Adopting an organic lifestyle is something that more and more people are doing these days, as they realize just how processed and synthetic many of our everyday products have become.
While it’s admirable to live organically, it also takes a lot of effort and is not something that can happen overnight.
How do you live an organic lifestyle? The term organic refers to something grown or processed without the use of synthetics and living this lifestyle means you primarily choose products that are made with ingredients that fit this definition.
This can include meat and dairy, vegetables and fruits, grains, skincare and haircare products, and even cleaning products.
While it’s near impossible to live a 100% organic life, there are real and impactful changes one can make.
If you’ve always contemplated whether the organic lifestyle is possible for you, this guide will walk you through the basics to find out what it’s all about.
What is an Organic Lifestyle?
The term ‘organic’ has become a buzzword in the last decade, with all kinds of foods and products starting to proudly display they’re organic also.
Although most of us assume organic means naturally made, there’s a bit more that goes into it than that, so getting a handle on these basic definitions can help.
According to the US Department of Agriculture or USDA, organic food must be produced by farmers who follow a set of standards including not using synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, or herbicides.
They should also utilize renewable resources and be committed to conservation methods in their farming, ensuring the land and soil can be used by future generations.
Living an organic lifestyle is about embracing these products and foods, and trying your best to use them exclusively.
As well as choosing organic products at the supermarket, you might also commit to using cleaning products made without synthetic chemicals, growing a garden in your backyard, having a skincare and haircare routine consisting of organic products, or using organic diapers rash creams, and lotions on your baby.
While it sounds easy enough to do when you see the range of organic products and resources out there, it takes a lot of time to transition.
The organic lifestyle isn’t a perfect one, as there’s not always going to be a way to do something organically, but just making small changes will have a great impact on the earth.
The Benefits of Living Organic
If you’ve ever contemplated living an organic lifestyle, it’s probably because you’ve already tried some organic products and noticed a difference.
These are just some of the most common benefits of going organic so you can see what the fuss is all about.
More nutrients in your food
The difference between organically grown food and produce that’s been treated with synthetic chemicals is huge.
According to the Soil Association, organic crops were found to have higher levels of essential minerals and vitamins compared to synthetically grown ones.
The food that you’re eating will have the highest component of good stuff possible when you make the switch to organic.
A healthier body
All of these added nutrients can do wonders for your body, but it’s not just that which makes you healthier.
People usually find that living an organic lifestyle means they eat more fresh produce and non-processed foods than before, which directly translates to a healthier physical state.
The mere thought of going organic can make you feel good about doing your part, so when you start putting it into action, you’ll feel even better.
There’s a great sense of satisfaction knowing you’re eating only the most natural foods and contributing to the health of the planet, rather than destroying it.
Improved mental health
When you commit to growing some of your own produce using organic methods, you’ll likely notice an improvement in your mental wellbeing.
Studies have shown that horticultural therapy is a real thing and it can treat both physical and mental conditions, so getting into your garden can only do you good.
A better future
It’s not just you who will benefit from going organic, but the whole world. When farmers use organic growing methods, that means less toxic runoff, soil pollution, and water pollution, because there’s nothing there to contribute.
The soil organisms, insects, and animals won’t be poisoned and the overall health of the earth will be better because of it. This means a more sustainable way of farming that leaves something for future generations as well.
The Downsides to Going Organic
There is no shortage of benefits to be found with the organic lifestyle, but it’s not all roses.
There are some downsides that everyone should be aware of before trying to transition to an organic way of life, so consider how these might affect you.
Not everyone is lucky enough to have access to a farmer’s market that sells organic produce or have a backyard that lets them grow their own veggie patch.
While organic goods have become more accessible in the last few years, there are still some areas in the US that have trouble with availability so it can be a little harder.
The cost of an organic piece of fruit is almost always going to be higher than a regular one when you’re shopping in a supermarket. Sometimes, just the organic label on a product makes it cost twice as much.
Organic goods take longer to grow and require a more hands-on approach, so they usually cost more. This is true for many organic goods, so learning the way to shop organically on a budget is the best way to counteract it.
Doesn’t always taste better
Some people assume that an organic apple will automatically taste better than a synthetically grown one, just because it doesn’t have any chemicals on it.
However, you still have to choose farmers and producers that create quality goods and harvest quality crops, as simply being organic isn’t enough to guarantee a better taste.
How to Eat Organically
Eating organically is a process that takes time, and most people find success by making just a few simple swaps at a time.
