Going Organic: 5 Simple Switches You Can Make

If you have landed here because you’re keen to learn more about buying more organics, then you have come to the right place. 

Let’s be honest: there is a lot of information about making the switch to organic available online. 

Organic versus regenerative, non-GMO, ugly produce, it can all be enough to make a person’s head spin. 

That’s why we’re here to help cut through the information overload and provide a starting point in your organic journey — with five simple switches you can make to add more organics into your life in a way that won’t overwhelm you, or your budget.

1) Start with the “Dirty Dozen”

The “dirty dozen” might sound like something out of a Clint Eastwood film — but in fact it refers to nonorganic produce that contains the highest levels of pesticide contamination.

Researchers at the Environmental Working Group (EWG) — a non profit health organization — analyze testing data on samples of fruits and vegetables conducted by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). Each year, a rotating list of produce is tested by USDA staffers who wash, peel or scrub fruits and vegetables as consumers would before the food is examined for 251 different pesticides.

In 2023, the Dirty Dozen includes :

  • Strawberries
  • Spinach
  • Kale, collard and mustard greens
  • Peaches
  • Pears
  • Nectarines
  • Apples
  • Grapes
  • Bell and hot peppers
  • Cherries
  • Blueberries
  • Green beans

This doesn’t mean you can’t or shouldn’t buy nonorganic versions of these fruits and vegetables — just that if you are looking for a simple switch, consider replacing one (or more) of the “dirty dozen” with their organic counterparts.

2) Support your local farmers market

Many cities, as well as towns, have weekly farmers markets, where local farmers — as well as other small businesses — sell their produce directly to consumers.

Products sold at farmers markets are often lower cost, because the farmers are selling direct-to-consumers, which means no markups. Additionally, visiting farmers markets can help you get a better sense of what’s in season — and what will be coming up — so you can tailor your meal planning.

Not sure if there’s a farmers market near you? Many provinces and territories have built their own directories, so try inputting ‘farmers market near [postal code]’ or ‘farmers market in [city]’ and see what comes up.

3) Try a CSA

No, it’s not some new wellness trend or niche food fad.

CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture, which allows the public to support farmers by purchasing a share (or half-shares, or bimonthly shares) of the harvest — either from an individual farm or group of farms — at the beginning of the growing season.

In exchange for purchasing a share, CSA members receive fresh produce throughout the growing season. Many CSA Farms also provide members with surprises in their boxes, like occasionally adding fruits or eco-friendly goods from their partners.

To find a CSA near you, check out our directory list.

4) Eat what’s in season

Organic produce prices will often vary depending on the season. By tailoring your meals to what’s in season — or making substitutions in recipes for in-season items — you can save money, and you might even find a new twist on an old favourite.

Additionally, by shopping based on seasonal offerings, you’ll help to reduce your carbon footprint and ensure you’re eating local. When organic produce is sold out-of-season, it’s often been imported to Canada from another country — meaning that the environmental impact is a lot higher than if you buy local, seasonal products.

Canning, preserving and freezing seasonal organic food is also another great way to extend the season!

5) Shop the sales

Organic food often goes on sale — just like non-organics products do.

Check for sales or coupons at your local grocery store. Grocery stores also often bundle deals — 2 for 1, buy one, get one, etc. — so buy in bulk when they are on offer. Some stores will also lower prices on fresh produce at the end of the day, so stop by shortly before the store closes and you might score a deal.

Finally, many bulk or discount stores like Costco have begun to embrace organic too so keep an eye out for organic produce — even in places like the frozen food section!

6) No one is practically perfect in every way (except for Mary Poppins)

We said we’d give you five tips but here’s a bonus sixth one — don’t try to be perfect.

If you’re on a strict budget, or live somewhere where organic options can be hard to find (and don’t have access to a car or reliable public transport), it’s important not to stress about not eating 100% organic.

Even by making little changes to your diet and purchasing habits, you can have a big impact — for local farmers and for the environment alike!