Is Organic living really important?

What does being organic really mean and how can it be good for your family? We find out and share the best organic foods to eat year round

Is organic living really important?

Have you gone organic?

You can’t go anywhere without seeing some new store proclaiming its ‘natural’ virtues, or reading headlines about the benefits of buying organic, or hearing about the ‘big business’ of going green. And while we want to make the best choice for ourselves, our children and our planet, we sometimes feel a small hint of scepticism. After all, despite the masses of information out there, do we really know why we should go organic?

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But ‘going natural’ does seem to be a very expensive new trend when you compare products.

“I believe we should all reduce the amount of potentially toxic synthetic chemicals that we put inside our bodies and on our skin,” says Janey Lee Grace, the author of the Imperfectly Natural series of books. “No one piece of fruit or synthetic chemical bottle of cream is going to make you unwell, but the cumulative effect of all of these could result in a depleted immune system. Produce that is organically grown has well-documented health benefits because of the absence of chemical pesticides and herbicides. In fact, during war-time people were largely more healthy – partly because they ate less and partly because much of their fruit and veg was grown in their own garden without chemical fertilisers, because these simply weren’t available.”

But ‘going natural’ does seem to be a very expensive new trend when you compare products. So aren’t we all perhaps being conned into paying an excessive amount for our ‘organic’ ranges? “As yet, many items aren’t being mass-produced,” explains Janey. “So they do cost a little more. But you’ll find that when you stop buying products, such as regular air fresheners (and use water and essential oils instead), you’ll save money and packaging and maybe have fewer headaches too.”

OK, so where should I begin? And how do I know what to buy after using my conventional brands for so long?

“Start by buying fresh items from a local farmers’ market,” says Janey. “You’ll taste the difference straightaway and want more of the same. When it comes to household and skincare products, simply replace things as they run out.” When it comes to sourcing the best products on the market, there are plenty of books to help you on your way. The appeal of Janey’s Imperfectly Natural series is that she emphasises that we’re only human, so going natural in an imperfect way is the best way to face the task ahead.

Is organic living really important?

The Best Foods to Eat Organic

While some may feel that the advantages of organic produce are up for debate, there are many foods which are widely accepted to reap the most benefit from a lack of pesticides and growth hormones.  The Pesticide Action Network recommends that even if you cannot eat organic all of the time, basics such as bread and meats that you eat regularly are a good place to start. Below, we list some of the foods to look out for when buying organic for your family:

  • Meats: Beef, Chicken, Pork
  • Dairy: Milk, Cheese, Butter
  • Fruit and Vegetables: Apples, Pears, Strawberries, Raspberries, Cherries, Tomatoes, Peaches, Nectarines, Apricots, Grapes, Celery, Potatoes

Shop, Eat and Cook with the Seasons

  • Spring

Asparagus Try it steamed in pasta, simply with butter and lemon or use as ‘soldiers’ in runny eggs
Cherries A treat in packed lunches, a healthy alternative to sweets and great with yogurt
New potatoes Boil and serve with a little butter and chopped herbs and serve with ham or salmon
Purple sprouting broccoli Stir-fry with soy sauce and sesame seeds
Rhubarb Delicious in crumble or with ice-cream

  • Summer

Blueberries Never better than in a pie, mixed into pancake batter or eaten with yogurt and honey
Courgettes Grate in ribbons and add to a stir-fry, use in place of spaghetti pasta with Bolognese
Peas Try cooked in stock with spring onion and a little shredded lettuce or, with chopped onion, bacon and mint
Strawberries Delicious with shortbread and cream, in classic Eton Mess or on Pavlova
Tomatoes With salt, pepper and a really good olive oil or with mozzarella and basil pesto

  • Autumn

Brussel sprouts Never the same once you have tried them in a lovely creamy gratin or shred and fry with bacon
Beetroot Tastes brilliant with salty feta and a great accompaniment to smoked fish
Butternut Squash Turn it into a delicious soup or chop and roast and serve with Sunday lunch
Figs Try them pureed with some cinnamon rice
Wild mushrooms Grilled on toast or mixed through risotto

  • Winter
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Cauliflower Classic cauliflower cheese or simply roast with olive oil and lemon
Leeks Delicious in a gratin with ham and cheese or added to soups
Parsnips Roasted with honey or mashed as an alternative to potato
Pomegranate Juice or use the seeds in winter salads – great with feta and cous cous. Try a few seeds dropped into Prosecco.
Swede Mashed with bacon and cream, mashed with carrots, butter and black pepper or mashed with sweet potato as a cottage pie topping