To get a good idea of what’s available to you, take a look around at local farmer’s markets, the supermarket, health food stores, and online stores so you can see what types of organic products are readily available.
As well as buying organic goods, you can also grow many of them at home. A simple veggie patch or a herb garden can provide you with some basic produce at a much cheaper cost, so don’t assume that you have to purchase everything from the store.
Learning what’s in season and improving your gardening skills takes time and effort though, so don’t expect to be able to supply yourself with fresh produce right away.
Some people choose to combine their organic lifestyle with a vegan diet, as many vegan products come with the organic certification, and the two tie in well together.
However, it’s not a necessity unless you want to do it. There are still lots of options for organic meats, eggs, poultry, and dairy products that you can choose from that are farmed more sustainably and naturally, without having to convert to a vegan diet.
Running an Organic Household
After implementing some organic foods into their diet, many people are ready to take the next step towards an organic lifestyle that is transforming their household.
As well as eating naturally grown foods, these are some of the other changes you can make towards an organic life.
There’s a huge market for organic clothing out there now, with brands that utilize fair trade partnerships, create eco-friendly and non-toxic garments, and use only organic natural fibers in their clothing.
Something as simple as swapping to organic cotton underwear is a great place to start as you build on your wardrobe.
Organic skincare and haircare
The organic skincare market has boomed recently but it’s an area to be cautious in. just because a product is labeled as organic doesn’t mean it’s right for you or even that it’s any good.
Spend some time researching to see what others think about organic shampoos, moisturizers, and makeup, before diving into the first brand you find.
Organic cleaning products
Not only are chemical cleaning products bad for the inhabitants of our home, but they can also be washed away down drains and into the soil to do further damage.
Organic cleaning products are non-toxic, friendly for plants, pets, and children, and contain organically grown, natural ingredients that can do a better job than your old cleaning agents.
Organic household items
Take a look around your house at the range of items you use every day and there’s probably an organic alternative for them.
Pet shampoos, diaper rash cream, notepads, cooking utensils, and just about anything you can think of are now available in organic form. While not entirely necessary, it can be nice to splurge occasionally on these types of items.
The most expensive step you can take towards an organic lifestyle is choosing organic furniture, so it might not be possible right away.
There are now bed frames, sofas, and chairs made of organically and sustainably grown timber and featuring no glues or other synthetic chemicals in their manufacturing.
The Costs of Living Organically
The biggest deterrent for most people when thinking about going organic is the heightened cost.
For someone already living on a budget or trying to feed a large family, the thought of making these substitutions might not be justifiable, even once you realize just how many chemicals are used to grow and process most of the foods that we eat.
Anyone who’s visited a supermarket before and tallied up the cost of a few organic items, like free-range eggs, organic carrots, and biodynamic milk then compared it to the regular stuff will know how much of a difference it can make.
One study of 17 different organic products found they were priced between 7% and 82% more than the non-organic alternative, so it’s understandable why some people are deterred.
However, there are ways that you can live organically without having to spend a fortune and if you’re committed to planning it will be a lot easier.
This enables you to save your money for the organic products that matter so that you don’t become unmotivated and resentful of this way of living.
Tips for Going Organic On a Budget
To counteract the costs of some organic products, there are a few tricks that those living the organic lifestyle have learned.
Here are a few ideas for cutting costs that will still allow you to enjoy the benefits of going organic.
Find foods in season
Shopping in season is the smartest approach at the supermarket, but especially when you’re following an organic lifestyle.
With each season, there will be some products that are cheaper and more readily available, so resist the urge to grab anything that’s not in this category.
Keep an eye out for sales and discounts for other organic products, so you’re always shopping for the cheapest items.
Grow your own
Whether you have a windowsill or a full backyard, there are opportunities for growing organic goods at home.
Something as simple as organic basil can save you a few dollars a week, or if you’re able to harvest tomatoes and spinach you can save upwards of $10 a week.
All of these small changes add up to something substantial and you’ll perfect your green thumb while you’re at it.
Know which foods are safe
Some certain fruits and vegetables use more chemicals than others in the growing process, and some don’t have many at all.
Learning which ones lets you know when to buy organic goods from the list of pesticide hefty ones, and save money by buying the nonorganic version of foods that haven’t been treated as heavily.
Strawberries, apples, spinach, tomatoes, celery, and potatoes are just some of the nonorganic foods you’ll want to avoid. Corn, cantaloupe, avocado, onions, and eggplant are those that are a lot safer.
