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August 19, 2009

The Girl's Guide to Eating Green

News flash: Going organic shouldn't require a trust fund or a Ph.D. in botany. We quizzed the experts and scoured the produce aisles to devise a healthy, eco-friendly action plan suitable for everyone.

GREEN LINGO: A GROCERY STORE PRIMER
FACT OR FICTION? 5 GREEN-EATING MYTHS

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bundle of organic spinach

Photo Credit: michael balderas/iStockphoto

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The Low-Maintenance GreenieYou know the healthy-eating basics: Refined carbohydrates, bad. Fresh vegetables, good. But you work long hours and barely have three minutes to nuke a Lean Cuisine, much less sauté an herbaceous medley for dinner. While you like the idea of buying more organic food, it sounds pricey—and you haven't gotten a raise in almost two years.

WHERE TO SHOP:

No need to ditch your favorite grocery store. About 75 percent of American supermarkets carry some organic food, and many of the big chains boast their own affordable organic brands (e.g., Safeway's O Organics, Stop & Shop's Nature's Promise). Stick to the periphery of the store—the most heavily processed foods are shelved in the middle. Imagine you're trolling the aisles with your great-grandma in tow, suggests sustainable-eating guru Michael Pollan in his book In Defense of Food (required reading for the au naturel set). If she wouldn't recognize something as food—read: Gummi Bears or Cap'n Crunch—think twice before picking it up.

YOUR GREEN GROCERY LIST:

Organic meats and dairy foods. The pesticides that collect in the fatty tissue of conventionally farmed meat products are fat-soluble, so they can stay in your body for years (unlike the pesticides on produce, which we eliminate relatively quickly). Plus, nonorganic meats and dairy products are loaded with antibiotics and growth hormones.

Domestic produce. "Chemicals banned in the U.S. often get sold to other countries and sent back to us as residue on fruits and vegetables," says Jennifer Sass, a scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council. Last year, Congress passed a law requiring country-of-origin labeling on all produce. Look for it. And play it safe: Even if an apple is from New York, wash it well—and peel it, if possible.

Whole-grain foods. Most have fewer additives than processed white pastas and breads. Even Saltines contain high-fructose corn syrup.

NEXT PAGE >> THE UP-AND-COMING GREENIE


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