When I first started my training to become a health coach I knew it was going to be the best thing that ever happened to me. I was convinced that it was going to really confirm that my super strict gluten free, dairy free and 100% organic diet was the best way to go, and it would help me get other people on board with that too.
Boy was I wrong.
Sure I learned a ton about nutrition, but one of the most profound things I was able to walk away with from Integrative Nutrition was not to be so rigid and uptight about what I was eating. The stress of it was doing me more harm than good.
What I learned about organic farming has especially changed my perception on the foods I buy. Don’t get me wrong; I am in no way advocating pesticide use, GMOs or factory farming. I think organic farming methods are a vital part of the process to revive the health of our planet. I do still buy a number of things that are certified organic, but I’ve discovered that there are some definite grey areas that are worth addressing:
Local non-certified produce
Even though it may not be certified organic, produce from a small-scale farm may have still been grown with organic farming methods.
Look for signs that say “pesticide free” in lieu of “organic”.
Becoming certified organic can be a very costly process. Just because a farm hasn’t invested in the certificate doesn’t mean that their produce is of any lesser quality.
Do some research into where your food comes from, or better yet: head to a farmers market and ask your local farmer. Many farmers opt to grow their crops without pesticides, and you may not even know until you ask.
As a bonus, local produce will often be more nutritious because it hasn’t had to travel as far as say, an organic apple from the other side of the world.
Each year the Environmental Working Group (EWG) puts out a list of produce with the least amount of pesticide contamination. This list is called the Clean Fifteen, and is a godsend for anyone who is shopping on a budget and wants to limit their exposure to potentially harmful pesticides.
The items on the 2014 list, which have been found to be the least contaminated are as follows:
-Sweet Peas (Frozen)
The EWG also puts out a list of produce that is the most heavily contaminated by pesticides called the Dirty Dozen. This is the one area where I am most diligent in my shopping, and make sure that if I’m buying something from this list is has been grown without the use of pesticides (either organic or pesticide free from a local farmer).
By avoiding conventionally grown items from this list you will be able to substantially reduce your exposure to pesticides from foods. If you don’t want to spend a fortune buying only certified organic produce, that’s fine. But if it’s on this list, your best bet is to opt for “pesticide free” or organic:
-Sweet Bell Peppers
-Snap Peas (Imported)
-Kale & Collard Greens
Wherever you are on your journey towards living a healthier life, remember that food should be an enjoyable experience. If you find you’re stressing out of every detail of your grocery list, take a deep breath, relax, and remember that a non-organic apple is still better than a bag of chips!
Stop by Chelsey’s website to get your free copy of her popular e-book: “You’ve Tried Everything To Lose Weight (But You Haven’t Tried This)” where Chelsey opens up about her personal weight loss struggles, and shares the system that finally worked:www.ChelseyBenzel.com and connect with her through Facebook, Instagram and Twitter!
Photo credit: Liz West