How To Start Eating Organic on a Budget


Today, being health-minded means being educated in organic and non-GMO foods – produce, eggs, milk, meats. We would all love to eat organic everything, non-GMO everything and in fact, we wished we didn’t have to make that choice. We wish that we could trust everything sold at our grocery stores and butcher shops. But unfortunately we can’t and it is becoming more and more important for us to educate ourselves.

Whether you shop organically or are looking to start, but like many of us, your pocketbook just doesn’t agree with the cost involved in going all organic, all of the time, I feel you. I was in the same boat when I started and to tell you the truth, I don’t shop all organic even now. However, there are some things I am very strict about in terms of organics.

The subject to me when I started was all very overwhelming. I needed some hard, fast rules to live by to get me started. Here is what I did to ease myself into the waters several years ago that might help you as well. This will be a quick primer for you, and I will be expanding upon the various topics and subjects in later posts but for now we are focused on small steps you can take to move forward without getting steam-rollered by all of the conflicting data out there. Doing anything is better than doing nothing as I’m sure you could agree.

The Unholy Trinity

Corn, soy and dairy are the three items that should be high on your hit list toward a healthier, pesticide and GMO-eliminating diet.

Currently over 90% of both corn and soy production in the US is genetically modified. Soy is something I tend to avoid already for other reasons, which I will share in the future. For now, if you are interested, you can Google “Is soy bad for you” and many articles come up on this subject.

So I avoid soy already and corn I buy organic. This means corn chips and other corn products. I tend not to eat things with high-fructose corn syrup already so that is not a problem for me, but is something that you should consider when cutting out non-organic corn from your life. Non-organic corn is very difficult to find for me in its pure cob form as well as canned, however, I am often able to find some good organic frozen corn at the Trader Joe’s where I shop.

If you know where in the Los Angeles area where I would be able to find some good organic corn on the cob, I have been dying for some ever since the first whispers of summer. I’ve been thinking of planning a series of farmer’s markets drive-bys, I’m getting that desperate. I’m even checking my organic CSA with every shipment to see if it is ever an add-on option for it. Oh, and if you haven’t checked out our new video series, please do so. It is something fun we are doing that will hopefully give you lots of good tips and ideas. We’d love to hear what you think!

The last of the unholy trinity is dairy. Growth hormones are used in some dairy cows to increase milk production and these hormones, known as rBGH or rBST, have been linked to various types of cancers and other diseases. It is best to buy organic milk but, at the very least, purchase dairy that is labeled as not containing rBGH or rBST.

Chicken and Eggs

Beyond shifting our buying habits in the above ways, we also began to buy organic, free-range chicken and poultry as well as eggs. The cost is not something that we feel is going to much strain our wallets and it is important to us that we are not supporting the farms and factories that are raising these birds in an inhumane environment. We have all seen the videos and images of what this looks like and it is worth the extra bucks to us to know that we are not only eating better, but doing it in a way that supports those doing it right.

Avoid the Dirty Dozen

Each year the Environmental Working Group publishes its annual Guide to Pesticides known also as the Dirty Dozen Plus and the Clean Fifteen. These lists include the twelve most pesticide ridden and fifteen cleanest produce items for the year based on the results of the USDA’s Pesticide Data Program, which samples pesticide residue taken from each of the fruits and vegetables. While there are other factors involved that I am very interested in exploring in more detail and will be doing so in a future post, using these two lists is a good introductory short-hand to follow for selecting which products you will buy organic and which may, for the time being, feel safe in purchasing non-organic.

I have created the two below infographics as a quick, pinnable and shareable guides to keep on hand when doing your daily shopping.



Bottom Line

The bottom line is, do what you can. Number one, eat your fruits and veggies. Don’t be so scared of GMOs and non-organics that you subsist without your greens. But begin with one or a few or all of these pointers. That will get you started in the right direction and will empower you to do more. You may find that the switches aren’t costing you much more than your non-organic lifestyle was previously and, like us, you may find yourself doing more and more. To your health!


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Chelsea Cohen


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