You might wonder about the various labels on your preferred grocery store foods. Many now have organic alternatives, but they often cost more than traditional groceries. This could be a deal-breaker for some people due to increasing food prices. Before increasing your budget, check out what those organic labels mean and if they’re worth the extra cost. You may be able to afford more than you think.
What Does Organic Mean?
Food producers can’t slap an organic label on their products just because it’s trendy. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has a few rules regarding what organic means:
- Producers must follow federal regulations regarding soil quality, pest and weed control, additive use and livestock practices.
- Farm soil must be free of prohibited substances for at least three years before planting.
- Produce must grow without using most synthetic treatments, such as pesticides and fertilizers.
- Livestock must live in an environment emulating their natural habitats, consume completely organic feed, and never receive injections like growth hormones or antibiotics.
- Multi-ingredient foods cannot contain artificial colors, flavors or preservatives.
Food producers that commit to organic produce or livestock farming undergo continual inspections so the USDA is confident they follow all regulations.
The company may need to utilize additional resources as well. Organic pest control and fertilizer options may be more costly. They could also pay higher prices for feeding livestock and maintaining their environment.
All these things contribute to the extra cost of organic food. In 2021, the average consumer paid $70 for organic groceries compared to $50 for foods without these labels. The increase can raise your total grocery bill by a significant amount. Even with the extra cost, you could enjoy benefits that align with your overall health goals.
Benefits of Eating Organic Food
These are a few reasons why people buy organic food. Ask your doctor if changing your diet could help you reach your health goals more efficiently. Adjusting a few of your standard purchases might be in your best interest if you want to experience these benefits.
1. You’ll Improve Your Health
Recent research shows 48% of Americans buy organic food because they believe it’s healthier. Correlating studies examining the health effects of nonorganic and all-natural foods support this belief due to improved participant health results after consuming ingredients carrying less pesticide residue.
You’ll likely purchase fresher groceries if you’re putting your health first when making dietary purchases. Fresh, organic foods don’t require the same amount of preservatives, which are standard ingredients in nonorganic food.
Timely purchases like seafood fresh from the ocean will support your health by boosting your immune system and providing essential nutrients your body needs to thrive. If you weren’t trying to eat an organic diet, you might opt for frozen seafood or other ingredients prepared months before and stored with preservatives.
2. You’ll Consume Fewer Chemicals and More Nutrients
Organic produce doesn’t grow with the assistance of synthetic pesticides or fertilizers. You won’t need to worry about any residue lingering on your food when it’s time to eat. The chemicals also won’t get in the produce through roots absorbing them from the soil.
There are other ways to get more nutrients in your food while decreasing chemicals in your diet. You could buy organic produce from local farms so there’s less time between harvesting and purchasing. Food begins to rot shortly after reaching the grocery store, even if it’s organic.
You can also buy organic food in your grocery store’s frozen section. Frozen foods retain their nutritional value because the freezing process prevents them from going rancid. You can make your favorite recipes without worrying about how long ago you bought things.
3. You’ll Avoid Synthetic Growth Hormones
Conventional livestock receive hormones to boost their meat or milk production. Although they have FDA approval, some people may opt for organic meats to avoid them.
There’s a widespread belief that livestock growth hormones can cause cancer in humans who consume them, but no correlating evidence supports this theory. Some also believe the hormones remain in cow’s milk and trigger early puberty. However, no science-based studies prove that claim.
Still, you might prefer only to consume hormone-free livestock products because it means the animals aren’t receiving growth injections. Organic food might be worth the extra cost if that gives you more peace of mind.
4. You’ll Support the Environment
Organic farms don’t use chemical-based pesticides or fertilizers that could seep into your food or harm the environment. Traditional farms spray these treatments regularly, saturating the soil with harmful chemicals that aren’t good for the planet.
Rainwater eventually washes the chemicals away from farms. They ride the runoff into nearby biomes, polluting the soil and invading waterways. Animals and plants consume the chemicals while the excess toxins float down streams into the ocean.
Organic foods will make your diet more eco-friendly if you live a sustainable lifestyle. Look for organic farms near your hometown to minimize your diet’s carbon footprint by buying locally. Your purchases won’t depend on burning fossil fuels to reach your home, leading to a greener diet that supports your values.
5. You’ll Have Healthier Pregnancies
Farms use pesticides to keep insects away from crops. It prevents loss and is a standard, food-safe way to grow produce, but the residue can remain when those items reach your grocery store.
Pesticide residue can cause congenital disabilities like holoprosencephaly in developing fetuses. If you’re pregnant or planning to become pregnant, eating organic food may be worth the extra cost because you’ll limit the chemicals affecting you and your baby.
6. You’ll Avoid Genetically Modified Foods
People may feel cautious about eating genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Those include produce and nonorganic food products.
GMOs alter the genetic makeup of the product to make it more profitable, like raising larger cattle or growing crops that naturally repel insects due to their composition. The changes can also result in health benefits, like reducing pesticide-related cancer rates and increasing nutritional profiles with hardier crops.
Some consumers prefer organic food to avoid GMOs because they believe they harm their health. Researchers haven’t found evidence to support myths like GMOs increasing allergen sensitivities or transferring genetic material to humans. Still, if avoiding GMOs makes you more comfortable, buying organic groceries will align with your preferences because they don’t involve modifications.
Ways to Eat Healthy on a Budget
Even with the numerous benefits of eating organic food, the cost increase could be your most important purchasing factor. Use these ideas to eat healthy on a budget while consuming the most chemical-free foods possible.
1. Shop the Frozen Section
You don’t need to buy food with organic labels to improve your health. Consider getting most of your veggies from the frozen aisle instead. They’ll contain all the nutrients they had at the time of harvesting, so you’ll get the most bang for your buck.
Frozen foods are also more budget-friendly than fresh produce. Freshly harvested veggies and fruits have a high turnover rate at room temperature. They decompose due to warm air, bacteria and improper handling.
A bag of frozen strawberries doesn’t deal with those influencing factors. The airtight bag keeps them fresh long-term. Grocery stores and food producers mark them at a lesser price because they’re easier to ship, store and sell.
2. Attend Farmers Markets
You can check out farmers markets for better prices if you live in an area with local farms. The organic produce grown down the street won’t have a high price tag because the farmer didn’t have to pay for long-distance shipping.
You’ll also get to know who’s growing your food. The more profound sense of community and affordable prices could make your new organic lifestyle much more fulfilling.
3. Eat Less Meat
Swapping protein sources is another way to eat an organic diet without sacrificing your budget. Check your grocery store shelves for organic cans or bags of beans. They’re just a few dollars compared to buying pounds of all-natural meat. Swapping your meatballs and chicken legs for bean-based meals ensures you get the protein you need.
4. Buy Canned Veggies
Canned produce is another option for eating healthier foods. It’s more affordable due to its long-term storage. Stock up when your grocery store has a big sale. The cans will keep well in your pantry while you buy weekly organic groceries with a shorter shelf life.
5. Watch for Sales
You can always time your grocery trips to align with your store’s recurring sales. The management team will mark down prices when organic foods are closer to their expiration dates. If you can use them quickly, you’ll get your all-natural groceries at a generous discount so your diet aligns with your financial goals.
Is Organic Food Worth the Cost?
Organic food could be worth the extra cost if it supports your values and preferences. Consider how you feel about growth hormones and synthetic treatments. You should also factor in your financial abilities before switching to an organic diet. All-natural groceries can be a helpful option regardless of how you want to support your health and well-being.