One person who helped educate Julia is friend and green guru Sophie Uliano, author of Gorgeously Green . Everyone can become environmentally conscious just by taking small steps, Sophie says. "For me, green isn't extreme," she says. "There's shades of green. … You pick your shade."
Sophie says you can take your first step in the grocery store by purchasing organic foods. "Organic means that it's grown without the use of herbicides, pesticides. It's not genetically modified; it's not irradiated," Sophie says. "Organic farming protects the planet, so it's a win-win. It's healthier for us, and it's healthier for the planet."
Families with young children consume a lot of baby food, so Sophie suggests starting there. "I am recommending organic baby food because babies are much more vulnerable to the effects of pesticides, and there's a lot of pesticide residue on all food," Sophie says.
Julia says she feeds her youngest son, Henry, organic baby food. "I make some of my own, I'm happy to say ," she says. "He's doing great."
"Some farmers use growth hormones and antibiotics, and this can affect human health," she says. Organic dairy products mean the cows are fed a specific diet.
Sophie says the organic labels on dairy products aren't just a marketing ploy. "It's very hard to become certified as an [organic] farmer."
Many grocery stores now offer a variety of organic rice options, as shown above.
"They have found tremendous amounts of organophosphate pesticides in processed foods like corn chips and popcorn, things that our kids eat a lot of," Sophie says. "So, again, if you can go organic with that, great idea."
Look for organic raisins, potatoes, green beans, cucumbers and strawberries. Can't find them organically? Make your own veggie spray with grapefruit seed extract—found at your local health food store—to help wash away any chemicals that could be on your fruit. Rinsing simply isn't enough. "All you do is spray it on the vegetables, leave it for 5 or 10 minutes and rinse them off, and you've got rid of a lot of pesticide residue," Sophie says.
Make Sophie's veggie spray.
If you want to make a change but can't find what you need at your local store, speak up! "We as women, we are powerful. We have a voice," Sophie says. "Go to the manager and say to him, 'I want to see more organic here.'"