After reading our personal story The Two Things That Made Our Family Choose Organic Food as well as Is Buying Organic Food Really Worth It? and conducting some research, you may be thinking about eating organically yourself. And you may find yourself where we found ourselves at first: overwhelmed! If you’re wondering how you can go organic, you’ve come to the right place. We will share with you the steps we took to eating mostly organic food.
- Start with dairy. Through research we decided that we wanted to start our journey into organic eating with dairy. We made dairy our first step because we were concerned with the injections cows receive as well as their potentially genetically modified diets. We are also a family that eats a lot of dairy. Once we decided to start with dairy foods we replaced milk, cheese, butter and yogurt with organic options as we ran out.
- Research the ‘dirty dozen’. Each year a list comes out which notes the twelve foods that have the highest pesticide residue. We were quickly able to incorporate organic versions of many of the dirty dozen into our grocery trips. Some items are even less expensive if you buy them frozen.
- Research the ‘clean fifteen’. Alternately, a list comes out every year that tallies the fifteen foods that are least likely to be contaminated with pesticide residue. We often buy conventional produce found on this list. Using the dirty dozen and clean fifteen lists can help you make changes that ensure you are still getting lots of fresh produce with as little pesticide residue as possible.
- Buy organic meat and eggs. Once we had transitioned to organic dairy and well chosen organic produce, we moved on to meat and eggs. We began eating less meat when we decided to switch to organic foods because of our concerns with what was in it. Once we got into the habit of eating less meat it became easier financially to buy only organic meat. At this point we eat meat once a week or less. We realized we have more energy and feel healthier when we consume less meat. It definitely helps with the budget too!
- Buy organic processed foods. We decided to start by looking at the ingredients of the processed foods we regularly purchased. Things like mac and cheese and tomato based products were some of the first organic processed foods we bought. We felt strongly about consuming organic dairy and we eat a lot of tomato based products. (Tomato is on the dirty dozen list). Look at the foods that you eat a lot of and evaluate where you should start. Again, as we ran out of these foods we replaced them with their organic counterparts.
By following these steps we are now eating mostly organic food. We do sometimes eat an old favorite food that has no organic option. Also, we still go out to eat and most restaurants have limited, if any, organic food. We follow the 80/20 rule. This means that at least 80% of what we eat is organic, while 20% or less is not.
Remember that this takes time. It is a fluid process and some weeks will be easier than others.
What is your best tip for transitioning to an organic diet? How do you balance organic food with conventional food?