Welcome to my Blog about Food and Well-being!

I am often asked to share my knowledge of food and recipes. After changing my diet four years ago from a typical "Western" diet to a mostly whole-foods and plant-based diet, I have seen incredible changes in my health and well-being. I have spent countless hours researching and love helping those who are ready to feel better. The underlying theme? YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT. Read on to find out more.

Monday, April 21, 2014

When Does "Organic" Matter? Top Foods to Buy Organic

Organic foods are everywhere these days and because there is so much demand, the price for most of these items has steadily declined. Consumers are more aware of the pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers used on the foods we ingest and serve our families. Buying organic can cost more, so it may help to know which foods are the worst offenders so you can focus on those.

Organics doesn't necessarily mean healthier
There's been a lot of buzz in the news lately about research showing organic foods are no healthier than conventionally grown. Here are a few points I'd like to make about this claim:

  1. It's not that organic foods have more nutrients than conventional foods/produce, but that they DON'T contain potentially hazardous chemicals, hormones, antibiotics, etc.
  2. Organic processed food is still processed and isn't as good for you as whole, real food.
  3. Organic cane sugar and evaporated cane juice still has the same number of calories and inflammation capacity as conventional sugar
  4. You still need to read labels because sometimes food manufacturers will claim they are organic but only have a few organic ingredients
Organically-grown foods mean they are not genetically modified (non-GMO), were not sprayed with conventional pesticides or herbicides, and the animal was not given non-organic food, artificial hormones or antibiotics.

The TOP foods buy organic
  • Corn (if not organic, it is 99% likely to be genetically modified)
  • Soybeans (edamame and tofu) (if not organic, 99% likely to be gmo)
  • Berries (strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries)
  • Grapes
  • Apples
  • Greens (lettuce, kale, collards, chards, spinach, mustard greens, watercress, etc)
  • Tomatoes
  • Cucumbers
  • Peppers (bell peppers, mostly)
  • Cilantro
  • Parsley
  • Carrots
  • Garlic, Onions and Potatoes (if not organic, they are sprayed with a sprout inhibitor called Bud Stop that prevents naturally-occurring sprouts to form)
  • Green onions
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Peaches
  • Plums
  • Pears

  • All meat, poultry, eggs and dairy (non-organic meats/eggs/dairy can contain high levels of antibiotics, hormones and GMO because these animals are fed GMO corn. "Natural" means NOTHING.)
  • Buy all fish WILD CAUGHT (farm raised means they can be fed GMO feed, injected with food dyes to make salmon look pink and kept in tanks vs the wild)
  • Deli meats and bacon (if you can't find organic, at least buy "Preservative free" which means no nitrates or sulfates are used to preserve it)
  • Grains (rice, bulgur, spelt, barley, millet, amaranth, etc)
  • Seeds (quinoa, sunflower, chia, sesame)
  • Nuts (coconut is the exception)
  • Coffee
  • Any product containing corn or soy (including corn, canola and vegetable oils)
  • Oils (olive, grapeseed, avocado, coconut sesame and walnut oils are great alternatives to corn, canola and vegetable oils, but if you must buy those, buy organic)
  • Flours 
  • Breads
  • Tortillas 
  • Chips (especially corn-based and those fried in corn, canola or vegetable oils)
  • Cereals
  • Oats
  • Granola/cereal/energy bars
  • Soy sauce and tamari sauce (both are made with soy so you want it non-GMO)
  • Dried fruits
  • Fruit juices
  • Nut butters
I hope this cheat sheet helps you save pennies where you can and invest where you should. If your grocery store doesn't carry these items, start asking! The more demand, the better chance you'll see it. 

I confess, I go to a couple of grocery stores because my main store often doesn't have a few of my items, especially tortillas, flours and grains, but I stock up and freeze if possible. I always encourage you to buy locally through farmer's markets, community supported agriculture (CSAs) or grocery stores that carry locally grown produce. 

Good luck and reply to this blog with questions!