarely study the micro nutrients and cancer-fighting antioxidants of fresh organic foods.
Most people opt for organics because of what’s not in them, such as petroleum-based pesticides, herbicides, growth inhibitors, paraffin wax and so on.
But the process of “going organic” can be incredibly daunting – not to mention expensive. As with any major lifestyle change, the key is make it gradual. Start where you are, use what you’ve got and do what you can.
Commit to eating whole foods
When it comes to organic foods, the most expensive are those that are packaged or prepared, such as sauces, ready meals, yoghurt and so on. Your health and your wallet will both benefit if your diet contains more whole foods than packets. This might mean making your own sauces, baking more and choosing snacks like nuts and vegetable dips rather than something processed.
Phase organics in
If you were to dump all the non-organic foods in your cupboards, the beauty products in the bathroom and the cleaning products under the sink, and replace them with organic or natural versions, you’d need a small loan! Instead, use up what you have then, when you replace it, do so with a cleaner version.
Buy in bulk where you can
Think about the things you eat and use the most. Do you eat a lot of oats or red lentils? Do you go through lots of dishwashing liquid, moisturiser or washing powder? If you can, buy these items in bulk through your whole food shop or an online distributor. This will reduce the cost significantly.
Eat less meat
Organic meat is around three times the cost of conventional (comparatively, fruit and veg are usually double). You may need to adjust your diet slightly so you are eating small amounts of meat and making up your protein requirements with eggs, lentils and seeds.
Buy fresh, in-season fruits and vegetables
One of the hardest parts of switching to organic food is finding a good source of fruit and veg (here’s a hint: you’ll pay through the teeth at the supermarkets). Is there a co-op in your area? Or a farmers market where you can talk to the suppliers and find out how they grow their food? There are also plenty of box-schemes, where a set box of organic produce is delivered to your door, and community supported agriculture schemes such as Food Connect or Ceres. Once you’ve found a good supply, stick to it!
Australia is a big country and many of us have gotten used to having our favourite produce available year-round. As with conventional fruit and vegetables, if you’re buying something that has been shipped between Queensland and Melbourne in cold storage, you’re going to pay more. Instead, reconnect with the seasons and buy what’s cheap and plentiful in your local area.
Don’t forget your cleaning & beauty products
Cleaning up your food supply is just one aspect of “going organic”. The next phase is ridding your home of harmful chemicals. A blend of half water, half white vinegar with a dash of eucalyptus oil will clean just about anything, and there are plenty of good quality, affordable personal-care products now available. Look for them in your chemist or health-food shop.
Have you made the switch to organics? What motivated you to do so?