Here is a buying guide based on the food categories (vegetables, fruits, pulses, grains, dairy and poultry) to help you decide how to go organic in a sustainable manner.
- You could start by going organic gradually, but steadily. Start with one category and add more categories as and when possible.
- If you have kids, you could start with the food category that they eat the most, especially whatever they eat raw.
- Another way to start could be to convert to organic starting with the foods that are most pesticide and chemical loaded. For e.g. fruits & vegetables contain higher level of chemicals than dairy products, followed by poultry, pulses, and finally grains.
[Even amongst a category, there are products that are more chemically ‘loaded’ than others. Please refer to our section “Chemical overload in Fruits and Vegetables “ for such information on fruits and vegetables.]
- Try and source milk from a certified organic dairy. You must visit the dairy and ask questions related to hygiene, health of the cows/ buffalos, ask where the fodder is being sourced from, see if they have ample space for the animals to graze, the presence of a vet, see the facility for packaging & storage, observe the time lag before delivery etc. Getting the milk randomly tested at a laboratory can also be an option.
- When buying organic, do check the packaging for certifications, origin of produce, and authenticity before you pay the premium.
- Organic food – grains, pulses, fruits or vegetables – are not likely to look as ‘perfect’ or as uniform as conventional produce. The shapes of the pulses or grains will be different, there may be a weevil in your rice [because no pesticide is used], the apples may not be as shiny red as the conventional ones, sweet fruits may be bitten by insects/ birds etc. While the look may be different, but the taste and nutrition value is surely going to be better!
- Organic Poultry, so far, seems the most difficult to source. While you may still be able to get organic eggs, organic chicken or mutton is still a rarity. Follow the safest route, buy local and fresh poultry, or buy frozen poultry only if certified.
- Local & Seasonal is the best - If you can’t go organic for any reason, then try and eat local & seasonal produce as far as possible.
There are also some brands like Navdanya, which have created trust and credibility with the consumers by more than 20 years of social commitment to farmers and farms. Since one of the biggest concerns while buying organic is the trust, get together with a group of like-minded people, build up trust with your local co-op, sabzi walas and doodhwalas, and that’s one of the most economical and safest ways to go organic.