If you haven't jumped on the "organic bandwagon", you are probably thinking all of us who have, are a little crazy. Well, I totally understand. I used to be one of those who thought the Organic label was just another way for companies to make an extra buck. Maybe more like, a lot of bucks, because organic stuff is EXPENSIVE! But here's the deal, after I started my own garden last year and learned the details of how to grow a plant from fertilizer to seed to germination to fruit and veggies, I quickly changed my mind. Have you ever read the backs of the bottles of regular garden pesticides? Do you realize how hard it is to wash that stuff off? And even if you wash it really, really good, it's still in the roots and still inside the fruit or vegetable. There are so many statistic out there concerning human consumption of herbicides and pesticides and I have the hardest time knowing that, and then putting it on the table for my family of 6 to eat. And let's not even go into all of the hormones and steroids they feed animals that we eat. Yes, it is more expensive, and if you do an organic garden like me, it takes a lot more time and research, but it is so, so worth it.
Here's some things we do different to offset the cost of buying organic.
- Eat less meat per meal. I make a lot of soup, casseroles and stir-frys. There is no huge hamburger patty (unless it's a bean burger) or giant chicken breast on our plates at dinner. It's not cost effective and it's just too much meat! I can feed our family of 6 a super awesome meal using 2 organic chicken breasts or 1/2 to 3/4 lb organic ground beef.
- Shop your local Farmer's Market. Not all things at a Farmer's Markets are organic, homegrown or even cheap but if you keep looking, I bet you will find one that suits your family's needs. Also, buying fruits and veggies that are in season can be much more cost effective.
- Grow a garden. Even if it's just an herb garden or a container garden. I've seen some really successful container gardens done by people who have little to no yard.
- Find a person who sells their own farm eggs. Eggs are very nutritious. And if you have connections, they are cheaper than buying at the store. They have minerals and vitamins that you can't get anywhere else. Eggs have been known to help fight Altheimer's disease. They are packed with protein but they have to be "real" eggs... not store bought.
- Stop buying packaged snacks and ready made meals. Yes, they may seem easier to prepare for a very busy family but not only will you be spending more time off work in the doctor's office, you will also are paying more for what you get. There are some amazing recipes and ideas out there on the internet to help you manage cooking, and feeding your family on the run, in a healthy way... believe me, if I can do it, you can do it. For example, make a batch of organic granola bars on a Saturday afternoon. Make enough to last the week, for easy grab-and-go. It will take you maybe 45 mins to figure it all out and less each time you prepare them. For the cost, you will get a ton more doing it yourself. Another great healthy snack is hard boiled eggs. My boys love them. Lots of nutrition and good for the brain!
- One word... Costco! I can not begin to explain how much I LOVE this store. It carries lots and lots of organic products in bulk at an awesome price. It's my once-a-month stop shop. Since I started shopping there, I make little to no extra stops at the store throughout the week and our pantry is stocked with more variety of organic products.
- Use your crock pot. Even if you use it to just cook the chicken you will shred and put on salad or sweet potato later that evening, it saves time and gets one part of dinner done in advance. There are tons and tons of recipes online for crock pots. Just don't use the ones that include cream soups or weird packaged things... keep it real. :)
- Don't be afraid to use your imagination. I love finding recipes I can alter. If I find one I think will be a hit, I immediately figure out how I can alter it to fit with the things I have or am willing to feed my family. And there's nothing wrong with a good ol' cleaning-out-the-fridge meal. This morning I emptied my fridge with every single veggie I could find. I had a few of this and a 1/2 of that, and I made vegetable soup in the crock pot. I added some kale and cilantro, a can of organic diced tomatoes. I may bake some homemade grain free bread tonight to go with it... BOOM! Done. :) Healthy, packed with nutrition, organic, and the best part... easy. (and nothing was wasted!)
Here's a wonderful chart showing just what exactly is the difference between organic and non.
|Apply chemical fertilizers to promote plant growth.||Apply natural fertilizers, such as manure or compost, to feed soil and plants.|
|Spray synthetic insecticides to reduce pests and disease.||Spray pesticides from natural sources; use beneficial insects and birds, mating disruption or traps to reduce pests and disease.|
|Use synthetic herbicides to manage weeds.||Use environmentally-generated plant-killing compounds; rotate crops, till, hand weed or mulch to manage weeds.|
|Give animals antibiotics, growth hormones and medications to prevent disease and spur growth.||Give animals organic feed and allow them access to the outdoors. Use preventive measures — such as rotational grazing, a balanced diet and clean housing — to help minimize disease.|
Also, take note that "Natural" and "Organic" are NOT the same thing! You may see "natural" and other terms such as "all natural," "free-range" or "hormone-free" on food labels. These descriptions must be truthful, but don't confuse them with the term "organic." Only foods that are grown and processed according to USDA organic standards can be labeled organic.
One more reason to buy organic:
Organic regulations ban or severely restrict the use of food additives, processing aids (substances used during processing, but not added directly to food) and fortifying agents commonly used in nonorganic foods, including preservatives, artificial sweeteners, colorings and flavorings, and monosodium glutamate.
If you would like some meal ideas and great recipes to continue on your journey of clean eating CLICK HERE for a wonderful cookbook, "This Is How We Eat" by Anna Wight!
Enjoy your weekend and visit a Farmer's Market, make something yummy for dinner. :)