Eating healthy doesn’t have to be difficult, that’s why we put together this list of healthy organic meal ideas to help you make smarter, healthier food choices.
Want to make healthier choices at the grocery store? Try organic: it may be a good investment in your health.
Consider the nutrition factor: compared to conventionally grown food, organic produce and animal products tend to be richer in antioxidants and other nutrients like flavonoids and omega-3 fatty acids. Organic foods also tend to be lower in things like pesticide residue, bacteria, and heavy metal toxins like cadmium.
To be fair, the evidence isn’t totally clear on whether organic foods actually prevent health problems any better than their conventional counterparts. But it’s worth noting that people who consume organic foods tend to have healthier lifestyles overall, possibly because they’re inclined to practice other healthy choices like cooking at home more often and avoiding heavily processed foods. Plus, going organic can help support smaller local farmers, many of whom utilize farming practices like crop rotation and mixed planting which promote better soil integrity.
In case you’re wondering, organic foods must be raised without many of the mainstays of conventional agriculture and factory farming. This includes:
- No synthetic fertilizers nor fertilizers derived from sewage sludge, the leftover material once human sewage has been processed (yes, that’s a thing)
- Minimal to no use of synthetic pesticides
- No use of growth hormones or antibiotics in livestock
- At least some outdoor access for livestock
- No use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs)
- No use of irradiation as a way to kill diseases or extend a product’s shelf life
These days, you can get organic foods of all types in most major grocery stores. So, if you’re interested in adding more organic into your family’s diet, keep the following tips in mind on your next shopping trip.
5 Tips for Making Healthy Organic Meals at Home
1. Make a Few "Staple" Organic Meals
Does your family have a favorite meal? Try replacing even just a few of the ingredients with organic varieties like organic eggs, herbs, or veggies. Here are a few top recipes to try from Organics.org:
- Asparagus and Garlic Butter Chicken
- Crockpot Ground Beef Stew
- Roasted Salmon and Zucchini Noodles
2. When Possible, Buy In-Season
According to ConsumerReports.org, organic foods aren’t always more expensive than conventionally grown foods, but they certainly can be—as much as 50% more in some cases.
To cut down on costs, buy in-season produce whenever possible (you can find out what’s in season near you by checking out seasonalfoodguide.org). In-season produce is usually less expensive and often tastes better, too.
3. Prioritize Your Produce List
If budget or availability are an issue, don’t worry: you don’t have to make your entire pantry and fridge full of organic items. You can at least choose organic varieties of the so-called “Dirty Dozen,” the 12 fruits and veggies most heavily contaminated with pesticides when grown conventionally.
The Dirty Dozen include strawberries, spinach, apples, pears, and tomatoes. For the full list, check out this resource from the Environmental Working Group.
4. Scan Those Nutrition Labels
5. Visit Your Local Farmer's Market
Research suggests farmer’s markets are good for farmers, consumers, and communities. They’re a great place to get organic produce and animal products, including some items you may not find in stores. Many people also feel that if they’re going to spend more money on organic items, that money may as well go toward their local economy.
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