Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Our Foray into the World of Organics

A couple years ago, I scoffed at the whole organic thing. It's expensive and ridiculous when there is perfectly good food for much cheaper available.

Then I started reading up a little bit (in the hunt of losing weight). And I came to learn exactly what happened to my food before it got to my table. It disturbed me (I won't go into detail, but if you want to know what happens to the food before it gets to your table, read "In Defense of Food" and "The Omnivore's Dilemma" by Michael Pollan. Interested in what those foods do to your body? Read "Master Your Metabolism" by Jillian Michaels.)

Despite my feelings, our budget was still tight and this was pre-coupons for me. I couldn't afford organic.

Then I started couponing. And every time I saw the "coupons are for junk only" argument (it happens a lot) I'd see the counter argument "Because I coupon, I can afford the organic stuff."

I still didn't switch right away (obviously) but after rereading "Master Your Metabolism" for myself, hearing directly from the USDA that many of the "regular" produce and meat is not recommended for pregnant women or small children due to the amount of pesticides (yeah, the government itself admits these may not be the best choice) and having Dave tell me he has no energy and needs a change, I went for it today.

I will first admit that not everything I bought today was organic. I did buy many things organic and stayed away from as much of the harmful stuff as I could. So what did I learn?

1. You don't actually have to buy every single food organic, including produce, but you need to be VERY selective. Every year a list of the best and worst foods for pesticides are released, also called The Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen. If it's on the Dirty Dozen, buy organic every single time! If it's on the Clean Fifteen, if money's an issue you can get them non-organic just wash well.

2. Meat is a condiment when it's organic. Normally I'd buy a couple pounds of ground beef, but at $6 lb., I bought one and split it into a half lb. each. I'll substitute with veggies or beans when possible for our meals this week.

3. Organic coupons do exist and can bring organics into reasonable prices. I bought both organic yogurt and bread today with coupons for prices I consider reasonable ($2 for a 32 oz of yogurt and $1.99 for a loaf of bread)

4. Generic organic is fine too! I didn't know what to expect when it came to milk, figuring I'd pay $3.50 for a half gallon if I was lucky. Our local health food store has a gallon of organic milk for $3.50! It was the house brand and it had the "Real California Milk" symbol on it, so I could use a coupon!

5. Health food stores are your friend, so are farmer's markets. Yesterday we stopped at the farm stand down the street from Beautiful G's school. While not certified organic, all the food comes from small local farms and is treated organically. This place had the most amazing oranges I have ever eaten. I once read a story describing an orange and called it a burst of sunshine in your mouth. This orange tasted just like the story. And it didn't cost me any more than if I had bought the grocery store oranges.

While I'm not going to get on a soapbox that everyone should change (because, really, who can find a soapbox anymore?) I am glad we switched. I learned a lot this week and I am sure I will keep it up. If for no other reason than because every organic thing I've put in my mouth in the last 24 hours (including oranges, spinach, strawberries and carrots) have tasted about a dozen times better than I remember.


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