Organic? Cheap? Local? What’s the most important to you? - Page 2 - Mothering Forums
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#31 of 51 Old 01-26-2013, 12:20 PM
 
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Originally Posted by GreenVariety View Post
other drought ridden states), because of a hybrid Tifton grass that when stressed produces cyanide. It's a hybrid, not a genetic modification (but is also not what would generally take place in nature as the grasses were from two different continents).

going further off topic, i think the gap is closing as more and more species have access to others due to globalization and the world is looking more and more different as time passes. the same plant could be a weed in one continent and being saved at another as a native. 

 

i dont understand all the terms. i think research is important to understand things - and keep profit out of it (HAH!!!). i think GMO is important to understand the process of hybridization. you know like a child mixing things and realizing that those two dont mix well coz they produce a dangerous product which looks alright.

 

and yes the people who do eat corn around me here - do so locally that they pick up from the farmers they know (from farms who dont bring in GMO feed). 


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#32 of 51 Old 01-26-2013, 01:53 PM
 
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I haven't been able to find beans I can eat, yet. I've purchased organic beans, and will plant them when I have a yard, to grow my own. I sure miss beans.

All this info is interesting, and I apologize for stealing the thread and taking us off topic. I am going to continue to buy what I've been buying the past year, until I have time to do more research. I'm not having reactions, and neither is my son, so it's good for now.
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#33 of 51 Old 01-26-2013, 02:02 PM
 
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Local, then organic, then cheap. Local tends to be cheaper anyway! Our grocery budget is super tight so I try and make it count. Lots of leafy greens and beans! Luckily I can grow greens year round where I live.
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#34 of 51 Old 01-26-2013, 02:09 PM
 
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Priorities:

 

-local and seasonal (as long as food is not one of the dirty dozen  http://www.organic.org/articles/showarticle/article-214)

-organic 

-price

 

Where price is prioritised is somewhat dependant on how much it costs.  

 

If regular lettuce cost 1$ and organic 3$, I am getting the regular lettuce.  If regular lettuce is a $1 and organic is 1.50$, I am getting the organic.

 

We eat quite low down on the food chain, garden and make a fair bit from scratch- all of these help me feel comfortable with what we put in our bodies. 

 

Gardening and making food from scratch are both time intensive.  I get joy from both, though, so it is all good.  I do understand some people do not have time, or feel towards gardening and cooking from scratch the way I feel about housecleaning  (boo, hiss)…in which case careful shopping might be more important.

 

Do you like to cook or garden, OP?  Do you have time or can you make it/delegate it?


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#35 of 51 Old 01-26-2013, 02:10 PM
 
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Good grief, Rachel, we posted at the same time and agree on something!  The sky is falling (just kidding   smile.gif )


There is a battle of two wolves inside us.  One is good and the other is evil.  The wolf that wins is the one you feed.

 

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#36 of 51 Old 01-26-2013, 03:46 PM
 
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I prioritize whole foods and affordability first.  I will buy and eat less to improve quality.  I also buy produce that is in season so not shipped a long way.  My idea of cheap is affected by the fact that I do not eat wheat and almost never eat sugar so many of the cheapest foods are not even considered--I also don't consider these to be good nutritional values.

 

I choose local over organic, most of which is mostly organic but not certified.  Most small farms are quite cautious with pesticides, and I don't worry about nonorganic fertilizers even though there are better ways to farm.  I mean, using miracle grow is nonorganic but does would you really consider that a danger if someone offered you a tomato that had been grown with miracle grow?  Fertilizers and pesticides are two very different things in food safety and I think very responsible farmers can produce healthy food with some nonorganic fertilizers in their growing program.  Pesticides are very worrisome to me however.  Luckily there are a lot of rules and pesticides are really expensive so there are incentives for being careful...  Organic pesticides can actually be kind of yucky too.  Fortunately there are a lot of great farmers learning all of the time, incorporating IPM practices etc. so some healthier methods are becoming more and more and more part of conventional farming all over.

