7 Ways for Seniors to Be Organic

Eat clean. We hear this all the time. We all know we should eat right, and today, that often means choosing organic foods instead of commercially grown, pesticide-laden options.

Seniors Going Organic
Garden in the MET Cloister

However, for those living on a fixed income, the high costs of organic foods can become an obstacle. Only though if you let high cost stop you. There are other ways you can enjoy organic food without making a dent in your budget. Try these:

1. Seasonal Shopping
2. The “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean 15” 
3. Frozen Options 
4. Understanding Eggs 
5. Wild-Caught and Grass-Fed
6. Understanding GMOs
7. Organic Vegetable Garden

The best way, of course, is to plant your own vegetables. Even urban dwellers are now trying their best to do this. 

There are balconies and rooftops for those who have no outside plots. Start small and build it. Window sills will do. When we stayed in serviced apartments working in Asia, I often filled our sills with pots laden with herbs which I can easily snip and add to smoothies and dishes. 

Now, in our condo here in downtown Toronto, I still plant herbs and greens I can snip to add to smoothies or salads. If it is important, we do find ways of making it happen. 

1. Seasonal Shopping

Shopping according to the seasons is a great way to not only obtain organically grown produce at lower prices but to add a greater variety of produce to your diet. 

Certain produce is locally available only at specific times during the year. However, thanks to commercial farming and preservation methods like canning and freezing, we have access to virtually any vegetable or fruit throughout the year. This is great for convenience, and there’s nothing wrong with quality canned or frozen produce. 

Shopping according to the seasons, however, allows you to obtain the highest nutrient value for the least amount of money. 

Often, this has to do with how far they are transported and how thin their skins are. Clean 15, on the other hand, is a list of foods which, although organic is always best, can usually be regarded as ‘safe’ in terms of pesticide levels.

The MET Cloister Garden
TheNew York MET Cloister Garden

Fresh produce is nearly always higher in vitamins, minerals and bio-nutrients than canned or frozen varieties. By purchasing these items – either from a farmers’ market or the organic section of your supermarket – you’ll be getting more nutritional bang for your buck. 

2. The “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean 15” 

These easy-to-remember guidelines refer to specific foods. The Dirty Dozen consists of foods which, for a variety of reasons, are usually loaded with pesticides. 

Dirty Dozen – Apples, Celery, Cherry Tomatoes, Cucumbers, Grapes, Hot Peppers, Nectarines (imported), Peaches, Potatoes, Spinach, Strawberries, Sweet Peppers, Greens and Summer Squash. 

Clean 15 – Asparagus, Avocados, Cabbage, Cantaloupe, Sweet Corn, Eggplant, Grapefruit, Kiwi, Mangoes, Mushrooms, Onions, Papayas, Pineapples, Sweet Peas (frozen) and Sweet Potatoes. 

With a list in hand, you can make more informed decisions at the supermarket. Spend a bit more on the Dirty Dozen by purchasing organically while choosing traditional Clean 15 options.

3. Frozen Options 
As freezing methods improve, more produce options are available in the freezer case. 

These options are superior to canned produce in terms of nutrient density, and many organic varieties are available. 

Look for flash-frozen whenever possible; this method preserves the highest levels of nutrients. 

4. Understanding Eggs 

Eggs are an excellent source of protein, but the type of eggs you buy is important. 

Commercially raised eggs are typically loaded with antibiotics, due to the filthy, cramped living conditions of chickens. As a result, these eggs may contain things you don’t’ want in your own body. 

The term ‘free-range’ is a step up, but, thanks to loopholes in the guidelines which regulate farming, these chickens are also living in dirty, cramped areas – the only difference is they have a small outdoor pen. 

To obtain the most responsible, healthiest eggs, choose ‘pastured.’ This term indicates that the chickens which produced the eggs are allowed to roam freely and feed on a wide – and natural – variety of insects and grains. As a result, they require fewer (or no) antibiotics, and their eggs are believed to be higher in nutrients. 

5. Wild-Caught and Grass-Fed
You may have seen these labels on fish and meat selections. Although labelling regulations aren’t as strict as they might be, these are generally good indications that the product was caught or raised responsibly. 

In general, wild-caught and grass-fed options are considered to be safer, due to their lower (or nonexistent) antibiotic levels. They are also typically higher in nutrients. 

Remember to always look for labels which specifically state “USDA Organic,” “Antibiotic Free” and “Pesticide Free.” You may see all three on the same product, although “USDA Organic” indicates that no antibiotics or pesticides were used in production. This includes the grass and feed livestock are raised on, and even the soil in which that grass and feed were grown. 

While these options typically cost more, switching to a diet with more vegetables and less protein can help to offset the costs. 

6. Understanding GMOs
You may have seen GMO-Free on food labels recently – this is due to a consumer backlash regarding the use of GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms). These hybrid plants are believed by many to present risks to humans, simply because they are not natural and may encourage a host of unhealthy side effects such as tumour growth and excess estrogen production. 

Purchasing GMO-Free options, whenever possible, is a great way to safeguard against the largely unknown potential effects of consuming GMOs.

Vegetable Garden in Monticello
Vegetable Garden in Monticello

7. An Organic Vegetable Garden
Nothing can beat your own organic vegetable garden. This will supply you the best produce to eat. The produce will also be very fresh so not only will they be delicious but also much more healthy. 

Gardening will also make you more active contributing to your overall health. The joy you derive from watching your plants grow and giving you fruits make it all worthwhile. Start now.