on organics

I freely admit pricing on organic produce often gives me sticker shock…”regular” blueberries are $2.99/ pint, organic are $4.99!  That’s almost twice the price!  These are my thoughts on going organic and how I manage to be as organic as possible while still keeping to my budget…

  1. The other blueberries aren’t “regular.”  They’ve been treated with chemicals that kill other living organisms.  It doesn’t feel like a stretch to wonder if that might also impact our health.
  2. Organic farming delivers more nutrient-rich produce.  That’s the reason we’re eating fruits and vegetables, right?  For the nutrients.
  3. I remember 9 months of pregnancy followed by 8 hours of unmedicated labor pain (that was crazy!).  I want to treat my little treasure with as much care as possible because making her was hard work!
  4. My own body is extraordinary.  Perhaps not exactly the shape I’d like, but it MAKES HUMANS!  I want to treat it with as much care and respect as I can (I am whispering, “I promise never to eat chips again, I promise never to eat chips again, I promise….”).
  5. Conventional pesticides are TERRIBLE for the environment, both flora and fauna.  I’m still planning on a beautiful planet for my grandchildren, who should be along in about 40 years.  They also require fossil fuels to produce.
  6. Organic also means no synthetic growth hormones, which are causing our daughters to have their periods as early as 8 year old!
  7. Also, no antibiotics or genetically modified fruit.  The former is causing new untreatable disease strains to develop, the latter is wreaking havoc on our ecosystem.

Now I feel like i need to eat a bowl of granola and listen to The Indigo Girls.  Seriously, if you want more info, there is a ton of scientific evidence.  Organic Valley has a nice summary page here.

Here’s how I manage buying as organic as possible while being on a budget:

  1. The difference between those blueberry prices may be nearly 50%, but it’s still only $2.  That’s one fifth of a cocktail at my local watering hole or 10 minutes of the movie I just went to see at the theater (Well, the movie YOU just went to see.  I haven’t been to the movies since Willa was born.).  So I have one less cocktail a week and my basket can be organic.
  2. I buy what’s on sale.  If organic apples are on sale, apples are the primary fruit for the week.  If organic chard is on sale, I adjust my weekly menu to take advantage of that.  I buy a LOT on sale and I try to “put some away,” by making jams, fruit butters, pie filling, applesauce, etc.  This is also true with vegetables.  Another benefit – it gets you to try things that may not make it onto your shipping list very often.
  3. I buy frozen.  Shocking, I know, but the prices are often lower, and it gives you great flexibility.  You don’t have to worry about cooking it all before it goes bad, and you always know you have fruit and veggies on hand in the freezer.  If I don’t need fresh for what I’m doing (making cherry oatmeal bars for example), I buy frozen.  Frozen kale is something I use almost every day in Willa’s food.  It’s a great way to get an extra boost of nutrition in her meals with relatively little additional effort.
  4. I focus on “The Dirty Dozen.”  The Environmental Working Group has published a list of the 12 produce items that “contained a number of different pesticide residues and showed high concentrations of pesticides relative to other produce items.”  For these I ONLY buy organic.  The list is:  apples, strawberries, grapes, celery, peaches, spinach, sweet bell peppers, imported nectarines, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, imported snap peas and potatoes.  I include also leafy greens, plums, apricots and nectarines on my list.
  5. I don’t feel guilty buying non-organic on “The Clean Fifteen,” which are (obviously) the 15 items with the least pesticide residue.  They are avocados, sweet corn, pineapples, cabbage, frozen sweet peas, onions, asparagus, mangoes, papayas, kiwis, eggplant, grapefruit, cantaloupe, cauliflower and sweet potatoes.

I hope this helps!  I would love to hear your thoughts on organics and how you budget for them (or don’t)!