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Old 05-03-2011, 09:06 AM
 
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I've been working on this for years now, and I seem to do best when I put my goals in terms of "dos" rather than "don'ts" and then look around for the things that work for us. For instance, right now we DO buy milk from a farmer, we DO have a vegetable garden, we DO serve whole unprocessed fruit as our main snack food, we DO go to the farmer's market in season for eggs and other local produce. 

 

In the grocery store, other than some obvious things that have become ingrained habits in the past few years (no HFCS, organic apples since my kids eat them all. day. long.), I try not to stress myself out. If the organic grapes look terrible and cost $8, then it's no grapes or conventional grapes that week. If I'm buying boxed mac n' cheese, I'm not spending $3 extra for the "organic" version of the junk food. When I stress myself out too much about food choices, then I get fed up and we spend a month eating MORE junk.


I like your philosophy.  I think I need a little of the 'glass half full' outlook sometimes myself.  There a lots of times that I just can't afford to eat the way I really want to, but I need to remember that we are doing our best!

 


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Old 05-03-2011, 10:05 AM
 
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I don't worry too much about produce except for apples and  carrots.  My kids do not wash the apples when they grab them (despite 15 years of instruction) and go through one or two a day each. same with carrots.   Also these can often be had for less or just a few pennies more per pound.  Most of the organics available locally  are factory farmed, certified only USDA (which I consider organic light), come from a far off country and generally are just poor quality products.  I would rather have a healthy piece of veg with a side of pesticides than something organic and poor quality.

 

Meat and dairy I am very picky about.  We do not drink much milk (I buy it maybe four or five times a year) but when I do I either do our store brand organic which is from local farms and VAT pasturized (I will not drink ultra pasturized under any circumstance) and non homogonized or another local brand which is sold in glass and not ulta pasturized.  Yogurt and cheese I am not so worries about.  I don;t think any of the dairies around here use rbgh on their cows or other hormones so everything is equal in that regard.  On that not though regular and organic milk do not have much of a price difference.  Maybe a buck fifty a gallon.  

 

I work in the meat department of the grocery store. I see it, I touch it.  I know what is done to it.  Chicken:  the only chicken I will feed my family is Smart Chicken.  Their farms are nice and they treat their farmers better than average.  Their chickens are humanely slaughtered (which reduces acid in the tissue released by stress and makes them taste better), AIR CHILLED this is SOOOOO important. not only does it taste better, but it is cleaner, no risk of chicken to chicken cross contamination, product is firm and not sticky, and there is no "retained broth solution".  Some of our pilgrams pride/country pride or tyson chicken has as much as 15% of the poop soup (err...I mean natural chicken broth solution...) retained.  yuck.  and what a waste of money. POh and the employees are well treated and processing plants are immaculate.   They have an organic line but the only difference really is organic feed.  It is expensive.  Our pilgrams is $1.99 for boneless skinless breast (which by the way is the most expensive cut.  much cheaper to bone and skin yourself or get a whole chicken and learn to cook it) and our Smart Chicken (MBA brand) is on sale for $4.99.  Organic is $9.47.  Parts are more comparably priced.  Fortunately I get outdated meat for cheap (i check it out before I buy it) and have gotten organic breasts for $1 a pound and organic whole for $.50.  BEEF I will only eat our Amana brand and the ground beef we grind from the Amana trim.  Locally sourced from family farms, USDA choice, no additives and trimmed by hand.  Sometimes my hand :)  The most important thing to consider is ground beef.  I would never buy ground beef from IBP or anything that comes to the store already ground and packaged (tubes, peelable/gas packs, and even what we put in out full service meat case).  You just don't know what kind of fillers etc are in it.  Talk to your butcher and find out if there is anything they grind from trim.  You want to know when it was ground (no more than 24 hours if you are paying full price) and what exactly is in it ("trim" for us is steak and roast trim, and some trim sent by amana.  But it comes in real meaty pieces and we grind it.  we can see it.  it really doesn't matter where on the cow it came from but it does matter that it is meat and not filler washed in goodness knows what.  and I know it is a quality meat even if it is not a quality cut.)  AND this meat is cheaper than our IBP mystery meat crap some of which is over $5 a pound.  

 

anyway, we only eat meat once or twice a week because I cannot really afford the high quality stuff but I am not going to eat crap just to eat meat.  I also just learn to cook whatever i available on sale.  which reminds me....i need to go get some chicken thighs out.

 

For me quality food is more important than organic.  A lot of organic food is just junk.  something to keep in mind.


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Old 05-03-2011, 01:02 PM
 
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We buy the cheapest "all-natural" foods. I shop at Pathmark, with coupons or buy store brand. Its hard feeding/getting the necessities for my 3 guys and myself for $100 a week!

   I get very basic, plain things. Beans, brown rice, pb, ww bread and pasta. Lots of frozen, good deal, or on clearance fruits and veg. Family size chicken breasts on sale, 2 1/2 doz. eggs, 2 gallons of milk, oatmeal, yogurt. Basic stuff. I scrub/peel fruits and veg and never buy anything pre-packaged or artificial.

