Sunday, March 7, 2010

Organic or Bust...Your Budget That Is

I want to be able to provide honestly good and healthy meals for my family.  It is a quest I am on.  I know a lot more than I used to.  For better...or for worse, I am a LOT more educated than I used to be about what is actually good for us and what "they" want us to believe is good for us.  But, the problem with having this new knowledge is that now you can't continue to do things the way you were doing them before.  That "box of stuff" that used to be a major staple in your pantry--that you used to plop down in front of your family without any trepidation whatsoever--you now know is not fit to be fed to the poor dog.

So, if your are like me, you start to learn how to cook more meals from scratch.  You learn how to make your own bread.  You buy more fruits and vegetables...and you learn new ways of baiting your child into eating some of them.  You start to feel good about yourself.  Confident even.  It's kind of a primal thing to be able to feed your family from the work of your own hands.  I am WOMAN.  Hear ME roar...kind of feeling.

And then...

Isn't there always an "and then"? 

You keep reading, keep educating yourself and one day you find out that all those fruits and veggies in the supermarket might not be as healthy as you thought they were.  All those pesticides and poisons--not to mention that the blimey soil the stuff was grown in probably had no nutrients to pass along in the first place due to being so depleted of life by our wonderful corporate farming techniques.  You find out that the flour and sugar you have been baking with has been bleached and processed beyond recognition and the vegetable oil in the cupboard is actually some sort of  evil homogenated substance that no one should be consuming--let alone the people you love.

Then you learn the word "Organic" and you are instantly transfixed and enthralled.  You find your way to a new or at least new to you store that sells only organic or naturally grown food.  You feel like a kid in a candy store.  And then...

There it is again.

And then, you turn that bag of organically and locally grown spelt flour over and spy the price tag.  The needle scrapes the record, the music stops, you feel a trickle of cold sweat drip down your back.  Holy SHIT!!  Two pounds of flour is gonna cost you $15 bucks!!!????  Two pounds is not a whole hell of a lot of flour folks.  Just in case you were wondering.

That budget you have been trying to stay within just popped like an over-inflated balloon and flew out the window.  If you were having trouble feeding your family before "this health kick" (as some people might call it) how the hell are you going to make ends meet now? 

Now, I do want to say that I really do believe that locally grown, organic food is more precious than gold.  It is worth every penny that is asked for it (well, unless you are shopping at some yuppie gimmicky store that takes pride in gouging it's customers--I choose not to shop at these types of establishments, thank you very much!)  I know that these small family farmers work hard to produce food of the highest quality and I also know that it is extremely expensive in order to be certified "organic".  I am not saying that their food and products are not worth the price--I am only lamenting the fact that I am not independently wealthy enough to be able to afford to buy all of them.

It can be rough.  I ain't gonna lie.  You definitely have to set priorities.  Do I buy all organic and locally grown food these days?  Honestly, no.  I do what I can.  I try to support the local organic store as much as I am able.  My son loves bacon so I have made organic bacon one of my priorities.  I cook more organic brown rice instead of white flour pastas.  I buy organic whole wheat flour--but not necessarily the local grown stuff.  I make daily decisions a little bit at a time to change the way my family eats.  It's not an all in thing.  But, it gets closer and closer.  Is it frustrating sometimes?  Oh ya.  As Calamity Jane says over at her wonderful blog, Apron Strings, buying organic ice cream is not really what it's all about.

Any thoughts...please share.


  1. I couldn't agree with you more - eating more fresh, organically grown food is of the utmost imperative but *affording* to do so is a whole other situation all together and it's frustrating and discouraging.

    I really commend you for your efforts. I know so many people who don't even try for whatever reason and every little bit helps!

    I'm not entirely sure what kind of area you live in - but don't hesitate to look around see if you can't make contact with any local farmers yourself and buy directly from the source. Especially if you have any "Plain Clothes" Quakers or Amish in the area. Cut out the middle man - the food is fresh and you can feel good about it.

    Don't forget that in a pinch that any food certified as Kosher prepared is also going to be handled humanely.

    If you have any food co-ops in the area, you can sign up for a membership and often get discounts on good, healthy food. Sometimes they even let you donate your time to work in there in exchange for discounts on food.

    Another survival tactic is also to buy produce that is in season where you can because it's going to be less expensive that way.

    You go girl! This was a great post. =)

  2. ~so true everything you is frustrating trying to provide a healthy lifestyle yet remaining in balance with your budget...i too agree that farmers do deserve to be paid fair for their hard work yet i often wonder if they made the price more marketable wouldn't they reap more of the rewards as more people would be susceptible to buying and in turn their sales would go up...i do not know what the right answer is...we do shop market when in season...grow in our garden and always trying to think outside the box...we all want whats best for our families...sometimes i just wish it was a bit easier...and its nice to see your face!! wonderful thought provoking post this morning...brightest blessings~

  3. I've been on the organic band wagon for awhile now. But lack of support from the "bread winner" in the family limits what I can do. No matter how I've expressed the importance of it, I get no where. So I switched tactics a bit and showed him a couple of print outs on the dangers of GMO foods...he said I was scaring him, my answer was "GOOD! You should be scared!".

    But the struggle to be more organic is still going to be there. The local supermarkets care small sections of organic goods, meats and produce but at really high prices. To get him to go to the farmer's market is next to impossible. All he does is talk about cost. But if we don't shop around to see what is available to support our local farmers we won't know what's out available.

    In the summer I try to grow what I can in my small garden...usually tomato, lettuce, cukes, zucchini, peppers, yellow squash, and herbs. Unwittingly by using miracle-gro over the last few years we have depleted the nutrients in the I have to find a way to fix that.

    I don't know what the answer is but there has to be one where we can achieve our goal of eating healthy and organic, support our local farmers, without going broke in the process. As Lyon said, a food co-op is one option. I know there's a couple near me. One at an herb shop so former acquaintances own they do a monthly one and offer 3 different size boxes the least expensive is like $35. It's definitely worth looking into I think.

    All we can do is make one small change at a time. Though it is easier when you have the support of the whole family instead of being the sole renegade lol.

  4. Read your post with much interest...We've been doing 'organic' as much as possible for some son's family is better at it than we are (she cooks everything from scratch; even grinds their own flour) and my daughter's family is trying now also, but money is difficult...There is a farmer's co-op here, but haven't been able to join yet...I think that is really the way to go because it's all local and you get whatever is in season at the time... unfortunately, my husband has a difficult time if it doesn't come from the store...he was raised differently...

    Good luck with your is said if you can only do certain things organic, go for milk and vegetables...

  5. I do not understand why something that is suppose to be so much better for us has to be so much more expensive. I have come to the conclusion that a homegrown garden is the best route if you are able to do so... Although I know there are many who can't. I have always been one that prefers cooking from scratch whenever possible. I do not like the perservatives that are used in so much of the packaged items. It is something that can be totally overwhelming if you were to really take a close look at it...

  6. I hear ya. We've gone through the same things since we switched Parker to GF/CF diet. We try to buy as much organic food as possible (because he doesn't detox well), but we honestly can't afford it at all.

    Nevertheless, we do our best.


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