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Making the switch to an Organic Lifestyle

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So you're thinking of going Organic? Or you just want to buy better quality and high welfare but aren't sure where to start or how you'll afford any of it? The very idea of switching your entire lifestyle to an Organic one may seem tumultuous, so you could be forgiven a little hesitation in committing to doing so! Luckily for you we've already muddled our way through the switch ourselves and are now enjoying the benefits, so let our experiences help you and your family in making the transition a little easier.


The taste bud transition:

I can remember times growing up when my parents had splashed out on some nice free-range or organic something or another, and we'd sit there trying to analyse whether or not it tasted better. The bizarre thing is that because we were so accustomed to the processed versions of everything, we agreed we all preferred them over the 'real' food and so didn't bother buying the expensive stuff! My taste buds may well have been fooled but my body itself certainly hadn't and continued to protest in the only way it could – through a combination of joint and abdominal pains, poor skin condition and low energy levels, waiting for the day I woke up to the cause of it all.

So for many people, myself included, the first few times I tried switching to REAL food (veggies aside anyway) I didn't like it! It didn't taste like I was used to, wasn't fake enough. Which sounds ridiculous, and really it is but the comfortable norm is often just whatever we're used to... These days we're all far too accustomed to high salt, high sugar, and high fat processed food and so anything within healthy levels can seem extremely bland by comparison.

Organic fruit and veg is a completely different story to the processed products. It has a much better, somehow fuller, texture and flavour and seems to be something that people really notice – and finally in a good way! Studies have shown that Organic produce contains more nutrients than non-organic, perhaps suggesting that our taste buds can detect nutrient value. More nutrients = more flavour!


The convenience factor:

These days there is a massively growing industry in 'healthy' and organic processed foods, bringing the familiar cereals, cakes and snacks back within reach of those trying to make better choices. In our experience some are tasty and some aren't, but then I would say that goes with the regular 'unhealthy' processed foods that we're used to as well. Of course no processed food, even if it's organic can really claim to be as healthy as fruit, veg, and meat in its truly natural forms but life's for enjoying in moderation, right? ;) What these healthier options do offer us of course is some help to ease the transition to more natural foods with less refined sugars, more nutrients, and better fats.

Both myself and Ryan still require sugar in our cereal, we much prefer syrup on our pancakes over fruit and yogurt, and a big slathering of rich condiment on oiled chips when we have them so definitely have a ways to go with improving our diet - though we would still be considered healthy eaters in comparison to many. Initially we simply switched all of our usual foods to Organic versions where we could source them, gaining only the benefit of lowering the level of ingested chemicals and a higher nutritional value – still keeping the bad refined sugar and fats that were all too familiar. Still that was enough to see a marked improvement in health which has only spurred us on. Now we have managed to source Organic and raw versions of everything we need, we make our own breads and anything else we can, meaning we're finally free of those pesky pesticides and we know that it has been sourced and made in a fair way that doesn't pollute our natural world.


Balancing the budget.

It's certainly tricky enough balancing a shopping budget with the rest of life which can be especially worrying when you see the price difference between 'chemical' and organic. I know! I also understand that we all live such differing lives with different responsibilities and opportunities that there is no one-fits-all solution. I'd like to be able to tell you that morality is easier and cheaper but alas that's not often the case is it? What impact we have on this world however is always our own responsibility, to decide upon and live with alone. Here are some suggestions at least which I hope can help and inspire you to find your balancing sweet spot:

Grow your own - Seeds are way cheaper in comparison to the finished produce. Of course how much your time costs you is something you must figure out for your own circumstances but everyone has the ability to grow something even if you only sprout some seeds and micro-greens! 

Do It Yourself - Wherever you can, make instead of buying made. It's often much cheaper to buy the ingredients to make your own condiments, breads and cakes etc separately as they are in larger quantities. Home made condiments can also have so much more flavour than those preserved in plastic bottles on a supermarket shelf, and let's face it, if you're making it you can get it just how YOU want it - how freeing! Perhaps you'll discover your own secret sauce recipe that's the envy of all your BBQ guests? ;) Of course you pay for the convenience of saving your time, again as with growing your own we must personally decide on what our time costs us and what we're willing to pay with.