   Our garden this year is going to be growing lots of herbs, cucumbers, lettuce, tomatoes, watermellon, and pumpkin. We have a 10x5 patch and lots of large yogurt containers we grow the herbs in. Its so fun. :)

   Where we used to live in NJ, we were part of an organic farm share which was so economical. We would get all of out veggies/fruits for the week. Picking our own fruits and veggies was so nice I really wish there were something like that here (Wayne Pa) If anyone knows of one, please PM me!

   I value being able to stay home with the kids so much, so im just happy we can swing it right now. I tell myself that If I worked I wouldn't have the time to cook from scratch anyway.

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Old 05-10-2011, 11:28 PM
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It depends on who is shopping at our house.  In theory, we buy organic for the dirty dozen, organic milk, cage free eggs.  But I'm cheap, and I just can't spend $6 for a small thing of strawberries that are half smooshed.  And the milk!  So I settle for hormone-free milk and go between organic and regular produce.

 

DH never looks at prices and just buys whatever.  So he gets organic everything, even organic junk food.  

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Old 07-27-2011, 02:50 PM
 
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Resurrecting to ask how people feel about GMOs - where do conventional soy, corn, potatoes fall for you?  Avoid or don't worry about? This is for those who are sacrificing for the budget...I would assume that if we could afford it we'd all buy the best, cleanest, most perfect, ideal food in the world, but there is a $$ limit...


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Old 07-27-2011, 08:31 PM
 
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I think the organic label is overpriced, so I really don't obsess about it.  If I can find local sources of veggies/meat/etc I will go with that.  For instance, a local agricultural research facility is selling off several cattle.  I can call them and arrange for half or a quarter beef, and I know that while they are not necessarily 'all natural' these particular steers were part of a group raised experimenting with using largely natural approaches, and they have been humanely raised and grassfed whenever possible. I'm ok with that.  No hormones, no unnecessary antibiotics- and a good quality of life for the animals. 

 

My eggs- I get from the local grocery store.  They come from a couple local ranch families.  One ranch uses all natural feed, the other doesn't.  Both allow the hens out to free range year round- closing them up only at night.  They run about $2/dozen, and if I call the rancher in advance, they will drop them off at my house  on the way to deliver their next few dozen to the local store saving me a trip. 

 

Veggies- I get what looks good.  Often, the organic here is past its prime and is a wilty mess. I get the conventional and wash it well.  When I can, I go to local farmer's markets and talk to people about how they grow things- if I go towards the end of the alloted 'market time' I can get some great deals on veggies to freeze and use in stews and soups- and canning tomatoes in particular! I made peace with not being able to afford organic cabbage at $7 a head, but I do have a neighbor who sells his fresh from the garden stuff at $1.50 a head and always has 'mama's recipe' saurkraut handy for anyone who asks for it.  That tends to be about $2 for a gallon ziplock bag- he pulls it out of a stoneware crock when you ask for it.  Yum!

 

I keep herbs growing year round in my kitchen, and most of the time I have lettuce growing as well- either on the porch or in a sunny window in the winter.  I have a square foot garden on my porch, and throughout the summer that gives me wonderful treats.  I can't wait for my tomatoes to ripen, and I have a bunch of zucchini coming along nicely- my first harvest of those will be this weekend!  Once they start, I generally have enough to keep us supplied, to freeze, and to give away to folks who might need a boost. 

 

We use basic staples much of the time- homemade bread (I usually have dough in the fridge and bake some as necessary) pasta, brown rice, dried beans.  When we do have meat or fish it is usually a small amount incorporated into a meal.  We no longer spend much on drinks.  I was shocked when we moved away from buying things to drink at the store to drinking mostly water, herb tea, or tea.  We feel better, and that part of the budget is gone.  It had probably been $15 or so a week, but you know- over the course of a year that really adds up! Soups, casseroles and leftovers are my friends.  I plan meal sizes so there will be leftovers- just about every time- we eat this for lunches or for another day in the week when I don't get around to pulling dinner together.  Tonight it was leftover spaghetti from two nights ago.  We eat a lot of yogurt- so I started making it.  I keep it in small jars (babyfood jars are a great size for this for the kids) for easy kid self-serve.  I keep homemade jam on the same shelf as the yogurt jars, and if the kids want a flavor, they stir in a spoonful of the jam.   This also makes up into great popsicles for hot summer days.  

 

We don't really tend to eat three big 'traditional' meals a day.  I usually have a decent breakfast (often oatmeal for everyone) and lunch is usually the biggest meal for us.  Dinner is often leftovers or something easy- crackers and cheese with veggie or fruit sticks, sandwiches, soup from the crockpot etc.  We focus on making sure that snacks are high in nutrition- hard boiled eggs, cheese cubes (buy it when it's on sale, cube it up and freeze- it keeps well!)

 

It took me a while to adapt, having been brought up in a 'three square meals' kind of family, but once I focused on meeting nutritional needs with a combination of as many whole foods as possible- instead of focusing on what to provide for the three meals a day- the grocery bill dropped, and we were all feeling better overall.  

