Who Can Afford to Eat Organic? Maybe You! (part-3)
I have good news for you. You can make great strides in eating “healthier” food without buying everything labeled “Certified Organic”. I need to take a moment to define what I mean by “healthier food” outside the definition of making the good choices of what food to eat, i.e. fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meat and dairy.
1) Organic food is healthier in my opinion by the mere fact that it isn’t produced with pesticides, herbicides, hormones, antibiotics, etc. The organic label isn’t perfect but it goes a long way towards letting you know what is NOT in your food. I’m sorry to say that organic food can still be processed food. There are lots of organic convenience products made with organic white flour and organic sugar. These are better than the non organic versions but not healthy food in my opinion. They are also usually quite expensive.
2) Chemical free food. Some growers and food producers provide food products that are free of chemicals but they have chosen not to go through the very expensive process of becoming certified. This is especially true of local farms where you can often ask what they use or don’t use on their crops.
3) Meat and Dairy products produced with out growth hormones. Even the Aldi brand milk is now hormone free, yeah! Even better if these products are antibiotic free and vegetarian fed. Vegetarian fed means they aren’t fed animal “by products” but still could be fed GMO feed. Even better if you can get grass-fed and finished beef, pastured pork, free range or pasture raised poultry and eggs from pasture raised poultry. Find out more about buying grass-fed beef here.
4) Non-GMO (Genetically Modified Organism) foods. The primary sources of GMOs in today’s food supply are GMO corn and soybeans and any products made from them (corn sugar, soy protein and many more)! There is a long list of things made from these products but many GMOs are found in processed foods. They are also used in animal feed. While I can’t tell you that if you eat an animal that has been fed GMO feed it will mean that you are also consuming GMOs, I would rather find alternatives.
5) Un-processed, whole foods. When I think of processed food, I think of Hamburger Helper. Here are the ingredients of one variety: Processed foods are often convenience foods. They often contain added sugar, preservatives, dyes, flavoring agents and more. They are engineered for long shelf life and designed to stimulate the tastes you love, especially salt and sugar. You don’t add sugar, corn syrup and partially hydrogenated soybean oil to your homemade ground beef casserole, do you?
6) UNfast Food. I know that isn’t really a word, but slow food has a different connotation and even it’s own movement, really. Fast food is often processed food and rarely whole food. Here is a list of ingredients for KFC® cornbread muffins:
Water, Sugar, Yellow Cornmeal, Soybean Oil, Enriched Bleached Flour (Wheat Flour, Malted Barley Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamin Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Whole Egg, Corn Flour, Contains 2% or Less: Nonfat Dry Milk, Leavening (Sodium Acid Pyrophasphate, Sodium Bicarbonate, Monocalcium Phosphate), Lemon Flavoring [Corn Syrup, Water, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Oranges, Lemon Peel, Food Starch Modified, Lemon Juice Concentrate, Natural Flavor, Citric Acid, Sodium Benzoate and Potassium Sorbate (As Preservatives), Yellow 5, Titanium Dioxide (As Color)], Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate, Propylene Glycol Mono and Diesters of Fats and Fatty Acids, Mono and Diglycerides, Soy Lecithin With BHT and Citric Acid to Help Protect Flavor, Sodium Carboxymethylcellulose, Sodium Alginate, Glycerol, Maltodextrin, Artificial Color (Yellow 5 & 6), Salt.
I counted 38 ingredients but I guess it depends one whether you count the ingredients of some of the ingredients (confusing). My corn bread recipe has 8 ingredients.
I hope that isn’t overwhelming. Food and how we consume it has changed dramatically over the years. We all have different family types, schedules and cooking experience. Eating organic or just “healthier” food is a process. Some healthier choices will not increase your food budget one bit! They might even lower your food costs! Hormone free milk is no more expensive than non-hormone free milk.
Action Step: Switch to hormone free milk. Several of the major brands in the KC area, like Highland, are already hormone free. Look for meat that is antibiotic and hormone free and poultry that is antibiotic free (hormones cannot be used to raise chicken in the U.S.-find more information here). These products are already at your local grocery at regular or sales prices.