Saturday, April 21, 2012

Going organic

I often get asked about eating organic.  I try really hard to only buy organic and encourage everyone else to do the same.  People tell me all the time that they would love to eat organic, but they can't afford it.  I totally get that, I really do.  One way that I offset my high grocery cost is by not eating out.  It amazes me what the average family spends weekly on eating out.  Personally, I feel eating out is a huge contributor to the financial problems that a lot of families are dealing with because it is so expensive.  I highly encourage you to cut back on dining out.  Two ways to do that is to MENU PLAN and STOCK YOUR FREEZER !  And, lucky for you, I am currently working on some tools and resources that I am going to roll out in the next month to help you do those things.  So, be prepared....exciting things are coming soon!

But, for now, back to buying organic....

I understand not everyone can afford to go organic (and if you are one of those people that say you can't afford organic, I better not catch you buying a $4 coffee or a $2 soda from the drive-through).  The good news is, you don't have to go completely organic.  I recommend everyone buy organic animal products (meat, fish, dairy, eggs, etc).  After that, if you still have room in your budget, buy organic produce.  Why?  For some reason, artificial hormones in my food freak me out more than pesticides and insecticides.

We buy organic, grass-fed beef.  One way to save on beef costs, is to find someone local that sells whole cows.  Find friends and family and all go in together to buy the meat, and then split the costs (and the meat, obviously!)  We don't eat a lot of beef, so this is a very small part of my grocery budget.

We do, however, eat a lot of chicken.  Organic chicken breasts where I live is $10.99/lb.  It costs me $20 per meal to feed my family of 5, if I cook with organic chicken breasts.  A whole organic chicken costs $15.  I can cook a whole chicken and get 2-3 meals out of it, plus make chicken stock for soups/stews.  It is a HUGE cost-saver for me, and in the long run, saves me time because I always have precooked shredded chicken in my fridge.

We eat about 3 dozen eggs a week, so I feel really strongly that my family needs to eat organic eggs.  Eggs are tricky....there's organic, free-range, omega-3, cage-free, vegetarian, and pasteurized.  I have honestly lost years of my life standing in front of the egg cooler, trying to decide which eggs to buy!  And I still don't know the answer!  I always buy organic and then I switch between organic free-range or organic omega-3.  Our family all takes an omega-3 supplement, but we don't eat a lot of seafood (much to my dismay!), so I like to sneak in the omega-3 when I can.

Produce is tricky, because you really don't have to buy everything organic.  There is a list called the dirty dozen, clean fifteen that is a guide to buying organic produce.  I have my own little trusty guide that I keep in my wallet so I can reference it while shopping.   If anyone is interested in my list, please leave a comment or email me.  I am happy to send you a copy of it, as long as you promise to laminate it and keep it in your wallet right next to the pictures of your minis.  I'll copy and paste it below as well.  If you do buy non-organic produce, please make sure to wash it very well.

Heids McGhee’s
Guide to Organic
Must Buy Organic
Peanut Butter

Safe to Buy

Sweet Corn
Sweet Peas
Sweet Potato

And that's my simple summary of buying organic.  I am way excited right now because Mr. McGhee has finished my raised garden beds.  I am so looking forward to my own little organic backyard farm.  If you have any local farmers, please support them!  I buy local before I buy organic!  Talk to your local farmers, many of them are organic, even if they don't have the government's official seal of organic.  I know it costs thousands of dollars to go through the government's process, and a lot of farmers don't have the resources (or the interest) in having our government's stamp of approval.  They know what they're doing is organic and they're happy to tell and show you!  

Aren't they lovely?  I can't wait to get things planted.  Of course, then I will have to stop telling my minis that those are coffins in which I am planning on using to bury them alive.  So, I guess I will be slightly disappointed when that fun ends.