 

Anyhow I buy Amish butter which is not certified organic but IME Amish usually have healthy farming practices including pastures so a good gamble.  I buy organic greens when I am not growing them.  I buy local cream and sometimes get fresh local milk/cream from good farms and get local free range eggs.  I buy organic mushrooms because our grocery uses an organic source for all of their mushrooms, sometimes carrots because their cost is nearly the same as nonorganic.  I generally buy organic apples but I buy apples less than half as often as I might in order to do so.  Mostly what I buy organic is what we eat a lot of, what's not too much higher in cost, and what is most easily available locally.  Other things I either compromise or decide we don't need it at all.

 

Other than those I buy mostly nonorganic and nonlocal.  I choose foods I consider "clean" and those that have more nutrition per dollar on average.  We eat quite a lot of conventionally raised/grown food and I am done stressing about that.  I will not break the budget to get these things.  It's a luxury to make that choice.  Also, the most affordable and available organic foods are distributed by huge corporations and I skip it because I don't trust them.  First of all I am poor, and I am too grateful to have food at all to be too picky.  (My kids are already better off in that than most of the world.)  Second of all, I think organics make less impact on personal health than many other choices that I can easily afford.  Like avoiding sugar, or exercising, or drinking more water.     

 

I am willing to buy a few fancy things to make eating a greater pleasure, so a fancy cheese or  specialty salad dressing or shitake mushrooms are things that add a lot of value.  Especially a fancy condiment is something that makes a plain food special and a little goes a long way.  Even that is more valuable to me than eating all organic foods :)

 

Some of my choices appear luxury but I get a lot of food value from them:  I will buy a free range goose (I assume probably organic or close enough for me :) ) and that seems costly but along with a meal and leftovers, I get a quart of goose fat that I use for roasting potatoes for a month or two.

 

I have a good but not very expensive water filter (Berkey) that is more important to me than organic food because I think water quality makes a huge impact on health for the cost.  If I had to give up the water filter or everything that I get certified organic I'd keep the water filters.


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#37 of 51 Old 01-26-2013, 04:20 PM
 
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I agree that certified organic isn't the be all end all, especially with a local product, but with things like fertilizer I have major concerns with the environmental impact and sustainability. It might not cause the end product to contain harmful ingredients, but some practices absolutely contribute to contaminated drinking water, for example.
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#38 of 51 Old 01-26-2013, 04:47 PM
 
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I agree, Rachel.  

 

For me, it's not just what ends up on my plate, it's also how farming and production practices protect or harm the environment.  Personally, I get a bit irritated by the focus of buying organic produce, except the ones that show little chemical residue for the consumer.  Yes, that is important, but it is just as important to protect the earth and workers who bring the crops in.  (At least it's a start, I guess.)  


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#39 of 51 Old 01-26-2013, 05:40 PM
 
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I agree that certified organic isn't the be all end all, especially with a local product, but with things like fertilizer I have major concerns with the environmental impact and sustainability. It might not cause the end product to contain harmful ingredients, but some practices absolutely contribute to contaminated drinking water, for example.

 

Contaminated land isn't completely addressed by organics but is addressed by better farming practices.  While those are often the same thing they are not always.  You can manage to prevent runoff.  Generally runoff of fertilizers is far worse from lawn care than farms.  Not that any of it is A-OK but with so many threads of cause and effect I simply do not intend to try to make everything right. 

 

When it comes to my grocery dollar, it's too small to save the world.  I am conscious, I make some excellent choices so I can do my part, and I can also live with my compromises.  If I were a little wealthier I'd do a bigger part.   


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#40 of 51 Old 01-26-2013, 05:52 PM
 
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That's pretty much the same point I was trying to make, little bird. Organic isn't the gold standard, to me, but there are other issues than just if I'm going to have residue on my tomato. Especially with a fertilizer like miracle gro, for example, it's very ver often symptomatic of farming practices that are problematic on a much broader scale.

I have a very modest grocery budget and I manage to spend the overwhelming bulk of it on local, sustainably raised foods. I am tremendously lucky to live in an area with exceptionally strong infrastructure for locally grown food, though. When I don't know the farmer and the farming practices, I rely more on things like organic certification. Organic and responsibly grown food doesn't have to be outrageously expensive. It just doesn't. There are a lot of foods we don't eat, don't eat out of its season, or only eat sometimes when we can find a responsible source.

