* Good Food Basics *
I think we all hope that our food comes from clean, natural sources, like the idyllic, traditional farm scenes we see on so many food labels .... picturesque family farms with a sensible mix of fields and pastureland, livestock and crops.
Much of our grains, fruits and vegetables come from industrial-size farms which rely heavily on chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Many staples, such as corn, sugar and soybeans are genetically modified.
Short of knowing the farmers who grow your food, buying and preparing certified organic foods is really the only way to ensure that what you're eating is safe and healthy. Unfortunately not all of us can afford the typically higher price tag on organics.
Going Organic Without Going Broke
* Join a community-supported agriculture (CSA) program. These are farms that sell shares of their harvest to near-by residents, typically for around $300 to $600 per year. In return, members get a weekly assortment of the farm's produce. Find your closet CSA at localharvest.org
* Shop at farmers markets. Here you can meet the farmers and ask them about pesticide use and other practices. Some farmers don't use pesticides but haven't gone to the expense of obtaining official organic certification. Find a nearby farmers market at localharvest.org
* Visit pick-your-own organic farms during the growing season and freeze or otherwise store foods for use later in the year.
* Grow your own. A garden is a great way to get in touch with the origins of our food and instill a sense of thankfulness for all the bounty the earth provides.
* Buy frozen organic fruits and vegetables - but check the country of origin. A lot of frozen produce, organic or otherwise, is grown in Mexico, Ecuador, China, and elsewhere. Not only is it difficult to verify organic standards overseas, shipping consumes fossil fuels and generates green house gases.
* Buy organic versions of the fruits and vegetables most likely to be contaminated with pesticides. As a general rule, these include soft-sided fruits and leafy greens.
- from the National Geographic book "Green Guide Families"
* Buy in bulk - it's cheaper, conserves resources, and cuts down on mountains of packaging waste.
* Buy whole, unprocessed foods that are low on the food chain. It takes way more energy to raise cattle and pigs, than grain, beans and produce. "Producing a pound of beef requires 30 times more water than producing a pound of wheat, and 200 times more than a pound of potatoes. Producing one calorie of animal protein uses 10 times as much fossil fuel as producing a calorie of vegetable protein. And the EPA reports that animal waste from U.S. factory farms pollutes American waterways more than all other industrial sources combined." ("The Case Against Meat" emagazine.com )