If you earn a low income, or find yourself temporarily unemployed, it can be very difficult to try and maintain a whole-food, organic and/or vegan lifestyle. In most Western societies, fresh, whole foods are more expensive; food manufacturers target lower-income shoppers with more affordable products that tend to include more GMOs and toxic ingredients.
What exactly is a whole-food lifestyle? It involves avoiding foods like non-organic dairy (hormones and antibiotics fed to animals), non-organic meat (again, hormones and antibiotics), commercial corn, soy and canola (usually GMO), anything with chemical additives (color, flavor, preservative), anything likely to have been grown with pesticides and anything containing neurotoxins like MSG, fluoride, or aspartame.
However, when living on a tight budget, one will most likely have to prioritize. Decisions will vary based on your own personal health issues and for whom you are buying the food products. Sometimes, the best that you can do is to carefully select which rules you will break, temporarily, in order to keep you and your family fed until the next paycheck. Even though you would normally live only on locally grown, fresh organic produce, a $50 farmer’s market visit will likely only get you through a few days.
So what is a broke whole-fooder to eat? In a ideal world, you would avoid all potentially dangerous foods. But when you are forced to feed your family on a reduced budget, you’ll need to do your research before doing conventional grocery store shopping.
We, as consumers, do not yet know the long-term effects of genetically modified foods on humans. They could ptentially cause a lot of illnesses. Studies have linked GMOs to the development of tumors, premature death, organ failure, gastric lesions, liver damage, kidney damage, severe allergic reactions, and much more.
Hormones and antibiotics
Livestock animals are usually fed growth hormones, antibiotics, and GMO feed. These poisons enter your body when you eat the livestock’s meat or milk. Growth hormones can cause developmental issues in children, cancer and infertility. Moreover, the prevalence of antibiotics in our food is causing the human race to become less responsive to antibiotics, leaving us vulnerable to powerful infections.
Pesticides are a staple of conventional commercial farming. Pesticides, when consumed, can cause birth defects, nerve damage and cancer in adults and children.
A great debate exists over fluoride, a neurotoxin that causes infertility and has been linked to cancer development and heart disease. MSG, another toxin, can be found in many packaged foods. Aspartame is an ingredient in many diet drinks, as an artificial sweetener. It has been shown to cause brain cell death, headaches, depression, and seizure.
What to buy when you’re broke:
Grains & meat
Grains (organic or with the least amount of additives possible), brown rice, pasta (with recognizable ingredients), couscous, quinoa, barley and meat (grass-fed organic or at least hormone & antibiotic free). Your best option, if you can’t afford organic meat, is to go for the hormone and antibiotic free options as a supplement to vegetarian protein sources like local eggs, beans, and organic dairy products.
Fruits and vegetables
When organic produce is not an option, you should buy fruits and vegetables that have been exposed to as little pesticides as possible. Fruits and vegetables that can be peeled are ideal. Make sure to wash all of your produce carefully before eating. Good options include apples (peeled), asparagus, avocados, cabbage, cantaloupe, grapefruit, mushrooms. onions, oranges, pineapples and sweet potatoes.
Conventional dairy products are loaded with hormones, passed on from dairy cows, who are chemically induced to produce as much milk as possible. These hormones are suspected to cause male/female sex attribute confusion as well as early puberty in girls. These hormones can also cause obesity. Research all dairy products to find out which hormones, if any, they include. Organic dairy will always be preferable: cattle are fed a healthier diet and free of antibiotics.
City water can be treated with fluoride, ammonia and/or chlorine. Try and buy a large jug of mineral water, if budget permits.
Advice: Get growing !
The best way to save at least some of your food budget money is to have a constantly-growing fruit & vegetable garden in your backyard or on your balcony – it’s easier than you think! Tomatoes, lettuce, peppers and spinach will all gladly grow in a pot on the terrace. With a small garden, you’ll be able to supplement your purchases with nutritious, organic, home-grown veggies.
Planning one cheap meal per day is a strategic and painless way to minimize spending. Bread & butter, oatmeal and soup are all inexpensive, filling and nutritious replacements for a more expensive meal.
Don’t give up
Don’t jump ship and abandon a whole-food lifestyle because of hard times. Do the very best you can with the resources available. This is your long term health we are talking about!.