Friday, January 28, 2011

BQOTD: Buying Organics

BQOTD: Do you make an effort to buy organic? Are there any foods you're a stickler about buying organic?

Yesterday, I was reading Jillian Michaels' book Master Your Metabolism. It has some really interesting information about hormones affecting metabolism, but it also talks extensively about buying only organic everything.

image credit (originally from MyPaperCrane)

Personally, I don't buy much of anything organic. I'd probably like to buy the items on the "dirty dozen" list organic, but it is just so much more expensive. I know, I've heard the arguments that you're really saving money in the long run. And that argument works for people who have some wiggle room in their budget, but we simply don't. It's a matter of, 'Should I buy five pounds of regular oranges, or two pounds of organic oranges?' I hear Jillian's argument about hormones in pesticides and whatnot, but my understanding is that some organic vegetables are still sprayed with I'm not 100% convinced that simply buying organic solves the issue.

Another reason I hear a lot in support of buying organic is that you're supporting the "real farms" and the small farmers. But most organic farming is still done by large corporations. Unless you're buying organic from the local farmer's market, you're usually not supporting small farms just by buying organic. I tend to favor buying local and in season produce over simply "organic"--I can still buy organic tomatoes at Wal-Mart in January, and they'll still probably taste pretty bland because they're not in season, even if they are organic. 

The grocery store that we shop at is a locally owned one, and I do know that the owner tends to buy locally grown farm fresh produce whenever possible. He's also pretty good about highlighting fruits and vegetables that are currently in season in the middle of the produce section. But, in the summer, most of our produce comes from our garden anyway. And it always, always tastes better than anything I buy at the store (farmer's markets excluded).

One area that I'd like to start buying more closely to organic is meat and dairy. In my experience, grass fed beef just tastes better (though, not all organic beef is grass fed--and I remember reading in Time magazine that a number of taste tests have shown that in terms of taste, chefs and other consumers prefer the taste of beef that was both grass and grain fed). Justin's parents gave us 1/8 of a grass-and-grain fed cow for Christmas, and we just finished the ground beef. I used store-bought beef again recently, and it just doesn't taste as good. I try to stock up our meat from our local butcher just after the county fair, because I know he buys most of the FFA beef. It may not be 100% organic, but it's not coming out of a meat farm either.

I'm curious what you guys do--do you try to buy organic? Are you more focused on buying local produce? Does it matter to you at all?


  1. Oh, I'm with you. I'd love to buy organic but it's simply not in our budget. We grow a garden in the summer time and make an effort to buy from farmer's markets but then we're at a loss during the winter months. Once Eli switches over to whole milk, I think I'll make a conscious effort to buy organic for him though.

    And about the hormones...I have to agree. I'm convinced I went through puberty early and got my period at 9 years old because of the hormones in our meat. I think that's why so many girls find themselves going through puberty earlier and earlier.

  2. I'm with you on this completely. I do make an exception though to always buy my daughter organic milk. I read in a news article once that is one of the top five items to really make an effort stick organic with. It adds about forty cents to the grocery bill, and that's a lot more reasonable then other organic options.

  3. I don't usually buy organic. Sometimes, organic apples will be on sale for the same price as regular ones, and I'll get those, but I don't normally go out of my way to do it.

    However, I would like to get into buying more local produce and things, as I think that's in our budget, and I think it's important to support local farms. Organic meat, however, simply isn't in our budget. When Colton starts drinking milk, I plan to purchase milk from a local dairy.

    One thing I heard recently was from a farmer in NY who doesn't have the organic label. He follows all the organic guidelines but one - antibiotics. He says he couldn't let a cow die when he could give it antibiotics, and that what's most important is to see how the animals are treated.

  4. I'd like to buy it too, but it's not in our budget, so we've never done it.

  5. My husband and I are organic farmers and we only farmer 220 acres. That is a small farm compared to our neighbors who farm 1500 acres. We take pride in the organic business, it pays better but with that comes boat loads of work. I myself with a family of 3 and a farm of organic crop only buy organic milk and if things are on sale. But most of the time we just use what is produced from the farm.

  6. I didn't buy anything organic with our first daughter. After that I met a few moms and they were all buying organic (everything) and I started looking into it a little more.

    With my second one I bought milk, and eggs, and yogurt organic and I tried to buy everything that's on the dirty dozen list organic.

    And now with our third one I try to buy pretty much everything organic although I hate to see that our grocery bill pretty much is double than if we wouldn't buy organic. Now that we have 3 girls, there is ALOT of milk that is consumed within one week and it's just crazy how expensive it is.

    I always do a meal plan and do coupons and don't buy anything organic for my husband and I, so that's the only reason we can afford the organic food for the girls otherwise it would be impossible!!!

    The only thing we can't afford organic (although I know we should buy it) is meat. We are eating quiet a few meals that include meat during the week and at $8 a pound for ground beef here, it's just not doable :-( Maybe one day, when I'm back at work again and we have 2 incomes again :-)

  7. I might have to check out that book. I adore Jillian, and I'm interested to see what she has to say!

    We buy organic whenever we can, mostly our produce, but we also try to get milk, eggs, and some other organic items no matter what. If we're a little tighter on money, we don't worry about it or beat ourselves up, but we almost always make it a point to buy organic.