As for organic not really impacting personal health, I very much disagree, especially for children. Even the apa recognizes the impact of pesticide residue on the health of children and has issued a statement urging parents and other care providers to choose organic food and other strategies to limit children's pesticide exposure. I think it has a tremendous impact on children's health, especially when you're talking about things they're exposed to or eat every day. That's leaving aside the health ramifications of the negative impact on the environment, especially water, that impacts health, as well.
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#41 of 51 Old 01-26-2013, 07:15 PM
 
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I agree that we pretty much agree :)

 

There are times when "not outrageously expensive" isn't enough though for me to make it through a week's worth of meals.  I already push it a lot for the higher-quality items we buy and I just don't feel like I "ought to" be pushing it further.  I used to grow a lot when my kids were little littles, then couldn't really afford the time, and my kids have huge appetites now. 

 

There are quite a few things buy in quantity in the cheapest store brand for which my cost would be more than doubled in organic products.  That's true of eggs when my local egg lady is in her slow season.  It's true of most meats including our farmer's market meats.  Similar with dairy, cheese, tortillas, frozen vegetables, and others.  I may not mind paying $5 per pound of organic butter but I can still get it for $2.50 if it isn't organic.  While paying $3 for OG tortillas isn't outrageous if I'm otherwise paying $1.40 then it's still twice that frugal option and I usually buy six packages at a time.  When my farmer isn't producing enough milk to sell us, I can choose to pay $2.89 or about $7.00 per gallon (for local nonorganic good-farm milk in glass bottles) or almost as much for the corporate organic version.  (Although my local farm eggs and milk are organic and both are cheaper than grocery organic and close actually to conventional grocery store prices. So lucky!)  I eat a whole milk yogurt I love, not organic, $2.15 a quart I think and $5 is probably typical for OG, and I do not like making my own yogurt.  I pay $8 a quart for local cream and that's also double the Walmart price here.  Ground beef is under $3 a pound at the supermarket and the local grass fed price is around $6.00.  While I may not consider those prices outrageous the difference in cost is quite significant.  While for these it may be double for many others is just a 50% markup--still a lot.  My $400-500 could easily become $700-800.  And I already fuss too often at my children to save food because of cost. 

 

Anyhow, I do have to be very careful, our income can vary and no portion of it is absolutely certain.  I would be digging our financial grave to buy beyond my means. I very, very carefully do without some things and shop organic for others but sometimes buying conventionally-farmed foods is the very best possible decision I could make at that time and I am not into feeling guilty about sound decisions.  I really struggle not to feel miserable about our financial situation, and feeling guilty about not providing the right foods would drag me down.

 

Anyhow I did not mean Rachel that organic doesn't matter at all, just that it matters less than avoiding sugar or getting exercise or drinking plenty of high-quality water.  I agree that it matters-- both at the production and the consumption levels.  But all other things being equal if I had to pick between a sugary organic cereal and a sugarless nonorganic I'd name the sugarless one the healthier choice.  (A nonsugary organic one would of course be the very best option.)  If I had to choose whether to have an organic apple plus tap water, or a nonorganic apple plus our filtered water, I'd probably skip the apple or peel the nonorganic one, but I would definitely choose the purified water--even though in an ideal world I would not compromise on either.  I think also if I had to choose between raising a completely sedentary child eating 100% organic foods and a child getting lots of exercise and contact with plants and clean air who may eat mostly conventionally-produced foods I'd lean toward the active child being able to better cleanse and heal toxins rather than the inactive child being somehow healed by the cleaner nourishment of the organic foods. 

 

When I have to compromise only sometimes is being organic more important than being cheap.  Local sways me far more than organic because I believe that it is the more powerful investment in sustainable  economics and farming practice. 


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#42 of 51 Old 01-26-2013, 07:34 PM
 
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Not enough savings in the world to get me to buy factory farmed meat. That's my hill to die on.

You're setting up some weird false choices for some reason I don't really understand.
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#43 of 51 Old 01-26-2013, 08:25 PM
 
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Sorry they are weird false choices.  They weren't literal.  I was trying to explain what I'd said previously--you'd disagreed about organics being less important (actually you said unimportant) and I was trying to explain why I can care about organics and yet also say that those other health choices can be even more important.  Obviously we don't isolate these things IRL but I just feel that we can't do everything just right.  Anyway I'm not trying to create an argument really.  I was just making references to compromises especially ones you may make if you can't afford certain things.