Bulk it up - Buying in bulk is always cheaper overall. If you don't have the money to invest in bulk purchases of one thing all to yourself, perhaps club together with some friends and family to share a good deal. There is also the trick of learning how to bulk up your meals with cheap and hearty ingredients to make the choice cuts go further - think stews, soups, lentils and dumplings! See our recipe pages for some wholesome meal ideas. See our Modern & Mobile Homesteading page for ways to make the most of your resources, without owning your own farm!

Organise! - All of our hard earned money saving and environmental efforts can quickly be undone by extra shopping trips because we've run out of something mid week – argh! List makers excel here; keep track of what you have, what you will need, and when you will get it. Plan your meals around these notes and don't let yourself waste a single thing.

Take advantage - Most supermarkets offer a delivery service and often have promotions running to get a decent amount of money off of your first or subsequent orders online. Combine this with any other product promotions and loyalty discounts etc and you stand to save a considerable amount of money. Don't forget to switch between companies to get as many offers as you can and keep an eye out for coupons and freebies, it feels good to get savvy!


Think outside of the box... There may be other areas in your life through which you can save or make money which will help support your new and improved lifestyle, like I said we're all different so what are your skills? If you've have any more ideas please help us to help more people switch to a healthier Organic lifestyle by leaving a comment below.

The logistics of switching:

If there's one thing we've learned through making the switch ourselves, it's important for your sanity and the likelihood of success to make your transition process a gradual one! Too much too soon becomes overwhelming to say the least and you may feel like chucking in the towel and going back to your old bad ways. The trouble is how can you go on buying rubbish when you've discovered the truth?

Start with whatever you find easiest and as your skills and taste improve, switch more things. When and where your budget allows, switch (or indulge!) a little more. Eventually you will find yourself on the other side, living a healthy and sustainable lifestyle wondering what you was ever doing before! It's taken us a good couple of years to get to where we are now.

Don't sweat the small stuff! If you give in to chemical laden cheap convenience food, don't sweat it and don't give up. Sometimes we all just need a break and that is entirely noble thing in itself, and no-one wants to be that guy that won't eat anything at Great Uncle Larry's birthday party because it's 'not good enough' for him! Perhaps organise the next party yourself and show your friends and family just how good healthy food can be? 

Switching your entire way of life to an Organic lifestyle is a massive undertaking given just how widespread the use of pesticides, artificial chemicals, and additives have become in our food system but it's a maze that can be navigated if you just keep at it. If bowing to convenience is an annoyingly regular occurrence however, do try to rectify whatever is getting you into these rush-eat situations in the first place.  Our lives are like those sliding-square puzzles, in which things often need to be reshuffled to avoid negative impacts from other aspects, hobbies, and work. Like gathering junk or dust in an old carpet, it's good to give our lives a brisk shake up occasionally!


Eating out:

This has to be the sticking point for us. There are unfortunately a huge gap the fast food and restaurant market for Organic eats at this moment in time. Here and there, more and more small businesses are launching Organic food outlets all over the country (which is great!) but we personally still struggle to find any wherever we go. Hopefully you'll have more luck! 

The next best thing is to visit places that at least champion wholesome home made dishes and source local meat and produce. A lot of high quality pubs and restaurants are taking the ethics and quality control of their ingredients into their own hands, growing their own produce and even keeping hens for eggs in the gardens - which to us is just awesome and we hope to see more!

If we have to eat out somewhere that isn't certified organic then I try to order the items I feel are best for me, and if we find we must go fast food I don't sweat it. I just make sure that next time I'm better prepared so as not to require the 'convenience'.


Thank you for reading, I hope you've been able to get something useful out of this article to help you find your very own 'good life'! If it has, or if you have any suggestions for other people making the switch please leave us a comment below!


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Sarah is a UK artist and writer with a lifetime interest in camping and survival techniques.

Living the #vanlife since before it was a hashtag and touring on two wheels with her husband Ryan, they have a wealth of camping and motorcycling knowledge to share, and know a thing or two about packing light! read more

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