1.3 percent! That means that 98.7 of imported produce comes into our country without even a glance. I can’t believe it.
Non-US farmers can (and do!) use pesticides, chemical fertilizers, and hormones that are banned in the United States. About one-quarter of our fruit, both fresh and frozen, is imported. For tree nuts, it’s about half. And for fish and shellfish, more than two-thirds come from overseas.
After attending an interesting discussion with Robyn O’Brien, author of the new book The Unhealthy Truth, I’m pretty certain that most of our conventional produce in this country may not be safe for our bodies either.
But if you can’t afford to shop at Whole Foods (and honestly, that isn’t my go-to grocery store), here are four simple changes that you can adopt.
1. Buy Local
Even if you can’t afford organic, buy local. Go to your weekly Farmer’s Market (there are over 70 each week in the Bay Area). Buying organic at the Farmer’s Market can be significantly cheaper than buying it at the grocery store.
2. Change Your Milk
Check to make sure that your milk is hormone free. Believe me, the dairies are making it easy to find out. There should be a RBST-free or RBGH-free sticker on there. I don’t buy organic milk (sorry, $6 a gallon is highway robbery), but I make sure that the milk I do buy is hormone-free.
3. Eat Less Meat
If you eat less meat, then you can afford to buy better quality meats (organic, local) when you are eating meat. Our Costco carries organic chicken breasts and thighs that are roughly the same price as conventional chicken at the conventional grocery store. We’ve also purchased “shares” of local, grass-fed beef in the past. You just need to make sure that you have the freezer space to handle a share.
4. Let loose 20% of the time
Stick to healthy eating 80% of the time, and then let loose 20% of the time. No one wants you to become that mother who doesn’t let her kid eat birthday cake at a birthday party. We still go out to Chili’s with friends on a Friday night. It’s not about creating a strict diet. It’s about making informed decisions about what is going into our shopping carts and, ultimately, our bellies.