 

I have faced a lot of harsh choices in the grocery store.  Maybe not buying conventional meat would be an option because you can skip having meat, but I have been through many times in my life when I did not have the option to buy anything organic.  I can feed six people for $6 when necessary and I'm going to be glad I managed it and thankful-- not regretting that I didn't have organic food.

 

Sometimes cheap becomes more important because you don't intend to make your children miss a few meals to have the better kind of food.

 

We have conventional angus beef cattle farms here everywhere and they are not nasty at all... it's rolling pasture land and it's quite clean and boring farming.  I think improving farms is great but cattle coming from places like those surrounding us here are not frightening horror stories. They are not "factory farms" but this is the meat that is ultimately headed for regular supermarkets.  These are good farmers, often experts in pasture and grazing plants and animal health, and tend to manage their farms with care.  But they won't be sold as premium grassfed meats, they won't even be at the farmer's market. 

 

The hill I would choose to die on would be my children not having empty bellies. 

 

No parent should ever feel guilty for buying a conventional food because they thought organic choices were outside of their budget. I mention fresh air and water and the like only to say not all important good choices cost extra money.  If someone feels they can't afford high-priced foods then they should not worry about it and do something else that is healthy and free.


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#44 of 51 Old 01-27-2013, 06:04 AM
 
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I didn't say conventional meat, I said factory farmed meat. Our meat isn't usually organic, but it's from a local family farm. Of course I wouldn't let my family go hungry, that's another odd conclusion to jump to when there are so many other options, including meatless meals. In fact we only eat meat a couple of times a week, usually.

I was only talking about my own priorities, that one is really important to me.

My grocery budget is really small, too. I get what you're saying about how you have to prioritize and make decisions within that. We just make different ones, I guess.

I just don't like the false choice between starvation and conventional food. I can feed six people for six dollars and still have all the ingredients be responsibly sourced. Obviously no one should let their kid go hungry because they can't find free range ostrich burger at their local piggly wiggly (or themselves go hungry, for that matter) but why in the world would it ever come to that?

It's not just you that makes that point, it's all over the place. It's like people who say they can't afford to eat healthy because produce is so expensive. Well, that's not really the case, it's just a myth that persists and people use it as an excuse.
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#45 of 51 Old 01-27-2013, 07:06 AM
 
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I  am trying to put myself in anothers shoes (say an urban apartment dweller with 2 young children).  Do I use the store down the street where I can generic food on budget  - or do I bus all around town looking for stores that sell the food I want at the price I want?  Theoretically, I might be able to use the store down the street some of the time plus do a grocery run once a month or so - do I have storage space to store the stuff from the health store or farmers market I get to  once a month?  Am I going to get all the food home by bus - or get a taxi (with money I do not have)?

 

Poverty can equal access issues as well; it is not only a straight "hey - this store has butter at 2$ and organic at 4$"

 

I am not trying to create or even support a false dichotomy (I agree with Rachel that poverty is often used as an excuse for poor eating);  I do think people should do what they can with what they have to support ethical and healthy food, without driving themselves insane. 

 

Much of  how often people can eat the way they want is personal and comes down to exactly how much money, time and access to good food you have.  

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#46 of 51 Old 01-27-2013, 07:48 AM
 
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That's a very good point, Kathy. Access, especially for the urban poor, is often a very real issue.
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#47 of 51 Old 01-27-2013, 02:16 PM
 
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Like most things, it's about priorities. I live in the suburbs with no car. We buy a few things at our local supermarket, but do most of our shopping at a natural food store three and half miles away. We bus there and back. We order by the case to get a twenty percent discount, and the food is waiting for us when we go. We go once a week, more or less, and between my teenage son and I carry everything the 1/2 mile to the bus stop. The workers know everything must go into four bags, because we have only four hands. If we know we have more than usual to pick up, we bring bags that can go on our shoulders, so there'll be more than four. It's difficult, but we manage. If my son was younger, the difference would be in the packing of the bags, giving him light ones to carry. Or get a cart to put most of the groceries in. It can be done, but only if it is the priority.

