By: Violet Batcha (Only Organic)
The holiday season is upon us, and if you’re anything like me you’ve already started planning your menus for the feasts you’ll be preparing and making a game plan for the grocery store.
Seasonal specials and jam-packed stores can make shopping overwhelming. I often find myself grabbing whatever is most convenient instead of thinking like the savvy, health conscious shopper I am the rest of the year. I pick a few key items that I know I want to buy organic and take the extra time to track them. That down helps me stay focused while feeling good that I’m bringing home the cleanest options of some key holiday staples.
So, what items are most important to buy organic?
Meat and dairy
Many holiday meals feature a star meat dish like turkey, roast beef or a glazed ham, along with starters such as a cheese plate.
Not only are organic meat and dairy products relatively easy to find, they offer a range of benefits for consumers and farm animals. There are strict welfare standards for organic livestock to ensure that they live happy, healthy lives. Animals must have room to roam, access to the outdoors, shade, clean bedding and drinking water and must eat only organic feed. In addition to these stringent animal welfare standards, organic farmers are prohibited from giving their animals growth hormones. Well animals can’t be dosed with antibiotics to promote growth. An organic farmer can give a sick animal antibiotics, but that animal’s neat cannot be sold as organic.
Antibiotic use became prevalent in animal production in the 1950s when the first scientific studies came out showing that feeding cows and chickens antibiotics led to accelerated growth. While this seemed like a miracle cure for farmers who were struggling to keep up with growing food demands, it has led to disastrous public health consequences. The overuse of antibiotics in livestock production is believed to have contributed to the development of antibiotic-resistant human pathogens.
At about the same time farmers started using antibiotics for livestock production they started giving dairy cows growth hormones to accelerate growth rates and milk production. These hormones help boost milk output in the short term but can cause many health problems for the cow, including reduced fertility, lameness and clinical mastitis, a bacterial infection of the udder. Mastitis is very painful for the animal and is treated with antibiotics, which may contribute to the development of antibiotic-resistant bacterial.
When you are picking out your Thanksgiving turkey and other meat and dairy products this year, going organic will guarantee that you’re not buying products with antibiotics or growth hormones.
Dirty Dozen Fruits and Vegetables
You many not want to buy organic versions of all the fruits and veggies on your shopping list. The Environmental Working Group’s Shoppers Guide to Pesticides in Produce makes it easy to decide which items are most important to buy organic. Every year, EWG analyzes government data on pesticide residues on produce and makes a list of the Dirty Dozen Fruits and Vegetables with the most residues. EWG encourages consumers who are worried about pesticides to buy these products organic.
This year’s Dirty Dozen includes, apples, strawberries, grapes, celery, peaches, spinach, sweet bell peppers, imported nectarines, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, imported snap peas, and potatoes. If you’re concerned about pesticide residue, make sure the apple pie you’re baking and potatoes you’re mashing are organic.
Now that you know which ingredients are worth a little extra effort to buy organic, get some inspiration for fun, healthy recipes to try this holiday season on our organic recipe page.