  8. Honestly, I buy whatever (is cheapest, generally) and do not go out of my way to search for organic anything.

  9. i went through a phase for about 6 months where i only bought organic. now, like you, i can't becuase of the cost. the prices just don't compare. people have been buying non-organic items for years, i think i'll be ok without ;)

  10. This is something that I've recently started learning about too. Like you, we are on a small budget,but I feel that food is an important expense and not somewhere that we should try to cut costs. Not that I don't look for bargains or run wild with my money because there are ways to save money while eating organically.

    With that said, it is a struggle to buy everything organic. For us, we kind of have flexible rules. Everything that we feed our son is organic. That's not something that I'm willing to bend on because his body is still developing and I worry about everything that I introduce to his system.

    For my husband and I, I've really started trying to incorporate more organics into our diet and I tend to pay a lot of attention the the Clean 15/Dirty Dozen list that you referenced (I love the crying veggies in the chart you posted, btw!).

    Last summer, we started shopping at our farmer's market and really knowing where our food was coming from and what was going into it because like you said, just because it's labeled 'organic' doesn't mean that it's great for you.

    Unfortunately, you really have to do your research and be a knowledgeable consumer. It's frustrating a lot of the time, but it's just the way the food industry is set up right now. Sad, but true. And I found that when I really started learning about the food industry I was appalled at the conventional way things are produced. It's sad that the industry isn't transparent about the things that they're putting out there for us to consume.

    Now that my son is starting to eat table food our diet is going to have to change over to more organic items. Yes, they're more expensive, but there are ways to still fit it in the budget. I find the local farmer's market to be my best resource and I can't wait until it opens back up!

  11. C and I recently totally revamped our "Food Lifestyle".

    We buy only sale items and visit as many upick farms/farmers markets as possible.

    We haven't made the plunge to buying local beef, but once we buy a garage freezer we will. For now, we buy organic meat from the store.
    Again, we watch sale ads then stock up and freeze,

    If you shop around, you can really find great deals and it wont hurt your budget.

  12. I'm not hung up on organic, but I do try to avoid additives. We buy natural, additive free meat, but it's not organic. I just don't want to pay for it. That said, i would like to switch to organic milk - it's the worst, I'm told!

  13. I usually don't wholly because of the price.

    I've also read that, if all food was grown organically using all arable land as efficiently as possible, Earth could sustain ~4 billion people. Which is 3 billion less than we have already. I do think we should limit certain practices that have negative effects on our health--the runaway use of growth hormones being one of them--but some non-organic tinkering with food is good, i think.

  14. We are clean eaters and that usually means we buy a lot of organic foods just because it isn't made or grown any other way. There are some foods we don't buy organic, but not much anymore. If we weren't clean eating, we wouldn't be buying organic foods, and foods that we can buy that come in both regular and organic we just buy regular to save a few bucks. I wish it was a lot cheaper, however it isn't. It really stinks that the most expensive foods are the healthier ones. We do not buy our meats organic, and that doesn't make me happy, but meat is so expensive.

  15. I go for organic when possible, especially for the fruits and veg that are more likely to have pesticides. It sure is little decisions every day though, it's not something that's easy to completely change overnight, nor do I think that's necessary.
    I'm a Meredith too :)

  16. We don't. It's just not in our budget. Even if it was there is no way I could get Jesse to agree to it. In the summertime we do go to the farmers market and get our produce from there. We are hoping to get a few things of our own in the ground this year, but in ND it is hard because it has been known to snow in JULY (!!!!!!!) here and I would be so pissed if I planted a bunch in June, and it all died in July from snow ;)

    When we move back home, I do want to look into buying a beef each year with someone. My parents buy a a grass fed, organic beef every year and the meat has a totally different taste. It is so much better. I could go on and on about why it's so much better, but it just is, and I really want to look into it when we are back!

    Side-note: Next time we are home, ask Jesse about my "organic-beef-rant" that I had just outside of Bakersfield CA after 20+ hours in the car ;)

  17. My main concern is animal products, so meat milk and eggs are always organic at our house and are almost always local. We buy from a few different farms around here.

    I buy local produce as often as possible (which usually means organic as well), but that's harder in the winter.

    Generally, I'm more concerned with local than I am organic - if I know the farmer and know where my food came from, I'm a happy camper.

  18. We follow the Eat Clean diet so the majority of what we eat is organic. We have cut back on other things to be able to afford to buy organic. It's something that's important to us.

  19. I do buy mostly organic, though I'm not perfect with produce. But meat and dairy I'm picky about. Even if it's not organic, I only buy grass/veggie-fed, no-hormone meat. It helps with weight loss and makes me feel better especially pregnant.

  20. We like to buy organic where practical but it depends on the source. In other words, the label itself doesn't tell you much about flavor/texture/quality. We make a bigger effort for the "dirty dozen" and milk/butter.

    As for grass-fed vs. grass- and grain-fed beef, it's important to note that ALL beef is grass-fed. The question is whether grains of any sort are added to the diet at any point in time, typically the "finishing" (fattening) stage. In other words, your grocery store's ground beef will have been grass- and grain-fed. The key is to find farm-specific beef, whether grass-only or grass- plus grain-fed, and note the breed, the specific diet and husbandry practices, and how the beef was aged.

    It sounds as if you like the beef from the farm from which your folks sourced the 1/8 share. If that's the case, I say restock the freezer when you're out! If not, try a new farm and see what you like best.


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