Sunday, March 18, 2012

To Be {Organic} or Not to Be?

The simple (yet complicated) answer to this question is absolutely, positively, without a doubt…


When it comes to eating and buying real, whole foods, organic is the best way to go.  I have to admit that I wasn’t always on board with the idea of eating organically.  I thought that organic just meant spending more money.  Since that time, the research that I’ve done has proved otherwise and I am now a big advocate for going organic all the way. 

But I’m a practical girl and I know that many of us (including myself) are not in a position to run out and purchase organic foods to feed our families 100% of the time.  Heck, maybe not even 50% of the time.  I know I can’t.  Not only is organic food expensive much of the time, it can also be hard to find.  If you’ve been on the lookout for less expensive organics or you are just having a hard time finding organics in general, the resources listed here might be of interest to you. 

First, though, let’s talk a little bit about why we should be eating organically as opposed to conventionally. 

Organic food, particularly produce, has much more nutrition than that of conventionally grown produce.  There are no pesticides used or GMO’s** (see next section) in organic foods.  If you are able to buy organic foods from local farmers all the better.  (Note that some farmers still use pesticides when necessary.)  That way you know that the produce is fresh and hasn’t been sitting in a truck and in a back room for weeks before being set out for us to purchase in the supermarket.  Farmer’s Markets are awesome for this!  You can usually get quite a bit of food for very little money at Farmer’s Markets and it was all recently picked.   

Another reason to eat organically is to ensure that the foods you are buying aren’t genetically modified.  Here’s a great article on genetically modified organisms and why you should stay away from them.  It really just gets my blood boiling!

When choosing which produce to buy organically, a good rule of thumb is that if it’s something that you eat the skin of (apples, pears, grapes, strawberries, peaches, lettuce, etc.) buy organic.  If you don’t eat the skin (oranges, bananas, avocados, and the like) then it’s probably ok to buy it conventionally.  Most of the time, the pesticides that are sprayed gather in the skin of the fruit as it grows.  Apples are the worst for holding onto pesticide residue.  I try at all costs to buy apples organically.  It doesn’t always happen but I try.

It took a long time for me to feel like I could justify the cost of organic foods even to a small degree.  Things have always been tight around here and we just don’t have the means to buy apples or grapes at twice the price of their conventional counterparts.  That seems to be the cost difference in regular grocery stores.  And then I discovered Sunflower Market about a year ago.  AWESOME store!  It’s small but they carry far better produce than just about any other grocery store I know of.  And they carry such a wide variety, too.  And you just can’t beat the prices when they put their organic produce on sale. 

Even when they’re not on sale, it’s usually not much more than what you would pay for the conventional.  They’ve got quite a bit of bulk items as well.  Maybe not quite as many as WinCo (which is another great source for inexpensive produce, grains, spices, etc.) but I prefer Sunflower to WinCo.  Both stores carry much more than just produce.  (Whole Foods is another option but I have not been all that impressed with their prices or their produce in general.)  

Keep in mind, not all of the produce I buy is organic. 

One thing that we ALWAYS buy organically is eggs (Costco is the cheapest).  And while it’s not exactly ‘organic’, we try to buy hormone free milk.  Sometimes our budget doesn’t allow for it and we are forced to buy whatever milk is on sale and you know what?  That’s ok.  We’re feeding our kids and ourselves the best we are able.  I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to be able to buy raw milk, however, it is extremely hard to find and when you do find it, it costs an arm and a leg.

One place that might be an option for you if you’re building your supply of whole foods (organic if possible, but not necessary) is Azure Standard.  They have drop points all over the country I believe and they come to each one once a month.  They’ve got FANTASTIC prices on grains, flours, supplements and everything between.  You can go to their website and request a free catalog (I think you have to create an account – also free).  You’ll love the prices and the selection.  They’ve got EVERYTHING!  And if I remember right, shipping is free if you order $50 or more.  Don’t quote me on that one.  But really, it’s very easy to do!

And now for a slight change in subject… MEATS!

Since starting on our clean food/whole food/real food journey, we’ve eaten less and less meat.  I used to be completely at a loss when it came to preparing a meal without meat.  My dinners growing up centered around meat whether it be chicken, a roast, ground beef, steak, turkey, etc.  Now we try to make some kind of vegetable the main course while everything else takes a side dish spot.  Sometimes it includes meat and sometimes not. 

After watching Food, Inc. Anthony and I have a hard time sometimes with the meat that is already in our freezer.  To see the way that the animals were treated before slaughter and the way they bring them up and feed them is all wrong.  It’s sickening, actually. 

Don’t get me wrong, we still eat meat and are far from vegetarian but we are much choosier about how often we eat it and how much of it we eat. 

Speaking of meat.  Ever seen Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution?  I love that show!  He’s all about getting school cafeterias and fast food chains to change their menus to include real, healthy meals with whole foods.  On the show last season he talked about ‘Pink Slime’ in one episode.  It is absolutely stomach turning and to think that the FDA has approved this.  It’s revolting, really!  Here’s the clip…

My aunt told me just yesterday that after watching this clip she went straight to her freezer and threw out all of her ground beef.  She just couldn’t stomach it. 

So, if after watching this clip and possibly seeing Food, Inc. (you can find it on Netflix), you are ready for organic meats, they are out there.  They can be pretty pricey and I have to admit that I’m not that rich yet but when I am, you can bet that I’ll be buying my meat from HERE!  Someday I’ll be rich enough… I’m determined!

Here are some great clean food recipe sites that I love:

The Gracious Pantry

The Naked Kitchen

Natural Moms Recipes

Whole Foods Recipes

Word of Wisdom Living

Perry’s Plate




Cari said...

I LOVE sunflower market! They do have the best prices on produce and are always running great specials, and I love their selection of dried fruits, nuts and puffed whole grains (perfect for kid snacks).

I also love Jamie Oliver- he's awesome.

Tiffany said...

I've just recently been buying organic foods-our grocery bill has SKY ROCKETED-but I think it will pay off when my kids are older! Thanks for sharing this video. :) I am now going to have to go watch some more of these episodes on you tube, if I can find them. ;)

Brooke said...

It's crazy how much they charge for organic foods. I keep hearing that more we buy it though, the less expensive it will eventually become. Crossing my fingers that it is true. I hope you were able to find some videos. Jamie Oliver is awesome!