I was delighted to visit with my friend and fellow nutritionist Erika Weissenborn this morning. We enjoyed licorice tea and baked oatmeal on this very rainy day in Vancouver. As we caught up, I quickly remembered how wonderful she is and how fortunate I am to have people like her in my life. It is easy to look ahead and be excited or anxious about what's to come, but she reminded me the importance of staying present and being thankful for what we both have accomplished. I shared with her a conversation I had had earlier this week with another friend who asked, "What would you suggest to someone who can't afford to buy organic, but wants to eat well?" I have a few tricks of my own, but I thought Erika's insights were extremely constructive and important to share before giving my tips. She expressed the importance of understanding that our most valuable possession is our body not our money. If we can change our thoughts to put our health first, we would never worry about spending a little more on organic, locally grown foods. I understand we live in a world where the bottom dollar is usually the deciding factor, but all I ask is that you try to keep your body in mind when grocery shopping, choosing what you want for dinner, and deciding how you want to live your life.
You are your most important asset so choose to do things that are best for you
Why Buy Organic?
Organic foods have been shown to contain significantly higher amounts of vitamins and minerals. They are not chemically sprayed, which means your body will not be ingesting any harmful pesticides that can affect your digestive system, cardiovascular health, and brain function. Organic also means non-GMO (genetically modified organism) a.k.a. the seeds have not been scientifically altered in a lab. GMO foods are quickly taking up the majority of shelf space in supermarkets and it has been shown the body cannot assimilate them the way it can 'naturally' grown foods. Furthermore, infertility, immune function, accelerated aging, and irregular blood sugar are among some of the serious health risks associated with genetically modified foods.
Tips for Saving Money When Shopping Organically
- Shop in Season - Organic produce will always be more most economically when in season. I try to buy larger amounts of fruits and veggies when they are in season and then freeze/dry/can them. This helps us save money and enjoy fruits like blueberries all year round.
- Buy in Bulk - I worked as the bulk foods manager at the Market on Yates before moving to Vancouver to study nutrition so I know just how cost-effective shopping in this department can be. I buy all my grains, legumes, and nuts in bulk, which saves on money and packaging. When I look at some of the packaged food prices as I am perusing down the aisles, I am constantly shocked to see the huge jump in prices within the same store.
- Use Handy Apps - I recently discovered the Non-GMO Project Shopping Guide app for iPhone, which lists all the certified non-GMO foods by brand and product and it is free! This app lists all organic and conventional products that are certified non-GMO so you can feel confident about the purchases you make. Many larger supermarkets also have smartphone apps that allow you to easily view the weekly ads, download coupons, or review seasonal recipes.
- Stock-up on Sales - Some of the hardest things to transition into buying organically are more expensive items like oils, maple syrup, and cleaning products. These are items I try and keep on my radar so anytime I am shopping and see they are marked down, I will grab a bottle or two to keep in the cupboard. That way I never have to buy them at regular price, which can be anywhere from 25-50% more.
- Visit Farmers Markets - The Vancouver Farmers Markets has become one of my favourite things about this city. I love going down on Saturday mornings to buy fresh produce, honey, nuts, baked goods, eggs, and meat from the farmers themselves. If you have a question about how the food is raised you can ask them right there! Everything comes from well within 100 miles, the quality is superb, and your only option is to buy seasonally.
- Clip Coupons - Finally, you can always save money by using coupons. There are a few free booklets, like the Healthy Shopper coupon book, that I will pick up once a year, flip through, and save the ones for brands I already buy. Try to avoid saving coupons for things you don't buy, as this will only end up costing more money. You can sometimes find coupons online on the company websites that you can print-out and larger supermarkets like Whole Foods also offer printable online coupons you can use in their store.