Opt for organic: You might be surprised what you find

Jordan PuyearBy Jordan Puyear | gargoyle@flagler.edu

Ah, the good ole days. As a kid, you would be elated, if not shocked, to find a special surprise inside your lunch box. Whether it was a Lunchables, Fruit Roll Up, or, if you were really lucky, Gushers!

As people get older, most of us stick to our old ways of purchasing the yummy deliciousness that high fructose corn syrup and yellow dye number three has to offer. On the other hand, some — not a lot — of us college kids look beyond those aisles in the supermarket and choose items that try to break the stereotype of a college student diet consisting of Ramen noodles.

I am talking about organic food, or as our grandparents called it, “food.”

We college kids don’t want to worry about spending more money on an organic apple that looks just the same as a non-organic apple sitting next to it. “Regular food tastes a lot better, but if it tastes good, it’s probably not good for you,” freshman Rocio Chico said. One of the biggest issues among people’s eating habits is that most don’t know what’s really in their “good tasting” food. The “freshman 15” had to start somewhere.

In a nutshell, “’organically grown’ food is grown and processed using no synthetic fertilizers or pesticides,” according to the Environmental Protection Agency. All that means is that if your food is not organically grown or organically made, then your food is not natural. Now that everybody knows this, why doesn’t everybody just buy organic food?

The blunt answer is that it’s everybody’s choice. Some people are fine with buying their usual groceries, and none of this information would make a difference in their grocery shopping habits.

But just because something’s organic does not mean it’s expensive or hard to find. If you really want locally grown, fresh produce, go to St. Augustine’s Farmers Market every Saturday. Not only can you buy fresh items, but you can also ask the vendors where they got their produce from, who grew it, and what they specialize in? Another St. Augustine specific grocer is Diane’s Natural Market and Café, which is just around 10 minutes away from the Ponce de Leon Hotel. Diane’s provides “vitamins, supplements, natural and organic groceries, full produce selection, herbs, teas, coffees, juice bar and more.”

If you are like me, and just don’t want to put the time or energy into going to these vendors, don’t worry. There are plenty of options in your average, everyday grocery store for those organic cravings. Publix has specific locations in each aisle for all natural and organic products, including their name brand organic items, Greenwise. Talking about specific location for these “health” foods, Target does a similar design and location as Publix does for their unique options of organic food, except their name brand organic food is called Simply Balanced. Publix and Target aim to providing the customer with a product that has both good quality and great prices, that goes for organic food as well. Both brands carry food that you would usually buy everyday, just with a lot less ingredients. Greenwise and Simply Balanced have items ranging from USDA certified organic eggs to organic crunchy peanut butter.

The store that has yet to jump on the clean eating bandwagon is Walmart. Even though Walmart carries a handful of organic or all-natural items, it is still not up to par with Publix or Target, at least not yet. Even Ikea now holds a line of organic foods in their small, but quaint, grocery section. Ikea carries organic orange and elderflower marmalade, organic lingonberry flavored apple wine vinegar, and even organic whole meal elke shaped pasta. Oh Ikea … the crazy things you do.

If you really want to go above and beyond for specific “health foods,” there are stores out there that cater to your needs. Obviously, there is the ever-so popular Whole Foods. Most people complain that when you shop at Whole Foods, you spend a whole lot of money on rare and specific items, such as non-genetically modified organism (GMO) meatless chicken fingers, or chocolate covered kale chips.

If you do prefer these grocery items then Whole Foods is your place to go. Just be prepared to spend a little bit more money. Another specific health foods store that is all the rage, and my personal favorite, is Trader Joe’s. They consider themselves a “value” health food store. “Our products have no artificial colors, or flavors, and no preservatives,” claims Trader Joe’s. Items there are extremely college-friendly because of their cheap price and wide array of snacks and frozen meals. Because Trader Joes buys directly from their suppliers, they save a lot of money. They’re also the people that make the glorious product that is cookie butter!

I know being in college and trying to eat healthy is difficult, but it is possible. The hardest part about the whole concept is that you have so many deterrents and temptations to go against your healthy instincts. For Freshman Julia Ward, she was able to find a balance between the quintessential college food, and her healthy eating ways. “For lunch, I try to eat a salad and then for dinner, I make sure to have a veggie, grain, protein, and to treat myself, I’ll grab a treat,” Ward said. Ward realized that even though Flamin’ Hot Cheetos and Velvetta Mac n’ Cheese were cheap and easily accessible, she knows that does not have to be her first option. “I don’t snack in my dorm, and if I do, I eat Glutino bars which have fiber and protein to tie me over until the next meal,” she said.

So you don’t have to be the stereotypical college kid stuck on nothing by Ramen. You can eat good food that makes you feel your age, and actually tastes surprisingly good at the same time.

Jordan Puyear“Organic is a healthy option and makes you feel so much more energized than when eating non-organic,” Ward said.

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