“Going organic” can seem overwhelming:

  • How do I know this produce really is organic?
  • Where do I find certified organic food?
  • How can I fit organic foods into my family’s food budget?
  • Does organic food require a different type of preparation?

It can make you feel as if you’re back in middle school in Cooking 101 class. In other words, you feel inept and no one wants to feel that way.

OrganiceEating.com to the rescue! Take a look below for a short “Beginner’s Guide to Going Organic.”

  1. Shop the outer walls of your grocery store.

If your grocery store doesn’t sell organic food, your next bet is to shop only the store’s perimeter. This tends to be where the fresh vegetables, fruits, meats, milk, eggs, and dairy are located.

  1. Beginner’s organic grocery list.

If your store does offer organic produce and/or meat and dairy, it’s best if you purchase only organic varieties of the following fruits and vegetables because their conventionally grown brethren tend to be the most contaminated with pesticides and chemicals:

  • Spinach
  • Peaches
  • Apples
  • Nectarine
  • Sweet Bell Peppers
  • Cucumbers
  • Celery
  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Strawberries
  • Snap Peas
  • Kale/Collard Greens
  • Potatoes
  1. Realize there’s a difference between “natural” and “organic.”

Any product labeled natural might not be organic because only those labeled “USDA Certified Organic” have been certified as having met the strict uniform standards the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has set. Any product with that USDA certified label has been grown to those standards.

  1. Watch how much you boil organic vegetables.

You don’t want to boil them to mush – doing so reduces the mineral content within them drastically. Instead, steam them until they are tender but still a bit crunchy.

  1. To save a lot of money, buy your organic fruits and vegetables “in season.”

Apples are fall fruits; buy them in the fall. Strawberries don’t grow in January and so if you’re looking for organic strawberries and you see them in your organic grocer’s in winter, double check that they truly are certified organic. If they are certified organic and for sale in January, you’re going to pay a lot more for them than you will in June.

  1. Look for easy and delicious organic recipes online.

Cooking organic isn’t hard; it’s just the same as cooking with conventionally grown food (although you’ll want to be sure any condiments or seasonings you use also are organic).

Some sites with great recipes include The Whole Daily, Deliciously Organic, the Organic Center, and more.

  1. No need to “go organic” all at once.

You don’t have to throw out all conventionally grown food away at once. Instead, replace your non-organic meats, dairy and produce when you run out, swapping them for food grown and produced organically.

It’s more than OK to take baby steps on your way to eating organically. Start, for example, by using only organic produce for your vegetable dishes. Move up to dairy and eggs next. Finish with organic meat and fish.