It’s national Organic Week here in New Zealand and it’s great to see more people becoming more aware of our impact on the environment, sustainability and wellbeing. As a result, it’s becoming more common to choose organic options over others. If you think organic food is super expensive, you might be surprised that it doesn’t always have to be.
Here’s a rundown on what organic food actually is, the benefits and how to include more organic food in your diet without it breaking the bank.
What is organic food and it’s benefits?
‘Organic’ refers to how food is produced. Organic foods are grown or farmed without the use of man-made fertilisers and pesticides or antibiotics.
According to MPI,
“Organic agriculture relies on crop rotations, manures and other organic wastes (compost) to maintain soil productivity, and to supply plant nutrients. It emphasises a combination of physical or biological methods to control insects, weeds and other pests….”
In organic animal farming, animals are fed with organic feeds and graze on pasture maintained to organic standards and the use of antibiotics and medicines are restricted.
Organic farming has the potential to produce environmental benefits. According to The agricultural European Innovation Partnership organic farming has the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, deliver greater biodiversity, improve water quality and increase carbon sequestration.
So what about nutrition?
Some studies show that organic fruit and vegetables have higher levels of antioxidants than conventionally grown produce. When it comes to the vitamin and mineral content, research shows that in general, there’s not really any significant difference between organics and conventionally grown food.
Eating fruit and vegetables is good for your wellbeing and the goal should always be eating them, whatever the source.
The good news is that if want to eat more organic food, it doesn’t have to be super expensive. You don’t have to spend big money or go to specialty stores to incorporate more organic foods into your diet. Countdown has a wide variety of organic products, including the Macro Organic range made from certified organic ingredients. While growing your own vegetables is a lower cost way to eat organics, if you don’t have a garden and want to choose fresh organic vegetables, Countdown also have a wide range of organic produce grown right here in NZ.
I often check out the Macro range and use their products because the quality is excellent and they are affordable too. In my fridge at the moment I have their tahini and mustard and I’ll often buy the tomatoes, pasta and legumes.
Here’s a sample of some of the Macro Organic products and how you can use them in your cooking.
1. Macro Organic tinned tomatoes
At only $1.50 each, using Macro Organic tomatoes is a simple swap to make in the kitchen. Tinned tomatoes are an absolute pantry essential in our household. We use them for sauces, soups, in mince dishes, and casseroles.
Here’s some of my current favourites:
- Nadia Lim’s Kasundi Sauce. This indian spiced tomato sauce is simple to make and is a nice side accompaniment to many meals.
- Moroccan tomato and chickpea soup Hot soup is a winner on a cold day, especially when it’s ready in less than half an hour. This soup is simple to make.
2. Use Macro Organic mustard to boost flavour
Mustard is an essential item in my household – dijon mustard and wholegrain mustard add a lot of flavour to many dishes. The Macro brands are only $3 each and are actually cheaper than some of the non organic brands available.
A delicious marinade for chicken is 3 cloves of crushed garlic, juice from a lemon, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 3 tablespoons of honey and two tablespoons of dijon mustard.
I also use mustard on sandwiches, in dressings and on meat.
3. Add Macro Organics Chickpeas, Lentils or Kidney Beans to your diet
Legumes are a really underrated food that are nutritious and very affordable – even when you choose organic. Macro lentils, chickpeas, kidney beans and mixed beans are only $1.50 a tin and are a versatile pantry item to have on hand.
Legumes are a good source of dietary fibre and include resistant starch which provides a source of fuel for our gut bacteria. These types of ‘prebiotic’ fibre help with growth of the beneficial bacteria in the gut which in turn could be beneficial for your gut microbiome. They provide a range of vitamins and minerals, provide a source of plant based protein and slow digesting carbohydrate.
For those who have Irritable Bowel Syndrome and follow a low FODMAP diet, the process of canning legumes lowers their FODMAP levels so that some can be added to the diet ( in appropriate serving sizes).
How to use them in your cooking:
- Canned kidney beans make the most delicious vegetarian nachos.
- Home made hummus is really easy to make using tinned chickpeas. Macro also produce a yummy tahini too that you can use with your hummus recipe.
- I add a tin lentils to mince dishes like shepherd’s pie or spaghetti bolognaise. The fussy people in my house don’t notice and it definitely bulks out the meal which means left overs for the next night!
- Chickpeas are yummy in roast vegetable or rice salads. They’re also great in curries.
4. Macro Organics Pasta Sauce
As a mum who also works full time, I need easy meals in my life. One of those is spag bol or spaghetti and meatballs. I always thought of it as a cheap student dish but we have one of these at a couple of times a month. It’s easy and a great way to pack in lots of vegetables and it’s also a good way to incorporate lentils without anyone turning up their noses. I use a jar of pasta sauce and a tin of tomatoes and add lots of extra veges. Plus my 2.5 year old loves it, veges and all.
The Macro Organics range have two different pasta sauces and they’re $4.50 for a 500g jar which is great value.
Organic food options are definitely growing so if you want to include more organics, it doesn’t need to be overly expensive, thanks to Countdown!
This post was sponsored by Countdown.