If you’re convinced of the benefits of eating organic, you might be wondering how to go about getting started with eating an organic diet. We’ve been there too, and we understand how overwhelming it can be to make the transition from eating a non-organic diet to an organic one. There are many possible approaches.
In our experience, people often find that they are most comfortable making the transition in baby steps. This makes it possible to map out an easily doable strategy for success. However, baby steps might not be the right choice for you if you have discovered that you have cancer or another terminal illness. In that case, you’ll want to consider making the fastest possible transition you’re capable of making.
How to Start Eating Organic in Baby Steps
Here are some baby steps you can take towards the final goal of transitioning to an entirely organic diet:
- Change your shopping habits. Practical suggestions for this are included later in this article.
- Prioritize what to focus on first. Suggestions follow below.
- Clean out your pantry. Consider donating or tossing the worst offenders you find. For example, if you have non organic potato chips in your pantry, they’re a good candidate for donation or the garbage can. Conventionally grown potatoes are treated with shocking numbers of devastatingly harmful chemical inputs. On top of that, potato chips are typically made using a vast array of unhealthy chemical additives.
- As you use up the non-organic foods you still have in your pantry, replace them with organic foods.
- Recognize that there are organic alternatives for most non organic foods. For example, if you want to indulge in potato chips, simply buy organic chips. Alternatively, you could make your own organic potato chips by slicing organic potatoes thin and frying them in oil. You can buy or make organic pizza, organic ice cream, organic chocolate candies and many other types of snack foods.
- Make time in your schedule for cooking from scratch.
- Collect real food recipes that will help you on your journey to eating organic. We make many free real food recipes available on our website, and we also offer a super affordable Kindle e-book of easy baked potato recipes that are suitable for chefs who are just beginning their journey into eating organic and cooking with raw ingredients.
- Create a strategy for how you want to deal with the times when you’re not eating at home.
- Recognize that you may have to deal with some awkwardness or even turmoil in your social life as you make this transition.
- Make new friends who are committed to eating organic.
Change Your Shopping Habits for the Easiest Transition to Eating Organic
Regardless of whether you make a quick cold-turkey transition or you make a slower transition in baby steps, the easiest approach is to simply change your shopping habits. Once you establish the habit of shopping in new places, it becomes natural for healthier buying habits to fall into place.
If you’re an urbanite or suburbanite who lives close to a variety of different places to shop, you’re in luck. This will probably be a relatively easy transition for you. Simply stop shopping at the grocery store, and instead go to the nearest farmer’s market and / or health food store to do your shopping. If you live close to a Trader Joes, they’re a good source of affordable and delicious organic foods. You can also fill in with online bulk purchases of organic food from Amazon.com or other sources.
Don’t despair if you live far away from a health food store or Trader Joes. You’ll probably find that you have some other options available if you look around.
No matter where you live, you might wish to research your options for community supported agriculture, also known as CSA. In a CSA arrangement, you would typically pay upfront for a mutually agreed upon share in the farm’s food production for a season, or perhaps for an entire year, depending on how that farm’s CSA is structured.
Different farms grow different types of products. Some CSA farmers are growing only vegetables. Others offer fruits, vegetables, herbs, meats, eggs and / or dairy products. Some even grow fresh flowers and might bring you a fresh bouquet every week along with your veggies. There are also fiber CSAs offering yarns or fibers for crafting with. It’s important for you to get a clear understanding of what to expect in your CSA box, and for you to be informed about the frequency of deliveries. However, it’s also important for you to be flexible in your expectations, because it’s not uncommon for harvest of various crops to be delayed. There are also times when various crops fail completely.
CSA can be both rewarding and risky, so it will require careful research on your part. You’ll probably want to visit the farm you are thinking of supporting to meet the farmers and see what their growing practices are like. Be aware that not all farms are growing organically. Some may be making the transition to growing organically. Others may be growing using organic practices, but they aren’t certified organic due to the expense. Regardless, a certain amount of trust is necessary on your part when you agree to a CSA arrangement.
If you decide to subscribe to a CSA, you’ll typically receive a box of produce every week or every other week. Some farms will deliver your CSA box right to your door, which makes it really easy to establish your new habit of eating organic. Others will require you to go pick up your box at an established meeting place.
Why You Should Avoid the Grocery Store When You Start Eating Organic
In the past, you probably shopped at a grocery store. In the future, you’ll most likely want to avoid the grocery store as much as possible. Of course, there are exceptions. Some grocery stores stock a good selection of organic foods, in which case you could consider continuing to shop at the grocery store if you’re able to be disciplined about avoiding all the enticing junk foods the store also makes available for sale.
