Happy New Year! I figured we should begin 2015 with a little chat about vegetables and butter. Good idea, don’t you think?
After seeing some pictures of my grocery store purchases a few weeks ago, Nancy wrote:
Do I see that you don’t buy everything organic? Your butter and cheese are not. I struggle because as much as I have changed our lifestyle, make so much on my own, and buy so much organic, I cannot afford for the butter to be (organic). With the amount we consume in a week, my husband would need a second job! :) Your ministry continues to be a blessing. Thank you!
Second job, indeed! I was excited to see that our grocery store is carrying organic butter now, but at almost $5 for a tiny little 1/2 pound, that’s awfully hard to take in – even for a butter lover like me. :)
My short answer is, “No, I do not buy everything organic.” And now the long answer…
From meat to milk and fruits to vegetables, organic truly is best. But you know what’s also best? Staying within our budget and taking the stress out of feeding our families whole foods.
I used to be super afraid of anything that wasn’t completely clean – so much so that if a food item wasn’t organic, I simply would not buy it or feed it to my family. This became very stressful, mostly because it was practically impossible and very limiting. Because I live in a small town without many organic resources (and can only get food from a food co-op once per month), fresh fruits and vegetables were rare around here at that time. Wow, were we missing out.
Here’s what I do now:
- I strive to fill our table with as much variety of whole food as possible, especially fruits and vegetables. Organic or not, this is my first priority.
- If an organic option of the food we want/need is available and within our budget, I am very happy to buy it.
- If an organic option is not available but the food will nourish us, give us variety, and is within our budget, I am still very happy to buy it.
I prefer organic, free range, locally grown, and sustainably raised versions of every single food – I do. I’m so thankful for every bit of meat, dairy, fruit, vegetable, and grain I can get my hands on that has been produced with care. This really is best for us.
But I no longer feel guilt or anxt about eating whole foods that are not organic. I know that God is bigger than pesticides and that doing the best we can with what we have is a more important focus. Our bodies crave nourishment, so I’ll continue to work on filling my family with goodness in any form I can find and afford.
One final thought: Just because a fruit snack or cookie carries an “organic” label, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s nourishing. I’d rather have a non-organic peach than an organic cheddar bunny. Just something to chew on (literally).
I too love organic produce, but I couldn’t afford to buy everything organic. I try to avoid supermarkets and buy fresh produce from local butchers, greengrocers and markets. I would love to buy more organic produce, but the budget wouldn’t stretch that far.
Thank you for the wonderful post! I also struggle with this. I want to feed the best for my family but trying to do that on our one income budget can be challenging. The cost of butter has gotten ridiculous. I used to buy from a monthly co-op but now I’ve been buying from BJ’s. It’s organic but not grass fed cows. I also try to buy organic that is on the dirty dozen list and the rest conventional. I’ve also decided that if no organic is available then it’s still better to get conventional then none at all. I’ve also been struggling with finding pastured chickens I can afford. Around here a 3-4lb fryer is around $18 for free range from local farmer. I try to stock up on chicken when I go to Trader’s Joe once a month but get the organic and know that it’s not pasture raised.
I LOVE this post. I can’t buy hardly any organic although I would like to, but I feel like this–I’m doing the best I can with what God has provided. I’m thankful for Aldi so that I can have produce at all. Before I started shopping there I was hardly buying any produce!
Sigh. Every year, right about this time, we revisit the family budget. Some expenses, like health insurance, electricity and water, simply cannot be avoided. But food? Oh. Dear. That is the single biggest line item in our family’s monthly budget. And Laura, as you know, teenage boys eat A LOT. I’ve been reading about “feeding your family for $300/month. Or $500/month. Or even $800/month. Wowsers. But, many of these families have very young children, or petite girls who don’t eat much. Our spending is never that low. Over $1,000/month. Every single month. Even with a garden, even buying in bulk. even soaking beans and baking my own bread. Even snatching planned-overs from the ever-hungry mouths of my babes. (Who are taller than I am, and can out-eat a hungry elephant!)
After much prayer, our family decided that even though eating conventional meat is much cheaper than organic/grass-fed/pastured, we would choose to invest in our health and our children’s health. We simply eat less meat, stretching it as far as we possibly can. Dairy must be full-fat and rBST free, organic preferred, but optional. For everything else (grain, legumes, fruits/veggies), I’ll buy organic if it is comparable in price, but it is more important to buy healthy whole foods than anything organic.
