By Serena Norr
Four years ago, I prided myself on eating healthy and I knew that would be a fantastic start for my new baby who was just starting solids. Around that time I was also learning more about organic food, and eventually learned that eating healthy and organic are two completely different things. Although eating an apple is a great snack, it could also be one that potentially contained chemicals. This is definitely not something that I wanted my new baby to ingest. What was worse was learning about the growth hormones in dairy products and the toxins contained in meat. Finally educating myself and learning a little each day about organic eating made me realize that I wanted to make the switch and eat organically (as much as possible). What started out as an idea, continued to a lifestyle where about 85% of my diet is from organic food sources. Here is how you can easily eat organic one step at a time.
Learn the Dirty Dozen and the Clean 15
This simple resource from the Environmental Work Group helped me significantly when I was learning more about the level of pesticides in our food. I cut out the card from the EWG’s website where I tried to focus on buying organic fruits and vegetables from the dirty dozen. I really found that this list helped frame what should be eaten organically as well items that are lowest in pesticide and could be purchased conventionally.
There is a big problem with our food system and as parents it is up to us to educate yourself about the industry – especially since there is now a host of health issues as a result of what our children are eating. Thanks to informative movies like Food, Inc and books like The Unhealthy Truth by Robyn O’Brien, you can start to understand food and its connection to our children’s health and wellness. There are also fantastic online resources like Healthy Child Healthy World where you can constantly learn and stay connected to these issues.
Decide Where to Start
While learning about the food system, I didn’t automatically get everything organic. To me, fruits and vegetables were the most important thing to swap since I was making my own baby food. After that, I decided to swap dairy products and then meat. I think it is important to swap what you can and add on from as you learn about where to buy affordable organic milk or where the best meat is. It is a work in progress and not a race.
Learn Where to Shop
Luckily, there have been significant advances with organic food offerings in conventional stores. Even Wal-Mart has an organic food section where you can buy milk, meat and dairy products at reduced costs. Since many people get turned off my organic food due to the cost, it will be up to you to locate the best deals. Ask around, search for coupons and buy in bulk. In some instances the food will be more expensive, but there is also the common statement that although you are spending more now, you are doing something to benefit your health so that you won’t have to pay later (in doctor’s bills).
Eating healthy is fun and it can be an exciting experience for kids as the family learns what organic and locally grown food means. I loved trying out new recipes or visiting the farmers market with my daughter as we have learned to cook in season and experiment with new recipes.
Give Yourself a Break
As I mentioned, I eat organic 85% of the time. I know that not all restaurants serve organic food, and I personally know that I still want to eat out or even having dinner at someone else’s house. Going organic means inspecting everything and unfortunately not everywhere you go will have organic food. Give yourself a break and eat organic as much as you can.
Eating organically doesn’t have to happen overnight. It is a work in progress whose rewards will significantly impact your children as you focus on wholesome and chemical-free food. The best step is through education, research and committing to this important lifestyle.
About the Author:
A Brooklyn-based writer and mom of two, Serena Norr created her original blog Seriously Soupy as a way to learn more about soups and to experiment with new ingredients. She also writes about healthy living, parenting and lifestyle topics on her blog Mama Goes Natural.
Healthy and organic are not always the same thing. Learn how to help make your kitchen both.