For us, organic is the difference between being miserable and being productive. Therefore, it is a priority. It's that simple. Would I do the same if we felt alright eating conventional foods? I really don't know. So I'm not judging others who choose differently. But a tomato grown with Miracle Grow will never be in our home. That I know. I wonder what choices I'll make when my son is grown and leaves, as he has the more serious reactions to conventional foods. I'll find out eventually.
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#48 of 51 Old 01-27-2013, 02:40 PM
 
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Budget and values got me to start a buying club after searching out several in my area for meat/dairy/eggs. We lived in the suburbs at the time but had a lot of friends and acquaintances that lived in apartments. The buying clubs had drop sites that were local making the food available. The food was more expensive then conventionally factory farmed meat but it was not certified organic either.
 

I want to echo the thoughts of others with conventional and the impact on children of toxins in their foods. Residue of toxic chemical's is a real and present danger to all of us but especially children. It is also an element that anyone who takes the time and mass quantities of energy (lets not kid ourselves, those of us that have been doing this for a long time exert a lot of time and energy to it - it's about priorities -- mine is, I can pay for sick care of I can pay for food, something my grandmother and mother instilled in me). I personally don't limit it to my human charges but also my critters. My livestock ideally only has one bad day in their life (assuming there is nothing else I need to address or no outside trauma I have no control over like predators) and I provide them the best food I can to nourish them as well (and subsequently the soils they manure for me).

 

Fertilizers greatly affect things that we are not even completely understanding yet. NPK fertilizers bind up other minerals in the soil affecting pasture for livestock and at times making them deadly (apparent in sheep and goats quickly especially if copper or magnesium is bound up). Most Americans are chronically deficient in magnesium (looked at the deodorant isle lately, it's huge -- symptom of magnesium deficiency is body odor) which is bound up by the spreading of NPK fertilizers. The guy that discovered NPK fertilizers was unable to stop them after he shared the info (he discovered they were minding up trace minerals) after releasing their miracle results. Most livestock needs minerals supplied to them because they can not get it from their diet. Fertilizer run off also affects our estuaries and water bodies. They play a roll in the growth of toxic algae which results in pet and human illnesses or death as well as the consumption of mass quantities of oxygen in the water and mass fish die off's. These things are all connected and something that is very important to take into consideration when you "vote with your dollars."

 

As far as poverty, there are ways to get high quality food on a very tight budget. It requires some "fancy foot work" but it is very possible. I have a good friend with 6 children at home living on one income. She does it. They eat a lot more beans and bread then she would like but she spends the money she does get on top quality, pastured meats and uses that to her advantage. She also purchases raw milk every week from one of those buying clubs I was referring to. If she had the funds to purchase a chest freezer (and the space - but I suspect she would find that if she could free up the extra funds for one) she would be able to do more meat because she would be able to buy it at a much lower price then buying it weekly for planned meals. She lives in suburbia, not an apartment, but I think with a little ingenuity and creativity, anything is possible. And as I said previously, it's about priorities. Education helps as well.

 

That all being said, if things aren't how you like them and you don't have access to the things you want access to, you can change that. I did. I created a buying club with other moms. I had a good friend that did one with her church group. It's very possible to get the foods you want for a much more reasonable price then store bought even if you don't have a car and the bus is your only mode of transportation. I did have a vehicle but hardly used it. There were things like UNFI buying club which a local church group used and other could join (bulk grains for a fraction of the store bought price) and frozen products...really anything. If you hit the minimum order they didn't charge shipping and everyone got together one day a month and split the orders up when they were delivered. I have a friend with a small business that has an account with a local produce distributor. We would put an order through her for organic produce, split it between us and pick it up twice a month (lemons, celery, some fruit, etc) for a fraction of the store price.

 

And I need to reiterate, organic, although not a perfect system by any stretch of the imagination (and one that I would gladly step outside of if I could be next door to all my farmers) does guarantee a few things that help protect you from extra toxins in your food/life. There are a lot of pitfalls to organic, but that is definitely one benefit. And since I can't live next door to my apple orchard, lemon orchard, avocado orchard, date orchard and grapefruit orchard ... I will opt to trust organic to give me a higher quality product with more nutrients in it and less toxins (not always more nutrients because of the soil that things are being grown on). I don't have to worry about the waxing, irradiation (yet - they are working on getting that organic approved) and dirty dozen when buying organic.


