07 April 2011

Organic on a Budget

If you enjoyed reading what I keep on hand, you might also be interested in knowing what I choose to buy organic and what I will buy conventionally. This has everything to do with my budget, of course, but since I believe in organic food and want to give my children the best I can afford, I tend to specifically focus on 'The Dirty Dozen.' The Eco Logical Mom actually posted the updated list of these foods in January, so visit that page to see it in its entirety.  

What I Buy Organic:

  • Apples: I try to give H & P an apple every day, usually shredded because it's easier for Piper to eat (apple snow). Even though I peel them anyway, again because it's easier for them to eat (or has been up until now), I don't know how many pesticides get beneath the skin. Most of the time, I get a bag at Giant or Wegmans for $4.99 and yes, I feel it's worth it.
  • Potatoes: Sometimes, Whole Foods has them on sale, but I found that Wegmans actually has the cheapest bag of Organic potatoes at $3.49 (at Whole Foods and Giant a bag is $4.99).
  • Celery: I was holding off on this for a while, but I was recently made aware how bad regular celery really is, so now I only get organic (and no I don't remember how much it is off the top of my head, sorry).
  • Salad: In case you haven't noticed, we try to eat salad a lot. Since I don't have a garden right now, nor are the farmer's markets alive, I must resort to the store. Whole Foods has the best deal on Organic romaine hearts, three for $2.49. Elsewhere you might pay close to $5 for the same. I find that buying actual heads of lettuce versus bags of salad is the most economical way to go since the heads go a lot further and cost significantly less. 
  • Greens: While I do try to buy things like kale, spinach and collard greens fairly often, I do not get them all the time (depending on my mood). But when I do, I get them at Whole Foods because the bunches are usually $2.49 and you can pick a fairly large one that will last through a few meals, plus the stems can be used for stock or composting. 
  • Other Fruits: I do not always buy fruit beyond bananas and apples simply because of their expense. However, if I get pears or peaches or berries (very rarely!) I do get them Organic.
  • Meat/Eggs/Dairy: OK, I don't actually buy these Organic all the time, but what I do get is cage free, hormone free, grass-fed, vegetarian diet, antibiotic free animal products. In some ways, animal products scare me even more than the pesticides on general foods. The idea that my children could be ingesting growth hormones or whatever antibiotics were given to these animals literally makes me sick. Luckily, I can get the type of animal product I am willing to put in my mouth and their mouths at both Giant and Whole Foods. This is really, really important to me. Remember, everything that that animal ate or was given is what YOU are eating. Think about it.

What I Don't Buy Organic:

  • Onions: They're clean. As clean as an onion can be...
  • Bananas: The skin is so thick it probably wouldn't matter if you put pesticides all over them. Plus, you peel it all off anyway so you don't have much to worry about. I am trying to buy more Fair Trade bananas from Sam's Club or Whole Foods, but if I really, really need them I'll get them wherever. (I noticed that the Fair Trade bananas seem to ripen weirdly, turning an odd shade of brownish green rather than yellow...has anyone else noticed this?)
  • Asparagus: It's low on the list, so if I can get them for less than $2.99/lb, I pick them up. At the Polish store near me, when they have asparagus, they often have it for $.99 a bunch = awesome. 
  •  Peas: You may remember that my children eat peas like they're going out of style, which is why I always have several bags in the freezer. Lucky for me, I don't have to buy them organic because I would be very poor by now.
  • Citrus Fruits: Lemons, oranges and grapefruits don't matter to me much, aside from picking nice looking ones. I can get 10 oranges for $2 at that Polish store and that makes me happy.  
  • Garlic: I don't know anything about the levels of pesticides on garlic, but I've never seen it on a 'bad' list, so I get it where I can.
  • Carrots: These are iffy for me. Sometimes I buy them Organic, sometimes I don't. I've been leaning towards getting them Organic more often than not, but it depends where I go to get them. Again, I'm not sure what the pesticide level of this vegetable is, so I can't really put it on my 'Must Buy Organic' list just yet. 
  • Kiwi: It's also clean, so when I can get 5 for $2.00, I get them. 
  • Peanut Butter: This is the only peanut butter I buy. While I do not buy Organic, I do buy the one that contains the following ingredients: Peanuts and salt. The end.
  • Jelly: I realize that this is counter intuitive to my pact to buy Organic berries and fruits, but Organic jelly is so darn expensive, I just can't do it. However, I always pay attention to labels and for most of my life, this is the only jelly I have purchased, one with no sugar added. (P.S. If you can find the blueberry, it's awesome!)
  • Maple Syrup: Another thing I don't know much about, but I like to think that people don't randomly spray Maple trees with pesticides and that even if they do, it doesn't seep all the way into the syrup. Correct me if I'm wrong. Still, I will not buy anything but 100% pure because if you have to put something else in it and continue to call it 'maple syrup,'  you should be shot.
  • Ketchup (and other condiments): There is a significant difference between the price of 'regular' ketchup and Organic ketchup, and when the ingredients are fairly similar, I opt for the regular.
  • Pasta: I just don't do it.Wait, I take that back. Sometimes I do buy Organic vegetable pasta for H & P because they really love it. Otherwise, I can't serve anything to Mr. Man that isn't white because he'll look at it and make faces. 
  • Canned Tomato Stuff: All the pasta sauce, tomato sauce, tomato paste, and canned tomatoes I buy are usually not Organic. I did, however, buy some Organic diced tomatoes at Whole Foods the other day because they were on sale, but as a rule I don't go out of my way for them.

If you know more information about any of these products, please let me know. I'm always willing to learn more about what I'm eating. Also, please remember that even if I don't buy something Organic, I will only buy the product that contains the fewest ingredients, the least amount of sodium and/or sugar and the closest to real I can find. I can't wait to start finding and visiting the local Farmer's Markets because then I will be able to save even more on good food. :) 


      1. As far as I know and believe, Bananas are extremely toxic. Buy them organic. I wish I was smart enough to remember all the statistics I read and the interesting scientific information. All I remember is the bottom line. I also remember that they are absolutely not protected by the skins. It's all in there. It's a big one, especially as kids like them so much.
        I found these sites to give you an idea: http://www.mindfully.org/Pesticide/chiquita/chiquita11.htm

      2. Wow! I have never, ever heard that before. Thank you so much for the information!

      3. I've been getting organic carrots at the Giant, they are the cheapest I've found so far and sometimes they will be on sale for a dolla!

      4. Hi Amanda, I just started reading thanks to NPN. I used to wonder about Maple Syrup too then I heard it's about what they clean the lines with. Organic producers don't use bleach or formaldehyde in their lines.

      5. Hmm, OK. That makes sense. :) Thanks Erin! I should go plant some Maple trees... :)