Making the Most of your Organic Purchases

Food plays a critical role in a healthy body and a healthy life.

With today's increase of environmental toxins, it has become even more important to use high quality food which contain minimal pesticides, hormones and processing. While access to such foods, namely in the form of organic, can be easy to find, more important in today's economy is how to afford the organic options. For although organic products have come down in price over the years, most are still above their commercial counterparts.

To help prioritize getting the most bang for your organic buck, it can be helpful to look at the different contamination rankings of foods and categories in terms of what is the most harmful. In the fresh fruits and vegetable categories, I find the "dirty dozen", a list with the 12 most contaminated items of produce, to be invaluable. I recommend laminating a copy of these items and keeping it in your purse or wallet so you will have it when you shop.

12 Most Contaminated Produce Items

  • peaches
  • apples
  • sweet bell peppers
  • celery
  • nectarines
  • strawberries
  • cherries
  • pears
  • imported grapes
  • spinach
  • lettuce
  • potatoes

In addition to produce, I place a high priority on organic or naturally raised meats. Due to being higher on the food chain, the animals build up all the toxins of the food they eat which you then ingest when you eat the meat. In the Midwest, there are many local farmers who aren't necessarily certified organic but use most of the practices. If you're willing to do the research, you can find great options and have the benefit of supporting local, independent farmers as well.

And my final priority category for non-commercial spending is dairy due to the high use of bovine growth hormone (rGBH) in commercial cows. Milk from rBGH-treated cows contains higher levels of the hormone Insulin Growth Factor 1 (IGF-1),which is considered to be a high risk factor for several cancers including breast, prostate, colon, and lung. In addition to the cancer risks for humans, the cow given rBGH also experience higher rates of problems such as mastitis, a painful udder infection. To treat the infections, the affected cows are treated with antibiotics, which naturally end up in their milk which we drink. For everyone, an increase in antibiotic use furthers the creation of antibiotic resistant bacteria. If the organic dairy dairy is too pricey, make note that you can usually find non-rGHB butter, cheese, and milks in your natural health stores. Most will be marked accordingly but if in doubt, ask and the staff will direct you to your options.

©2011, Jamie Durner, Certified Ayurvedic Practitioner & Wellness Educator at Ayurveda Wellness in Pewaukee, WI