Family Health 101: Be a savvy shopper when buying organic

As the economy continues to go down, more families are seeking ways to save on money at the grocery store. More families are wanting foods that are nutritionally good for their families without the added junk. It does not mean buying from a box is the cheapest way to go. And what about organic foods? Are they worth the extra cost? Yes and no, there are certain foods that you should buy organic and foods that it doesn't really matter. So here is a list of foods you should buy organic and how to have money leftover for Friday night pizza.

The Environmental Working Group puts out a list each year on the dirty dozen fruits and vegetables. The top 12 produce starting with the most contaminated:

* Peaches (contains approximately over 10 different pesticides)

* Apples

* Sweet Bell Peppers

* Celery

* Nectarines

* Strawberries

* Cherries

* Pears

* Grapes (Imported)

* Spinach

* Lettuce

* Potatoes

These are the produce you want to purchase organic. You can download a wallet guide at Food News or download onto your iphone for free.

What about dairy and meats? More consumers are purchasing organic milks and cheeses because they do not want the added hormones and antibiotics into their milk supply. Organic milk is the number one purchase for organic consumers. If organic is not an option for you, then buy non-treated dairy products, which will often say it on the label, but you have to read the label. You may be wondering if it matters. Well if Starbucks offers hormone free milk only, then these trend setters are telling you something. Other chains that offer hormone free dairy products is Wal-Mart brand milks, Safeway, Kroger's, Chipolte, Ben and Jerry's (which has never used milk from treated cows) are just to name a few.

Here is the low down on organic meats. It is way too expensive and does not have the same health benefits as grass-feed beef. Organic beef cost 15 to 20 percent more than grass-fed beef. A 2008 study by the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry found grass-fed beef to have 2 to 6 times more CLA and omega 3's. Studies have shown CLA to promote muscle growth and fat burning in the body. Both have added value to every cell in our body for optimal health. CLA is also known as the cancer fighting fat. Unfortunately CLA and omega 3's are not found in conventional or organic beef. Grass-fed beef is less fatty (because they are able to roam freely and get exercise) and is four times higher in vitamin E. These cows eat grass which has far more nutritional value to the cows and is better digested than grains of cornmeal, soy and wheat. And if that is too costly, then purchase your meats that says free of hormones and antibiotics, again read your labels.

Let us not forget eggs. Anything that is certified organic or certified humane is better than free range/cage free and all natural. (there is no clear definition when it comes to all natural, so don't be fooled if a product says "all natural"). If eggs are certified organic that means they are inspected by the USDA once per year, they are un-caged, hens are allowed outdoors where they eat an organic, vegetarian diet and are antibiotic free. The nutritional value is much higher than any other. They are higher in vitamin A, D and folic acid, (hint, the darker the yellow in the yolk means it has more vitamin A and D). These nutrients are lost if they are kept indoors (if they are free range, that means they get the sun where these important nutrients comes from).

If eggs say free range/cage free most likely live indoors full time but have room to walk, perch and nest. They may be fed anything as there are no regulations on how they are fed or how they live. When the eggs say fortified with omega 3's,they are most likely being fed flaxseeds and other sources to help fortify their eggs, if you do not supplement with omega 3's then this may be a good choice for you and your family.

If your family goes through a dozen eggs about twice a month, it may be worth the splurge, if you are going through eggs like you wash your family's laundry and cannot afford to splurge, then go free range/cage free.

Putting it all together: Look for organic, free-range (or pasture-fed) eggs for the most health benefits.

Use this guide to choose how you spend your money on organic groceries. Determine what is best for your family and their health and well-being.

Jasmine Jafferali, MPH, is the Program Coordinator and an instructor for Educational Fitness Solutions, Inc., Professional Certificate in Women's Personal Exercise Training and Wellness. She has a diverse fitness background with over ten years of industry experience in campus recreation, corporate wellness, and the commercial health club setting. To learn more about her program, visit: http://www.efslibrary.net

This article was published on 26 Sep 2009 and has been viewed 1292 times
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