The biggest apprehension most of us have when making any kind of change in our lifestyle is how much it will cost us and how convenient the change will be. In my last story, I spoke about the advantages of going organic in food choices. But there is no point going whole hog in the supermarket on one trip with organic food products, and then reaching out for the phone to call up your local grocery store the next! I spoke to Mumbai-based nutritionist Sanjana Bhuwalka to clear some misconceptions and share tips to help make the change.
Most people seem to steer clear of organic products in India, believing it to be a fancy marketing gimmick that can justify higher costs. However, this is far from the truth. The only reason organic food is marginally more expensive in India at the moment is because of the low demand. Years of research has proven that cultivating organically is cheaper over a 5-year period because of lower input cost. It is the demand-supply ratio that is increasing the cost of organic foods. So, the more organic food you buy, the lower you are actually driving down the cost.
When it comes to switching over to organic food, it is not so much a matter of convenience as it is of prudence. The conventional, or inorganic, food that you have been consuming could actually be the cause of a whole host of health challenges. There have been studies that have conclusively proven the link between inorganic foods and childhood and adult health disorders. So is it convenient, well the honest answer is it might not be in the beginning, but is it an essential step that you must consider for your own health and that of your child? Absolutely!
Step-by-step guide to switching over
There's no point in encouraging you to make changes you won't be able to keep up with. Instead let's simplify the process of switching over so that you are not scratching your head with "project organic" while managing your day-to-day life.
- I recommend switching over to organic milk, as it is one of the most commonly consumed products in any household, and has the highest chances of adulteration.
- Next, make a list of your groceries and decide what is most important to you. Is it vegetables and fruits or dry groceries? If you are planning to switch your vegetables, then find an organic vendor close to your house, or at least a vendor who can home deliver. This way, you ensure it is a sustained chance, not a one-off thing.
- Next in line are your monthly dry groceries. Try and locate a store close to your place, again, which stocks organic products. Brands such as Fab India, Sattvic and Navdanya, supply everything from organic rice and wheat to even organic spices and seasoning. You can even try to locate online stores that house organic products.
- After taking care of this, switch your oil. Rice bran oil is the safest choice, but a good organic source is not available in India. You could use cold-pressed sunflower oil, safflower oil, extra virgin olive oil for dressings and cold use; and coconut oil and ghee for frying. All you need to do is ensure that the oil is always organic cold-pressed. The ghee should be from cows that are grass-fed from pesticide-free land.
- After this point, you can choose to go as organic as you want depending on what foods you have access to, what is easily placed into a system and how you utilise foods within your household.
Another aspect that I haven't managed to nail yet is going organic with not only what goes in my body but with what goes on it too. Chemical-laden soaps, creams and washes can be as harmful as the food cultivated with pesticides. While I'm keen to make the switch there too, I'm going slow because I want the changes to be permanent. Do you have any tips or tricks I could use? Leave your suggestions in the comments section below.