Organic September is in full swing with a lot of events around the country to give you a chance to taste some delicious products, try out some fabulous workshops and take advantage of some fantastic offers.
The Soil Association is the main organisation certifying products in the UK and its seal of approval gives you the peace of mind that the product you are buying meets strict organic standards.
When it comes to food, buying organic means buying produce that has been grown without harmful pesticides and herbicides. This reduces our exposure to nasty chemicals and also helps protect the environment, wildlife, biodiversity and preserve the health of the soil we grow food in.
When you buy organic meat, you can be sure that the animals have been raised with higher levels of animal welfare with very limited use of antibiotics. Conventional animal farms will use antibiotics to treat disease and to promote growth. In comparison, organic farming solely uses antibiotics when the animals are sick – which is rare as they tend to be kept in salubrious and less crowded surroundings.
While organic makes the most sense for health, animal welfare and the environment, it, unfortunately, comes at a higher price. I would love to be able to buy organic food all the time, unfortunately, it would make it impossible to balance our family of four food budget.
Still I try my best by following the tips below.
CLEAN FIFTEEN™ AND DIRTY DOZEN™
The EWG’s Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce™ is updated every year. While it is US-based, it provides a good overview of what to look out for here in the UK.
The Dirty Dozen™ is a list of produce that have been found to contain the most pesticide residues. You’ll find there strawberry, apple, peach, celery, spinach, kale, cucumber etc..
The Clean Fifteen™ such as avocado, asparagus, aubergine, cauliflower etc.. by contrast, have relatively low levels of chemicals. Whenever possible I buy organic fruits and vegetables from The Dirty Dozen™ list and am not as diligent with The Clean Fifteen™ . EWG also points out that “The average potato had more pesticides by weight than any other produce”, so this is another vegetable I tend to buy organic. You can download both guides here.
LESS MEAT, BETTER MEAT
The flexitarian diet is not only the opportunity to have a more plant-based lifestyle. Reducing the amount of meat in our diet has meant a cheaper grocery bill. Yet, as a family, we have chosen to use these “savings” to buy better meat whenever we need to and the kids only eat organic meat at home. A lot of the organic box schemes will have some organic meat available. You can also sign up for an organic meat box and freeze some of the contents to spread out the costs.
EGGS & MILK
By cooking more vegan food, I use less eggs and dairy. But when I need to, these are two products I buy organic without breaking the bank. Yes, there is a small price premium which I am willing to pay as it is fully justified by the benefits of organic farming towards animal welfare.
GROW YOUR OWN
Growing your own fruit and vegetables is a great way to save on food bills. If you do not have a big outdoor space, you can grow things in pots and containers on a patio or windowsills. We converted our garage roof into a salad garden (being high up also had the advantage to discourage snails and slugs).
Harvested and processed when they are fully ripe, frozen vegetables and fruits are packed with nutrients. Frozen produce tend to be cheaper than fresh produce especially for fruit and are so useful out of season. I tend to have my freezer well stocked with organic goodies, taking advantage of multi-buy offers.
MAKE YOUR OWN
A lot of organic snacks, smoothies, juices, cakes, desserts, prepared food, sauces, yoghurt etc… come at a premium. Making your own is not only fun and also cheaper. Pay a visit to your local health store for bargains on bulk supplies. Keep it simple and healthy. Browse my recipe collections for ideas for homemade snacks, soups, smoothies etc..
For more information on Organic September please visit the Soil Association website.