Did you know that consumer expenditures may have dropped 2.8% in 2009? However, when it came to organic products, people were willing to open up their wallets?
According to the Organic Trade Association, U.S. organic sales, including food and non-food products, grew 5.3% from 2008, totaling $26.6 billion.
While buying organic can be beneficial, health-conscious consumers don't have to pay extra for that label on every food or cosmetic product they buy, say experts. Here are the top 5 organic grocery items most experts say NOT to waste your money and time on:
1. Organic Wild Seafood (No such thing exists...)
"Don't buy wild-caught seafood labeled organic, because there is no such thing as organically-grown wild seafood," says Jeff Cox, author of The Organic Cook's Bible. "The diet of the sea creatures can't be ascertained or controlled. Anyone selling wild-caught seafood as organic is committing fraud."
2. Why Smelly Veggies Are Usually Pest-Free
Cindy Burke, author of To Buy Or Not To Buy Organic, says she rarely splurges for organic onions, garlic, shallots, and leeks.
"They have such a strong sulfurous smell that few pests are attracted to them -- particularly the bulb part -- so they don't need pesticides. Green onions are the exception because they are grown more for the top part and it's important that they look good, so farmers tend to spray them with pesticides."
Pests also don't like cruciferious vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage, Burke adds. "They too have a strong sulfurous smell so pests don't find them very appealing. Pests are more attracted to something that is sweet, tender and juicy -- like humans."
3. Organic Junk Food Is Still Just Junk Food
Jonny Bowden, a Ph.D, CNN board-certified nutritionist and author of 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth, says the one thing he would never splurge on is "organic junk food."
"On a daily basis, I see absolutely junky cereals that are organic, like organic Cap'n Crunch or organic Choco-Krispies. Just because it was made of organic ingredients -- like organically-grown wheat, organically-grown sugar, etc. -- doesn't mean it's not a high-carb, processed junk food.
It annoys me to see the label 'organic' on these foods, because it is meant to imply that they're somehow good for you when all it means is that the junk food was made out of junky ingredients that were grown without pesticides."
4. Non-Organic Grains and Rice Mixes Work Fine
"For grains and products that do not include meat or dairy, it is not necessary to buy organic," says Sophia Aslanis, a registered dietitian and founder of Nutrition 4 Life.
"A better alternative would be choosing whole grain items and less processed foods. Organic rice mixes that include the 'Clean 15' vegetables like sweet peas, sweet corn, eggplant and sweet onions are not necessarily worth the extra cost."
5. More Flavor for Less Money by Growing Your Own Herbs
I do this and I wouldn't change it for the world! In Pennsylvania the growing season is far shorter than what I grew up with back in Texas.
I am somehow always out in the dark night before our first frost frantically cutting herbs to dry for winter. Well, that's what I used to do.
A couple of years ago I bought one of those AeroGarden planters and grow herbs 365 years a day now. With the average cost of a small jar of your favorite dried herb running $5.00... growing your own saves you a ton of money, while you get to use fresh versions that cannot be beat for what they deliver in flavor and nutrition.
"Growing your own organic culinary herbs is one way just about anyone, even those living in very small spaces, can save money," says Gayla Trail, Yougrowgirl.com blogger and author of Grow Great Grub: Organic Food from Small Spaces.
"Herbs are a very cost-effective crop in that one plant can provide a very reasonable harvest over a long period of time.
Mint, oregano, thyme, rosemary, marjoram and parsley plants purchased as small transplants and transferred to a few very large pots will start to produce small harvests in just a few weeks and keep producing over the growing season with little effort," she says.
Cilantro, basil and dill, for example, are easily grown from seed. Trail recommends eating fresh herbs during the prime gardening months and preserve the rest by freezing or drying for use during the off-season.
Thyme, oregano, marjoram, chives and parsley are fairly resilient plants that will tough it out on a sunny windowsill, she says. "So you can add small snips of fresh herbs to your meals through the winter months."
This should help you save some money while opting for organic products that make sense. Just another way to create a healthier lifestyle without breaking the bank.
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