(As a side note: our family is very blessed to have the room in our budget to do this. I do not, in any way, look down at those who simply cannot afford to eat organic. It is a shame that healthy food, in our country, is so outrageously expensive. It really doesn’t need to be.)
Mary Beth Elderton says
I live in a city. None of my neighbors are farmers. The nearest farmer’s market is about 8 miles—that’s 8 city surface street miles—and are only open early Saturday morning. I depend on the grocery store and Amazon. I do buy organic veggies when I can, and my grocery store offers a great selection of “locally grown” produce that I buy in abundance whether or not they are organic. However, I am very picky about a couple of things. I only use organic corn products in order to avoid the gmo corn, meaning that I buy corn starch, corn meal, etc in bulk online and stick to frozen organic corn kernels (Target’s Simply Organics are good.) I buy cane sugar rather than beet sugar for the same reason. I also favor organic wheat products because of the huge amounts of pesticides sprayed on wheat fields.
I am not with the “all or nothing” crowd who seem to think that the tiniest drop of pesticide or additive will kill. Except for the gmo corn, which may be unsafe at any level, most things really are generally safe in the small amounts that appear in foods. The problem is with the quantities we eat in the standard american diet–damn near every bite is laden with something that is not good food. The goal is, of course, all wholesome, organic practices everywhere. But the first steps towards that goal are to make significant reductions in those chemicals by choosing what you can of the organics, fair trade, local. And it is making a difference!!! Food companies and grocery stores–even Walmart!–are listening!
So, like you, my aim is to put a huge variety of nourishing foods on the table at home, choosing organics when I can. I think that as many of us switch to that approach, we will push the change to more and better foods.
Articles like this are why I love your blog. Too many other healthy eating blogs cause tremendous amounts of guilt and fear. Thanks for encouraging us to serve our families in the best ways we have available!
joanie elbourn says
I raise alot, alot, alot of our fruits and veggies ( organically, of course). I buy the main foods organic ( apples, when I can, celery always – our walmart is very affordable on celery an carrots_), get as much free range meat as I can afford ( only 3 of our 6 eat meat)…. if you shop around, you can find deals, but I do not stress about it- and no, I cannot afford organic butter !
We say what we purchase is what matters to us. If we eat at someone else’s house or are given something we will not turn it away because it is not the healthiest option! But if we stick to the healthiest options we can, then the majority of our food is clean and wholesome. We may have to compromise on some things but we are blessed with a great organic market down the street from our house!
I’m tying to eat organic now but can’t afford to buy everything that way. Which food other than corn is the most important to buy organic??? Is there a list somewhere?
The lists you find will tell you that meat and dairy are very important to buy organic, which I agree with – I just know that it isn’t reasonable for everyone. :) If you do a search for the “dirty dozen” list you’ll find a list of the highest pesticide laden fruits and vegetables. Unfortunately, most of the foods on that list are not available to me in an organic variety, so I wash them well and pray and eat! :)
Jaime L. Shelton says
God says “Everything is good if received with thanksgiving”
So if you don’t give thanks for your food, it’s not good anyway!
We are basically following a similar path. We get our milk from a small dairy farm that sells to a regular dairy, but I know them well, know their cows are on pasture during good weather and that they are not being medicated, but they are being fed grain that has had limited spraying. I raised meat chickens for the first time and got a few hens. We buy grass fed beef by the half (every two years) and a local hog ever year. I raise some produce and buy local and freeze and can like a maniac during the summer and fall. Then the rest comes from grocery stores and is often conventional. We forget what a small percentage of our income we actually spend on food compared to past generations. The chickens I raised cost me $1.77/pound without including costs of building their housing, just their cost and their feed. I recently read an article about workers who were able to take home 2 quarts of milk a month which was the equivalent of a $6/month raise. That is $12/gallon for milk years ago! The challenge is that so much food is cheap because of subsidies and it makes real food look expensive, when it really isn’t, it is our perception. And I say this as someone who also panics when I see the cost of organic butter and such. But it is the real cost of good food, the food like products out there give a false comparison and that sure makes it hard!
Thank you for such a great attitude about healthy living and eating and for all the work you do here Laura!