If you’re serious about eating organic, we discourage you from grocery store shopping unless it’s your only viable option. There are many reasons for this, and some of them are complex and overwhelming. The simplest way to approach it is just to say that not all organics are equal.
In many cases, companies that produce organic food are owned by “traitor brands” / “big food”, in other words, the same mega corporations that produce junk food. Whenever possible, it’s preferable to buy your food from privately held companies or individuals whose first loyalty is to you, the customer. It’s preferable to avoid buying from corporations whose first loyalty is to their shareholders, and their primary goal is to grow corporate profits — because the healthiest options for you are rarely compatible with the highest profits for the corporation’s shareholders.
In cases where organic foods are available at the grocery store, you’ll often find that the grocery store’s selection is comprised totally or mostly of these “corporate organics”. They’re a better choice than non organics, and if they’re your most convenient option then so be it. If you’re positioned with choices for where to shop, it’s preferable to avoid the grocery store all together and choose to shop in farmers’ markets and privately owned shops like Trader Joes or your local mom and pop health food store.
What to Prioritize When You Transition to Eating Organic
You may already have your own ideas about what you want to prioritize when you transition from a non organic diet to an organic diet. If you do, please disregard our priority list and follow your own.
1. Immediately switch out your non-organic oils and replace them with organic oils. This is one of the most crucial changes you can make in your diet; even if you don’t do anything else, this is an important action to take. You’ll definitely want to get rid of any margarine, hydrogenated oil or partially hydrogenated oil that’s hanging out in your fridge or pantry. You’ll also want to get rid of any non organic soy oil, vegetable oil (which is usually mostly soy oil), corn oil or canola oil. Replace margarine with either real organic butter or organic coconut oil (you can add a little bit of salt to the coconut oil to make it more flavorful and “buttery”); replace soy or vegetable oils with organic olive oil or organic coconut oil. Organic sesame oil is another delicious possibility for vegetable oil substitution.
2. If you consume dairy products, a great next step would be switching out your conventionally produced milk, cheese, yogurt, ice cream and other dairy products.
There are several possibilities for suitable replacements for your dairy products. The simplest substitution would be to just replace your milk, cheese, sour cream, yogurt and ice cream with their organic counterparts. While this is the simplest solution, it may not be the best solution for you. We suggest that you research the conflicting dietary recommendations made by both Dr. Richard Schulze and Dr. Johanna Budwig before you make your final decision about what your replacements should be. This is particularly important if a terminal illness is your motivation for changing your diet.
If you live in a location where raw organic dairy products are legal, you may wish to research their pros and cons and consider whether they would be worthwhile substitutes for you.
You might also wish to consider using vegan versions of dairy products instead of actual dairy products. For example, if you enjoy having cereal with milk, you could substitute organic almond milk instead. Be sure to check out our free recipes for almond milk and vegan chocolate milk. Our easy baked potato cook book includes a recipe for a vegan version of sour cream that’s delicious on baked potatoes, fries and potato pancakes.
Note that we do not recommend consuming soy milk, even organic soy milk, because we believe soy is a problematic food unless it is fermented.
3. For your next step, if you eat meat, make it a priority to transition to organic meats as quickly as possible. We don’t recommend using soy products as meat substitutes, even organic ones. Again, this is because we do not recommend consuming non fermented soy.
4. Next, familiarize yourself with the current “dirty dozen” list and prioritize getting rid of any of the offending items if you happen to have them on hand. Replace them with their organic counterparts.
We offer the above priority list in hopes it will be helpful to anyone who is making the transition from eating processed and conventionally produced foods to eating organic. Please know that our intention is to be helpful; we offer these suggestions as a starting point based on our own experiences of what is likeliest to give you the fastest and best results. However, we don’t know you and we aren’t familiar with your unique situation or health concerns. It isn’t our intention to micro-manage your diet or dictate what’s best for you. We encourage you to do your own research to determine what’s best for you to prioritize based on your own unique situation.
You may find it helpful to ask your doctor’s advice, particularly if you are making this transition because of a terminal illness. However, we encourage you to take responsibility for your own health; you need to be in the driver’s seat when it comes to making any and all decisions that affect your health. Your doctor may well be your best ally on your journey, but then again you also unfortunately have to view your doctor’s recommendations with the same skepticism that you’d use for evaluating any recommendations made by any salesman you’re considering making an important purchase from. We mention this because some doctors are little more than well-paid sales representatives for pharmaceutical companies.
So there you have it: our overview of how to start eating organic. We hope this information is helpful to you, and we wish you all the best with your new organic food program.