So I stumbled upon this TED talk last week, and thought it important. The statistics are ones I’ve heard repeatedly in the health and fitness industry over the last few years, but a lot of people don’t know them. And they don’t know how to research. Here’s what Robyn O’Brien said about her research journey, and why GMO foods are so much cheaper than organics.
At the end, she encourages her audience (and us) to use the talents we were given to create change in our lives, communities, cities, and even the world. I don’t know about you, but I sat there thinking and realizing what a daunting task this can be. But then I began thinking that any great change starts with small steps.
What do those steps look like for the average, everyday person who perhaps, like my family, has to stick to a budget?
- Read ingredients on the backs of packages for filler/artificial ingredients. Try to choose those processed foods you like that are clearly labeled as non-GMO and USDA-certified organic.
- Better yet, try cutting out as many processed foods from your diet as possible. Shop
bulk at places like Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s, and invest in a blender that can grind up dry goods like wheat berries, oats, nuts, and other whole foods. Become more self-sufficient. (Pinterest is amazing for having recipes to help with this.)
- Shop around the perimeter of a store rather than down the aisles. You pay a premium for packaging. Why not put that extra money toward foods that benefit the body?
- Don’t see what you want in your local grocery store? Put in requests. Keep requesting. Get your friends to buy in a similar way and place requests. Your money talks!
- Look for local farmer’s markets, even if they’re seasonal. Their prices are usually very good and their produce is excellent. Talk with the vendors about how they grow their produce and about their knowledge in the industry. The more you know, the better informed decisions you make.
- Don’t have a local farmer’s market within a reasonable distance (to you)? Plant a garden! Don’t have a whole lot of space? Look into square-foot gardening!
- Consider getting into canning and dehydrating foods, or ask your friends if they know someone who does these things. This way, you can have your yummy produce even in the winter!
- Become a vegetarian. Even just doing Vegetarian Mondays will make an impact on your budget, your health, and even the environment.
- Not ready to give up meat? Try buying grass-fed and ethically-raised meats, eggs, and dairy. Not seeing what you want in the store? Research farms that sell grass-fed produce. Don’t shy away from the prices of a quarter/half cow. Split the cost between nearby family/friends/neighbors. It’s a lot of meat, and lasts quite a while. Paying a little extra for meats, eggs, and dairy will benefit your waistline (and bottom line) in the long run. (Fun fact: Some people drive 2-3 hours to get their quarter cow!)
- Shop online for great deals. I find great deals on websites like Amazon for organic oils, cocoa, and coconut sugar that are also harvested in a sustainable fashion that also helps the local farmers.
- Don’t forget that these principles can extend to your health and beauty habits, and household goods too! Ever heard of reusable paper towels?
Remember, finally, that unless you’ve got a medical reason that requires immediate changes (under doctor supervision), the easiest way to go about changing up eating habits is to do it over time. Start slowly. Once you clear out one item or kind of item from your pantry/freezer/fridge, replace is with a healthier alternative. Learn how to make your favorite nut butters, jams, veggie chips, breads, etc. Do the majority of your food prep on the weekends when you have more time; consider making it a family event. Freeze meals that are ready to dump into a crock pot–another great kitchen investment!–so that you can just thaw, pour, start cooking, and go about your busy day.
In the end, healthy habits also comes down to lifestyle. A lot of people run very busy lives. Pick the things you can do. Consider making room in your schedule for the things you’d like to do. Leave the things you really don’t want to/can’t do alone. Maybe one day you’ll get around to them, or maybe not. But don’t beat yourself up for not getting into canning (or whatever) because you simply don’t have the time/energy to do it when your best friend and next door neighbor tells all her wonderful stories about how full her cellar shelves are getting. You’re doing what you can.