Heather @ My Overflowing Cup says
I hope you don’t mind me sharing a link in this post, Laura, but this is a topic that once caused me a lot of grief and anxiety as well. I wrote this post when I finally resolved the issue for my family. http://myoverflowingcup.com/health-vs-finances/ Thanks, as always, for your wisdom and encouragement.
Lindsey @ Simply Lindsey says
We buy all of our meat and dairy organic (if available). When I was single, I bought 100% organic. But now that I have a hungry husband, we tend to buy a mix of conventional and organic.
When we first started on this road of healthy eating I tried to eat all organic. That didn’t last very long. But I heard a talk from a doctor about soaking fruits and veggies that aren’t organic and that you weren’t going to peal in water with vinegar. He stated that the vinegar takes care of most of the pesticides. So I have started doing that. It gives me a great peace of mind. I also stopped buying organic butter because of the price. Because of health issues we started to raise our own meat (beef, chicken, turkey) and now I am blessed to milk 2 cows once a day. So our dairy is all homemade! I don’t always have enough cream (use it for cheese, yogurt, cottage cheese, etc.) to make butter so I supplement it with bought butter (non organic). We live in California and have a water problem so we don’t grow much veggies but do have an orchard with 20 fruit trees. With all the apples we get I make apple cider vinegar. Which we use for everything! The Lord has been so good to us! We are so blessed!! But we do have a very limited income and now our grocery money goes to the animals. LOL
Thank-you so much for this post! It helps me see things in a different light and dispels a lot of guilt.
ann in E. oregon says
I, like, many others, am trying to do the best with what God has provided. I think, as Christians, we must also remember that our bodies are a tent, not anything we’ll take with when we leave this earth. Thank you for the encouraging post. :-)
I like buying ‘organic’ whenever I can but sometimes the price they are asking is just too much.
K. Ann Guinn says
Amen and amen!
This is one of the reasons I continue to receive and read your blog (besides being encouraging, entertaining and informative). For “busyness” reasons, I don’t stay subscribed to any others long-term; I simply don’t have enough time to read them all, although I would love to.
Thanks for continuing to encourage and instruct in a way that is healthy physically, but also emotionally and spiritually.
I couldn’t agree more.
I have read your blog for quite a few years and just love it. I used to be a dietician but have been a homemaker for almost seven years now as I stay at home with my soon to be five children. Now, my husband and I live in California and have some land with about 80 fruit trees. So, we are part time “farmers”. Because of my background in nutrition and also our “farm”, I have spent a lot of time researching organic farming. I was quite surprised with what I have found. The label “organic” does not mean what a lot of people assumes it means. Organic produce is not free from pesticides, it just means that the pesticides used are natural and non-organic pesticides can be naturally or synthetically derived. People assume that because a pesticide is naturally derived that it is harmless which is not the case. Additionally, sometimes a lot more natural pesticides are used than synthetic. For example, an organic fruit farmer nearby sprays his fruit trees four times a summer while we only spray our trees once in the spring. And he sprays his trees again right before it is ready for market. (We couldn’t afford the high cost of getting certified organic so we are not considered organic.) Anyway, my whole point is that organic is a hazy label. I am not trying to bash organic at all or discourage anyone. But, I hope to relieve some of that anxiety that if you feed your family something that is not organic, their health will suffer. That is not always the case. Eating local is really wonderful but above all eating whole foods whether organic or not is the healthiest. It would be really nice if we could all know our farmers and know exactly what they use but that is not always practical. (But a lot of local farmers might be around and be a lot less than grocery stores or Whole foods. For example, around me is a nut farmer, olive farmer, a vegetable co-op, and a bee man. We can purchase the most beautiful food from them way less than anywhere else. Only one is certified organic as it is so expensive and troublesome even though they all are incredible with how they grow their produce.)
Above all, it just breaks my heart that so many feel so guilty and spend so much of their hard earned money for something that might not matter. Maybe it is because I live in California and things are at a super high pitch here. God has given us so much. Whether we eat organic or not, we can be grateful that God has given us what He has. He is such a gracious provider. Please don’t feel guilty or worried if you can’t afford organic. Rejoice and be glad that God has provided what He has. I hope this helps relieve your mind a little. I know this might be a controversial issue and I don’t want to offend anyone in any way. Please forgive me if I have. We all just do the best we can with what our gracious Father has provided.
P.S. For more information on organic farming, this article is reliable and well-written: