I love getting emails and messages from readers. But sometimes, those messages break my heart. Like when I hear from distraught moms who either don’t have access to organic fruits and vegetables or can’t afford them–and say they’re afraid to buy conventional.
Afraid to buy fruits and vegetables!
As a dietitian, I am thrilled that there seems to be an increased focus on eating more fresh foods and fewer hyper-processed ones. But perfect is the enemy of the good. And perfect has somehow become synonymous with buying all organic.
I buy some organic food. I buy plenty of conventional food too. I try to buy from small local farms when I can to help support their business, whether the produce is organic or not. I also tend to buy organic meat and poultry as much as possible. I may buy organic apples one week, conventional the next, depending on prices and what varieties I’m craving. Maybe my choices seem to contradict each other. Maybe they don’t meet the criteria of perfect. But they are choices that work for our family, that align with our budget, and most importantly, these choices allow us to have a variety of fresh food in our home.
I haven’t always felt this confident. I used to agonize a lot more about my purchases–and spend more money than we could afford on groceries. But I made peace with my choices. I hope you can too! Because eating lots of fresh food is good for health–but fear of food is not.
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And fear of food may be causing some people not to eat enough fruits and vegetables. In a recent study, when researchers mentioned the “Dirty Dozen” list to shoppers, those shoppers said they were less likely to buy any fresh produce. According to a Washington Post story reporting on the research:
Even the Environmental Working Group doesn’t recommend avoiding the items on its own Dirty Dozen list. Their website says “the health benefits of a diet rich in fruits and vegetables outweigh the risks of pesticide exposure. Eating conventionally grown produce is far better than skipping fruits and vegetables.” That should be the key message that everyone hears in 2017.
The bottom line: Buy fruits and vegetables, organic or conventional or some of both. All kinds. Serve them often. Make them part of meals and snacks every day. Serve them on a Snack Platter. Whirl then into a green smoothie. A diet full of fruits and vegetables (organic or not) is PROVEN to be good for health, helping to lower blood pressure and the risk for heart disease and even some types of cancer.
But do what’s best for your family. Do not feel pressure to spend beyond your means. Do not feel guilted by a blog post, a photo on Instagram, or the person’s cart behind you at the check-out.
And certainly don’t avoid buying fruits and vegetables because they’re conventional. Because that’s just heartbreaking.