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When to Eat Organic

How to Shop Smart and Buy Healthy

Now that organic produce and healthier food options are more readily available than ever before, it has made grocery shopping that much more confusing in the process. With the availability to buy everything from out of season fruit to fair trade chocolate to T-shirts made with organic cotton, more expensive options can make shopping complicated, even if the effects are overall better for our health and the environment.

Not only could an all-organic diet be rough on your budget (be prepared for grocery bills to double), but there are often other factors at stake. While organic farming is better for the environment, is it better for the earth if you buy an organic apple with a big carbon footprint or an apple from the farm down the street that was grown using chemical pesticides? Is it worth paying twice as much for an organic vegetable when you don't even know if the pesticides used on the cheaper variety are dangerous? Then there's the recently hyped danger of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) which aren't going to be labelled in the U.S. anytime soon.

Basically, it comes down to the question: do you have the time to research every item you place in your grocery cart? The answer is probably no. Luckily, you can form a smart, educated shopping plan without becoming a biochemical engineer.

Becky Ofrane, who is a biochemical engineer and a risk assessor with the Environmental Protection Agency, says you have to choose what's important to you. "For me, I don’t want to ingest extra hormones [like artificially grown hormones found in industrial dairy farming] as a young woman of child bearing age with a child. Other people might care more about protecting the environment, in which case you would probably choose not to eat meat because of livestock methane emissions. Someone else might say it’s important to me that the animals are treated well," Ofrane said. "So it’s not necessarily worthwhile splurging on the most expensive eggs just because they have all those labels on them if all those things aren’t important to you."

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