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National Nutrition Month: Eating Healthy without Expensive Organics

by on March 27, 2012

March is National Nutrition Month and the PowerWallet team wants to help you get into the routine of eating healthy without costing you a fortune. When most people think about eating healthy, one of the first things they think about is going organic. Organic food is supposed to be healthier, right? But once you have gotten to the store and realized the costs associated with eating healthy, you may be less motivated.

So is it back to candy bars and fast food for you?

In truth, eating healthy has little to do with eating organic. Organic food means pesticides and chemicals weren’t used during the growing process including chemical additives or any genetic modifications. Organic food is more expensive because it costs more money to grow bug-free vegetables without using pesticide. Higher costs for the farmers mean higher prices at the store.
Whether you eat organic or non-organic broccoli, you will still reap the same nutritional benefits but with organic food, you are riding your body of harmful unnatural chemicals. Eating organic food from your local grocery store is a great way to be healthy, but it’s not the only way.

Other ways to eat healthy include:

• Buy at farmer’s markets and local co-ops. The prices are often cheaper and the food is much fresher—which means it actually may have more nutritional content, because vegetables and fruits in particular start losing vitamins and minerals from the minute they’re picked. The closer you are to the farm, the healthier your produce.

• Always buy in-season. Off-season items are usually more expensive (and less environmentally friendly) because they get shipped in. Buying in-season items will save you money and help you keep a fresh seasonal menu at your home. The same is true with fish, as well as produce.

• Avoid pre-packaged foods. You can make meals that are just as healthy as packaged brand food for about half the cost if you cook everything from scratch. Pre-packaged and even pre-prepped ingredients simply cost more than getting all the ingredients whole and doing the prep/cooking yourself.

• Grow herbs at home. While you may not have the space for a full vegetable garden behind your house (or on your balcony if you live in a high rise), you probably have room for a few little pots with fresh herbs. Many herbs are high in antioxidants and picking them fresh gives you the highest nutritional value possible.

• Make soups with leftover produce/meats. So much food is simply wasted because it goes bad in the fridge. Typically people use what they need of that bunch of celery, and then leave the leftovers to go bad. Get some stock, a little seasoning to your taste, and all your leftover ingredients from the week into a stewpot for a fresh, healthy soup that saves you money on wasted ingredients.

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