I feel sorry for what I’m about to write.
This is a post about organic food. Or rather, how to make better food choices based on where your food comes from. It’s a strictly useful, informative and dare I say somewhat boring post. But I’ll take one for the team and do it for the greater good.
As it turns out, in recent conversations over lattes and vino I have realised that there’s still a lot of confusion over organic, grass fed, free range and just, you know, “normal” foods. It has taken me a while to learn to navigate the misty waters of official designations and food regulations and I’m sharing all my findings with you.
As usual, I will over simplify for your (and mine) benefit.
In an ideal world we’d all have a corner shop freshly stocked with seasonal, organic, affordable foods. This would have been obviously locally sourced and grown/ reared using sustainable methods.
I would also not have cellulite, whites and would never, ever raise my voice to my perfectly behaved children.
My point? Organic is usually better but there’s often a trade-off: convenience and price also count.
Getting to the point, for what foods does it matter the most to buy organic?
All hail organic fruit and vegetables!
As a rule of thumb, if you’re eating the skin, buy organic. This applies obviously to apples, pears, nectarines and so on. Does not matter for bananas or avocados. Also applies to leafy greens or vegetables, like spinach, kale or broccoli. There’s a useful “official” list called the Dirty Dozen . Buy these organic. Also check the Clean 15 for the list of fruit & veggies where you can get away with the regular stuff.
My favourite fruit and vegetables supplier has been for a long time Abel and Cole. They really have organic down to a T.
What’s the deal with meat?
Well, this is a bit trickier. Animal rearing can go really, really wrong, from caged chickens who never get to step out in the field to cows fattened through the use of antibiotics. You don’t want that kind of toxic food going into your body. But is organic worth the price premium?
Interestingly though, you don’t need to purchase certified organic meat for it to be great quality. Often small farmers may not follow the official organic rules on animal welfare but there’s doing as a good a job nevertheless and their meat won’t break the bank. The key here is to make sure you purchase your food from a butcher who knows exactly where the meat comes from – and knows it comes from a supplier that respects animal welfare and don’t feed them junk.
I order a monthly meat box from Field and Flower, who source their products directly from the farm. It tastes delicious and I know I’m nourishing my body with the good stuff.
What about fish?
I have two words for you: go wild. Or don’t go at all. Specially when it comes to one of the nation’s favourites: salmon. The amount of crap they feed these guys in fish farms is shocking, from weird colorants to make them look nicer, antibiotics and of course let’s not forget that they’re trapped so they swim around each other’s sh*t. Sorry, but it had to be said.
Wild is not the same as “certified organic”. Fish freely swimming around in the sea aren’t busy ticking food rule boxes. But that’s fine with me. I’m lucky to have a great local fishmonger I trust but there are also delivery services for great quality fish.
A final word for two of my favourite foods: eggs and dairy. Buy organic. It’s worth paying extra. End of.
These are my food choices. They may not be perfect, but neither is life. Prioritise and find what works for you.
At the end of the day what matters the most is to eat real, whole foods. So if they’ve run out of organic carrots at your local Tesco’s, don’t make that an excuse to reach out for the “healthy vegetable crisps” instead. Buy the “normal” carrots and be merry.
Hope this has helped, everyone! As always, drop me a line if you have questions and I’ll do my best to answer.