Use your freezer
Following on from buying in season, you also freeze some produce if you take advantage of it being available for a cheaper price.
If you’re lucky enough to find organic fruits and vegetables that are discounted because they’re not as fresh anymore, freeze these and use them later in soups and hot dishes where you won’t be able to tell the difference.
Look for wholesale retailers
Whether you’re buying organic shampoo or organic peanuts, there are some great places to get a bargain when you shop wholesale.
This bulk buying process lets you purchase larger amounts for a reduced price, so you can store them until you’re ready to use them.
While thrifty, you have to be careful about the expiration date on some goods, as there’s no point having a box full of something organic when it’s already past its prime.
DIY and homemade goods
There are cheaper ways to do things just by looking around the house, so think about ways you can reduce waste and save money.
Rather than throwing out all of your clothes and buying organic ones, wait until they’re no longer usable and then make the switch.
Try some homemade recipes for face masks, cleaning products, and dog shampoo that uses organic ingredients so you’re not spending up on branded goods.
How Are Products Certified Organic?
In the United States, it’s the USDA that’s responsible for certifying products as organic, and this is a trusted process that can make it easy to choose the right stuff.
To get a better idea of what this process involves, so you can see how detailed it is, these are the steps that the USDA takes to award a company organic certification:
The business or farm must use organic practices as laid out by USDA, use a USDA-accredited agent to certify it, and then submit an application and the relevant costs to them.
The agent will then review their application to make sure that the farm’s or company’s processes are in line with the USDA’s regulations on organic products.
An inspector will conduct an in-depth inspection of the business’s operation, including farms, warehouses, and processing plants, making certain checks.
The application is reviewed and a report from the inspector is given along with it, so the certifying agent can determine whether the business is USDA organic compliant.
If the application is approved, the company will be given an organic certificate by the certifying agent. They can use this on product packaging and marketing materials to signify their organic certification.
This could be either 100% organic or certified organic, depending on the product.
Maintaining the organic certification requires an annual review of the application and an inspection of the business’ operations each year as well.
How to Stay Consistent
A common issue with making huge lifestyle changes like going organic or becoming vegan is remaining consistent.
When it comes to food, keeping yourself interested with new recipes and trying different ingredients is a great way to stay committed and engaged with the organic lifestyle.
Taking it slowly and making gradual changes will lead to far better long-term results when compared to someone who drastically transforms their life overnight.
When the changes are more manageable and gradual, you’ll find they take a lot less motivation to stick to, and this includes eating habits and the organic products you choose at the store.
The key to living organically is understanding that it’s never going to be perfect. Unless someone moved out into the woods and lived entirely off the land for the rest of their lives, there’s no way you can be 100% organic.
Doing the best you can is good enough and will still make a hugely positive impact on the planet and your health.
Small Steps to Go Organic
Going organic is an impressive feat and a way of living that’s loaded with benefits, but it’s not an easy one.
While great rewards are waiting on the other side, making changes gradually and being patient is the best approach to transitioning to an organic lifestyle, but it’s well worth the effort.
Organic foods have become more popular than ever, and they’re tied in with a healthier lifestyle that’s founded on consuming natural goods.
If you have more questions about the types of products associated with living an organic lifestyle, read on for a few FAQs that can help.
Does Organic Food Mean Family Farms?
Organic food is often grown by smaller farms or family-owned farms, however, it doesn’t automatically mean that it is.
To determine whether the product you’re buying has come from a family-owned farm, you should read the packaging or brand website to get some insight into their processes.
Do Organic Foods Have Preservatives?
Organic foods are grown and processed without preservatives, as these are usually made from synthetic chemicals.
There are some downsides to purchasing food without preservatives, especially if you’re used to doing so, but the major upside is knowing that you’re eating food without synthetic chemicals.
What Country Has the Most Organic Food?
Studies conducted in 2016 into the countries with the highest consumption of organic food per capita show that Switzerland, Denmark, and Sweden are at the top of the list.
Switzerland was the highest with an organic grocery revenue per capita of $337 compared to the US which was around $146 per capita.
Lorraine Pinnix is a passionate nutritionist and loves seeing people living healthy, and fulfilled lives. She believes that food is an essential piece of staying fit and strongly believes in going vegan. PureGrowthOrganic is a passionate work that details her research in helping you go on complete organic diets. She is available for questions, comments, and follow-ups.