It's one thing to eat badly when its just you but as soon as you are charged with feeding a little, one the stakes are risen. However, buying all organic food isn't always possible or even the best choice, and in this day and age where we sometimes have too many choices the whole thing can feel really overwhelming.
The book that broke it all down for me is Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals, it??™s a fascinating read and has made an indelible impact on how our family shops and eats every day. But, since we know that reading books is not always possible, we have put together this little cheat sheet for you.
* Eat Locally
It??™s definitely the trendy thing these days and for good reason, the best thing you can do for the environment is to eat food that was grown close by, thus reducing the amount of energy it takes to get to you and supporting local farmers. Plus, when you eat local you are guaranteed to eat fresh and seasonal food. One option is to join your neighborhood Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) group - check the Just Foods website for a full listing of CSA's in your area . You can also find a wealth of information on their website on how to start and manage your own CSA.
I joined my local CSA in Jackson Heights last year and it has been great, we pay in advance and each week pick up an overflowing box of just picked fruits and veggies at a local church. Often there are things in our box that we would never buy (or even have never tried) which turns into a great opportunity to branch out with your cooking. And it also forces you to cook more which can be a big money saver if you tend to be the ordering-in types.
But, if you aren't ready to make the CSA leap for fear of too many veggies, summer travel plans or cause you got shut out (some hoods can be really difficult to break into), don't fret, there are always local farmers markets which allow you to eat delicious local food, often at a cheaper price than your supermarket. You can also order from Fresh Direct's local market where you can find produce, dairy, fish and meat, though don??™t expect discount prices.
* Buy organic as much as possible but choose your battles
Organic produce is undoubtedly better for the environment (though if it comes from the other side of the world it may not be), and better for your family but lets be honest, it??™s expensive and not always easy to find. Here is the list (in order) of which produce you should try to buy organic - the list was compiled after testing for pesticide residue in samples of conventional produce.
8. Imported Grapes
11. Bell Peppers
12. Red Raspberries
Here is the list of produce that it is OK to buy non-organic - as you can see, a lot of these have thick skins that you peel away.
12. Sweet Peas
If you aren??™t into hunting around for your organic produce, you can use Urban Organics, the service that delivers a box of fresh organic veggies to your door each week for the entire year, and don??™t worry you can choose certain things to permanently cancel from your order for the finicky eaters in your home.
And when you are buying conventional produce, there are things you can do to get rid of some of the pesticide residue. The Today Show put together a nice site with cleaning, cooking and preparing instructions to help you in your battles to feed your family healthy food.
Now, we just need to figure out how to get our kids to actually eat the vegetables that we spend so much time thinking about??¦Check out our post on Five Food Hacks for Getting Your Kids to Eat Vegetables and Love it.