A lot of people hesitate to spend a few extra dollars to eat right. It is essential to think big picture when it comes to our day to day eating/spending habits. I’m going to give you some things to consider when making your grocery list and help you understand what you should consider for your family’s food supply. When we make shifts in our lifestyle that are meaningful we are more likely to stick to it. Even if weight loss is not a concern, simply making small changes here and there to get closer to a plant-based local, organic diet will change your life.

You may think that you are saving money at the grocery store today buying conventional produce over organic, but the impact on your health could be the most costly. You can cut some corners and still make the best choices for your health. Every year there is a list produced by the Environmental Working Group that indicates the produce that is most heavily sprayed with toxic chemicals, the Dirty Dozen. Those with the least amount of chemical residue are referred to as the Clean Fifteen. Keep in mind, if you are lucky enough to be near a farm that you trust, these lists don’t apply.

This year’s Dirty Dozen list (Updated for 2021), which you should make sure to buy organic when available:
1. Strawberries
2. Spinach
3. Kale, Collard and Mustard Greens
4. Nectarines
5. Apples
6. Grapes
7. Cherries
8. Peaches
9. Pears
10. Bell and Hot Peppers
11. Celery
12. Tomatoes
(Oranges are also of concern for a “cancer-linked” chemical)

The “Clean Fifteen” are the fruits and vegetables which will be the safest to save money on and buy conventionally grown.
1. Avocados
2. Sweet corn*
3. Pineapple
4. Onions
5. Papaya*
6. Sweet peas (frozen)
7. Eggplants
8. Asparagus
9. Broccoli
10. Cabbage
11. Kiwi
12. Cauliflower
13. Mushrooms
14. Honeydew melon
15. Cantaloupe(1)

When buying and eating organic foods you are not only helping clean and heal your body of all of the chemicals that are used in conventional produce. Most importantly you are sending a message to those who buy/supply these places that this is important to you. This will encourage it to become more common place. Eating more organic food will lead farmers to care for the land better, thus ensuring a healthier and more productive future for our children. Vote with your fork.

Now, to save some confusion… the USDA “Organic” label is far from perfect and it is best to find a local farm that you trust is caring for the land at standards higher than that sticker would indicate.

I used to toil with the fact that it was too expensive to eat this way, but your family’s health is more than worth it. It is also is much less expensive in the long run if you are sparing your family from the chronic diseases that are caused by the chemicals in conventional produce.

Consider a local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). By shopping from your local farms you are supporting the future of your local economy. There are different models and all farms grow different produce, so look around for what is best for your family. The typical CSA is usually a weekly share of vegetables and fruits that the farm distributes based on what they grow. There is also a CSA model which you receive a pre-paid card and shop at the farm/market as you wish. Look around and if you don’t find something that suits you perhaps you can request it or create it in your community. Farmer’s markets are also all over the country and a great way to support the local economy. As a bonus: Eating produce grown as close as possible to where you live has been found to reduce allergies.

The biggest cost savings with eating a healthy, well-balanced diet is the avoidance of the medical industry. It is so important to be in control of your health and the health of your family.

If you are able and you have a green thumb, do your best to grow as much of your food as you are able to. You can find local farms that sell heirloom seeds. It will blow your mind when you get to reap what you sow. When you eat real food, from the earth as it was generations ago, you will never look back at the “food” that is sold in the interior aisles of the supermarket again. Buying seeds and growing your own food is also a way to find some cost savings while eating in the healthiest possible manner.

Having a green thumb is such an incredible gift. I am slowly going from black thumb to brown thumb, this is not a lesson I am prepared to teach. Last year most of what I planted failed, but I am determined to keep trying. One of my beds I referred to as the plants’ hospice as that is the best way I could describe my skill and the plants’ fate.

The most important reason behind eating local and organic is your health. Boosting our immune system with natural, local foods that are not laden with chemicals will keep us out of the doctors office (saving us money and more pain inflicted by the pharmaceutical industry) and living life on our terms. Beyond that we must consider taking care of the land so that the next generations have something to work with and don’t have to spend as much time repairing the abuses of our generation and the one before us.

I hope I was able to offer you some new information or motivation to get back to natural health!

  1. EWG’s 2021 Dirty Dozen List. (2021, March 17). Retrieved from <https://www.ewg.org/foodnews/>
About Julie Parkis

About Julie Parkis

Mom, MBA, Yogi, CIA grad and food enthusiast looking to share knowledge of food/cooking and general wellness information.

I am happiest in the kitchen with people who love food as much as I do!

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