By Paula Sirois
I was mid-lather in the shower when it hit me, the realization that I had no idea what I was putting on my body. I just knew it couldn’t be real strawberries or lush tropical rainforests. It was chemicals. And I had been putting them on my body every single day for 40-plus years. That’s when I stopped and became organic.
So maybe your organic epiphany happened in a less lathered way. Maybe everyone you know is talking about organic and you’re afraid to let anyone accidently see the non-organic, non-healthy lunches you pack for your kids. Maybe you’re overwhelmed on how to start or think it’s too expensive or difficult. Here are some reasons why you may want to switch, along with five easy tips on how to begin.
According to a slew of reports, going organic is simply healthier for your body. Studies have shown that organic food may have higher levels of antioxidants. The chemicals and pesticides in nonorganic foods have been shown to cause a reduction in fertility, may harm your immune system and the added hormones could be a cause for weight gain. Genetically modified foods have yet to be fully tested, so the potential effects are still unknown. Dr. Mehmet Oz notes on his site: “Eating organic protects you from potentially harmful chemicals such as pesticides.”
Joanna Runciman, who runs ActualOrganics.com, offers five easy ways to get started down the organics path:
1. EAT BROCCOLI OR KALE: “Try it, even if you haven’t in the past. Don’t assume you won’t like these foods. Give them a go and see! Broccoli and kale are rich in the vital nutrients our bodies use to maintain health.”
— Tip: Try roasting them with a little sea salt and olive oil.
2. SKIP SYNTHETIC HOUSEHOLD CLEANERS: You live in your house and breathe the air all day and touch everything. Wouldn’t it be better if all that was cleaned naturally? Runciman adds: “Remember that what we use in our home gets washed down the drain and ends up in our water supply. We need pure water, so please don’t pollute it!”
— Tip: Make your own all-purpose cleaner using white vinegar to clean while you simmer a pot of water and cinnamon sticks for homemade air refreshers.
3. EAT FRESH: Pass by the brightly colored boxes and boxed meals that have a dozen or more ingredients and focus on whole foods that are made with one or two real ingredients, like fruits, vegetables, organic meats and beans. “Nature doesn’t make labels; stick to freshly grown foods,” Runciman says.
— Tip: Try eating only fresh foods for one week and see if you feel any differently. You will.
4. TRY ONE NEW THING A WEEK: Head to the closest farmers market and explore something new. Did you know that if you halve a spaghetti squash and bake it for an hour, fluff the squash using a fork and — viola! — you’ve got healthy spaghetti. Top it with organic tomatoes, stewed with olive oil, and enjoy.
— Tip: For dessert, cut a whole watermelon in two, stick in two spoons and savor the natural sweetness.
5. BE PREPARED: Take healthy options with you wherever you go: to work, driving the kids around, running errands, etc. “Carrots, peeled and chopped,” Runciman suggests, “or some sunflower seeds, dates, an organic apple for example. That way when you feel hungry in the day you won’t be tempted to eat processed foods from the vending machine!”
— Tip: Pour yogurt into an ice cube tray. Add Popsicle sticks and in a few hours your kids will be cheering.
Going organic isn’t difficult, and it doesn’t always have to expensive. You can start slowly and simply finish what you have in the house while replacing with healthier, safer versions over time.