Is organic living really important?

What does organic mean and how can it be good for your family? We find out...

Is organic living really important?

Have you gone organic?

You can’t go anywhere without seeing some new shop that’s just opened 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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“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.

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.

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 recommend 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

How to buy and eat with the seasons

Spring

Asparagus Try it steamed in pasta
Cherries A treat in packed lunches
New potatoes Boil and serve with a little butter and chopped herbs
Purple sprouting broccoli Stir-fry with soy sauce and sesame seeds
Rhubarb Delicious in crumble

Summer

Blueberries Never better than in a pie
Courgettes Grate in ribbons and add to a str-fry
Peas Try cooked in stock with spring onion and a little shredded lettuce
Strawberries Delicious with shortbread and cream
Tomatoes With salt, pepper and a really good olive oil

Autumn

Brussel sprouts Never the same once you have tried them in a lovely creamy gratin
Beetroot Tastes brilliant with salty feta
Butternut Squash Turn it into a delicious soup
Figs Try them pureed with some cinnamon rice
Wild mushrooms Grilled on toast

Winter

Cauliflower Classic cauliflower cheese
Leeks Delicious in a gratin with ham and cheese
Parsnips Roasted with honey
Pomegranate Juice or use the seeds in winter salads
Swede Mashed with bacon and cream

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{This article previously appeared in a printed issue of Junior Magazine}