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#49 of 51 Old 01-27-2013, 02:44 PM
 
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Another thing to consider is the work conditions of the conventional (and probably organic although I read about them MUCH less) migrant harvesters (and they aren't all migrant). It's worse then in some other nations. I can't in good conscious support it. So again, I vote with my dollars. But many people aren't aware that these situations even exist in the US. These workers that bring us our food get below minimum wage, horrible working conditions (exposure to field freshly sprayed with highly toxic chemicals), no health benefits or care for that matter and work ludicrous hours just to buy a weeks bread for their families. Often they say that it's worse then what they left but they can't go back because their kids have much better schooling or what have you...

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#50 of 51 Old 01-27-2013, 02:57 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Rrrrrachel View Post

I didn't say conventional meat, I said factory farmed meat. Our meat isn't usually organic, but it's from a local family farm. Of course I wouldn't let my family go hungry, that's another odd conclusion to jump to when there are so many other options, including meatless meals. In fact we only eat meat a couple of times a week, usually.

I was only talking about my own priorities, that one is really important to me.

My grocery budget is really small, too. I get what you're saying about how you have to prioritize and make decisions within that. We just make different ones, I guess.

I just don't like the false choice between starvation and conventional food. I can feed six people for six dollars and still have all the ingredients be responsibly sourced. Obviously no one should let their kid go hungry because they can't find free range ostrich burger at their local piggly wiggly (or themselves go hungry, for that matter) but why in the world would it ever come to that?

It's not just you that makes that point, it's all over the place. It's like people who say they can't afford to eat healthy because produce is so expensive. Well, that's not really the case, it's just a myth that persists and people use it as an excuse.

 

I'm sorry to be argumentative. Truly.  Our entire community is fairly low income, and I feel hurt for any mom who feels guilty for not buying better food because she sincerely needs to compromise some things.  Personally I compromise on some things and often make similar choices as yours.  I thought it was a little unfair to say the difference in expense is not that great, because where I am the difference can be really large especially if you are shopping for a larger family.  For some things the price difference is quite large and can really add up.  If you are being smart and can focus on thinking through carefully you can manage it, but it can be hard.   

 

There are things I buy organically all of the time and things I do only sometimes, and it often depends on how tight my budget is that week. I have to be really careful.  I usually buy my eggs from a local grower for $3 but when her hens aren't laying enough (like now), whether I buy organic free range eggs for $4.60 or standard ones for $2 a dozen is based on budget and I do not stress about it if I buy the less good ones for some of that time.  (Although I do want to beg my egg lady to raise more chickens LOL.)  We are in the same position with milk right now, waiting for our farmer's cow to be ready again.  If he's selling us milk we never get it at the grocery but when we are temporarily waiting I go both ways depending on my budget, since the next best option is triple his price. 

 

I agree with you about the produce excuse too!  We have a very tight budget, but I don't think my compromises make my diet unhealthy.  The kind of compromise I make is to buy lots of OG greens and lots of OG carrots but rarely buy any apples at all because I insist on OG for apples 90% of the time.  I buy grapes only about twice a year because of this, almost always OG.  I get nonorganic bananas and onions, but I also grow organic onions myself part of the year.  Some of my "intermittent" produce isn't organic, some is, and what I am saying is that if you are eating plenty of produce and it's not all organic or all local, you are still eating healthy.  Vegetables are excellent food value and definitely worth their cost while bread products can look cheap but not contribute enough nutritionally to be worth it. 

 

I think some of the weirdness in my posts is because I was carrying on another conversation about people who get food stamps, etc. on another thread so probably some of what I was saying there bled into this thread.  Anyway you do make some good points and I will keep in mind the opportunities I may have to make better local choices but don't.  Like many I am not making as much effort as I could because of the expediency factor in a crazy busy life, and it is good to talk it through and be reminded of how much it matters to be more conscious..


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#51 of 51 Old 03-08-2013, 03:31 PM
 
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For me personally, I just graduated and began paying back all my student loans, a new car etc and id like to save for a house so I'm trying to be more conservative. If I can get it organic for a reasonable price then I do. Sometimes korean markets will have organic produce for cheap as will Trader Joes. However I wont pay....4-5 bucks for a organic cucumber. Just silly IMO disappointed.gif


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