Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Integrating Organics

Studies show that people are increasingly interested in an organic diet. It seems that people everywhere are waking up to the fact that what we put in or on our food is eventually going to end up in our bodies and may be potentially harmful!
Our family thought for years that it would be too much work or too expensive to eat organically and so we dismissed the thought pretty quickly. However, after witnessing several young men and women battle cancers such as colon cancer, Jason and I became concerned! We talked alot about the common factor of diet that people share. In the name of convenience, people are eating more and more processed or "fast foods" and more and more we are hearing reports of cancer and other diseases that used to only be a concern for those in their older years.
We decided we needed to make changes and that cost was not going to be the issue! But the question was, "where do we start?"
Real quick, I'll share with you the changes we made and what we found out about cost and convenience.
* Organic Meat - Initially I thought this would be an area I just could not switch over in. Organic meat, I thought, was outrageously priced. However, a friend recommended a meat market in Winder called "Bentleys" and after visiting there, purchasing meat and loving it's flavor and texture, we were surprised to find that we were not spending that much more. (I have written an earlier post on our first trip there that you can read for all of the details and pricing.) Yes, it was a trip to Winder that we weren't used to making, but we found it an enjoyable drive and we always enjoy the sweet people at Bentley's. Being able to purchase quality meat in a package made it much more affordable!
* Fruits & Vegetables - I knew that it would be difficult to find the produce I needed each week in all organic, so I decided to do the best I could at the time. I researched the subject and found a study that listed fruits and veggies in order (based on testing) from those with the highest levels of pesticides to the fewest and I chose to focus on those more heavily contaminated. Here are the top ten: Peaches, Apples, Sweet Bell Peppers, Celery, Nectarines, Strawberries, Lettuce, Grapes, Carrots, and Pears. (I made a list of the top 20 and carried them in my purse.)
I try to buy as much as I can organically, but if I can't, then I try to buy it fresh at a Farmer's Market or from a friend. Sometimes I can also find frozen organic fruits at places such as Costco and that is a big help for things such as smoothies or baking. Another blessing has been a local produce store that agreed to order organic produce for a group of us if we could purchase whole crates and split it amongst ourselves. So perhaps finding some friends and approaching a produce manager is an option you may consider. It never hurts to ask, right?
The best option is when Spring comes and we grow our own tomatoes and peppers and herbs and then freeze the leftovers for using the rest of the year!
*Dairy Products - The first time I purchased a gallon of organic milk and it was over $2.50 more than regular milk, I knew for sure I was crazy! Considering that my family consumes around 5-7 gallons a week, I just cringed at the check-out. However, it was not long before my husband found a better way! He met the dairy manager at our local Kroger who informed him that if the milk was within a few days of the "sale by date" then she would be happy to mark it as a clearance item for him if she was around. So he made it his duty to stop by frequently, check the milk for reduced prices, and stock up on it every time he could. We would simply store it in our deep freezer until we needed it. That helped ALOT and brought our milk back down to regular milk prices. If we were in a pinch, we would also occasionally purchase Mayfield milk, which is hormone and RbST free. This is how we buy ice cream as well. It is not organic, but it is free of some of the things we were concerned about.
As far as cheese and yogurt products, I have bought yogurt the same way as milk - when reduced or with coupons and I purchase my cheese products from Costco because they offer bulk cheese that is also free from hormone, antibiotics, or RbST, though not organic.
*Canned Foods, Cereals, etc... - For these items I purchase things on sale at Kroger or Ingles or I buy in bulk at Costco. Our family has been buying in bulk for years, but we were members of Sam's Club. There were some items I could buy organically there (spinach and carrots are two) but not a whole lot! However, a friend recommended Costco and while it is a drive to get there, I am usually in that area at least twice a month, so I just fit that in. The first time I went there I was overjoyed at the amount of organic items they carry and the price! If you are able to buy in bulk and want to eat organically, I highly encourage you to check it out!

While this is certainly not an exhaustive list of the changes we made, I hope that perhaps this will help someone else make the change to organic eating. It is healthier for your family, the environment, and the people who handle your food. Not to mention the great feeling you have when you sit down to a meal with those you love and you know that what you are eating is good for you. It really does make it worth all of the effort!

1 comment:

Lynn said...

Excellent information!! Thanks for doing the homework on this topic and sharing what you've learned. It actually makes eating organic seem "doable".