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Old 07-29-2011, 10:47 AM
 
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I don't worry about buying organic.  I prefer local by far.  I shop at IGA and they buy all of their produce locally.  I only buy veggies and fruits there.  We also forage for things that people overlook.  This year we dove into the cactus growing all around us and have learned that we love the paddles and the fruits very much.  There were no berries, plums, or peaches this year due to the awful drought so we looked elsewhere.  Other than IGA, I shop at Aldi.  What I buy there:  nuts, pb, ricecakes, coffee filters, unsweetened cereals (their brand of chex-type cereal is cheap!), yogurt (avoiding red dye), sour cream, cheeses, 12 grain bread ($1.69/loaf and it is good and soft) when I take a break from making it in my breadmaker), some spices--they don't have a big choice, some canned goods (baked beans for my growing preteens for a filling snack, mandarin oranges, tomatoes this year since I have none in my garden), white sugar for feeding our bees, wild Alaskan salmon, and canned tuna, tortilla chips. 

 

We eat lots of meat and bone broths.  We do not buy our meats.  We eat domestic rabbit for our white meat, duck and goat for our red meats, and lots and lots of wild pig both because it's totally free, and because we are doing our part to help a really big and fast-growing problem.  So I always have bones for stock.  We have goats for milk and as soon as the babe weans we'll have enough for cheeses.  We have bees for pollen and the best possible raw local honey (and we sell bees), and chickens for eggs and sometimes meat.  We have guineas for bug control and sometimes for eggs (if we can find them!) and meat.  I can also get lamb for free at the right time of year.  Oh, and for fish we send the kids to Grandmoms to go fishing.  And once yearly right around the corner is a big prawn farm.  We have talked extensively to the owner (we trade rabbit meat and HVAC work for prawns) and know all about his farming practices.  We usually stock up a bit during the harvest and then can buy frozen from him any time.

 

Usually we garden but the extreme heat killed most of mine this year. 

 

I render out my own lard now for cooking.  I make enough of a meal to have one serving each, plus lunch for dh the next day.  Anything more than that gets made into reinvented leftovers.  I am a firm believer that leftovers need not be boring.  We graze thru the day, the kids and I. 


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Old 07-29-2011, 06:22 PM
 
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I don't worry too much about organic. I used to, but then I realized how weird that was because I would buy organic produce while sucking down a coke and eating some potato chips (just being honest!). Instead, I have been focusing on trying to just clean up our diet. It is more of a priority to just get more natural. If I can afford organic, I do pick it up, but otherwise my budget needs to stretch. I would rather feed my kids a lb of non-organic strawberries than no strawberries because I can't afford them (and instead give them each a fruit roll up or a pile of crackers).


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Old 07-29-2011, 11:01 PM
 
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Check to see if Bountiful Baskets are in your area. www.bountifulbaskets.org  It is 50% fruit/50% veggies. Usually anout 15-20  lbs of produce. $25 for organic version and you get usually 5-6 different fruits and 5-6 different veggies. You can't pick what you get but we've been really happy with what we get anf the organic box is at least $50 retail and sometimes more. They also usually have some organic 'extras' you can order. Recently we got 10 lbs of organic mangoes for $4.75 and 20 lbs organic tomatoes $16.50 and 20 lbs organic nectarines for $12.50. They have sites all over and you go pick up from the volunteers that sort it. Mostly in the western US, but I know they recently opened in Atlanta, GA too.


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Old 07-30-2011, 06:59 PM
 
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This response was edited by Mulvah.

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Old 08-04-2011, 12:29 AM
 
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if you can't buy organic potatoes, don't eat them or grow your own.  Seriously.  And if you can't buy organic look for bug bites in the greens. Seriously, bug bites mean that a bug has been noshing the food and it hasn't been coated with pesticides!  Potatoes and other high caloric food are worth growing yourself if you can't buy organic.  You get a big yield for little $.  check out the grow biodynamic people in wilts, ca.


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Old 08-06-2011, 06:55 AM
 
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It's all about balance for me.  We get a CSA share every week - it's organic, and we support local farms.  We also buy beef and pork from local farms in which we are able to see their practices and what the animals are fed.  I wish we could do the same with chicken but its so expensive.  Also we'd like to do a raw milk share, but it's expensive, and also... the convenience isn't there - we'd have to pick it up, and well, it's out of my way.

 

We buy organic fruit in the summer at the farmer's markets, but in the fall and winter, we get a lot of conventional produce.  I guess it's more important to me that the food is locally grown, so we can support local farmers, but we don't do this all of the time.

 

 

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Old 08-10-2011, 10:30 AM
 
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I am sooo with you on this one. It is very hard to decide what to buy organic and what to turn a blind -eye to and just get it because you need it and it is cheap.

 

One very extreme thing we have done is move to the country. ALL of our friends and family thought we were CRAZY when we rented out our city home and rented a broken down farm house on 40 acres of land. Now a year later we are broke, but LOVE the new life style. We have free range chickens, so all our eggs are organic. We are raising 3 pigs as well. We will keep one pig for us and sell the other two. We have a plan to buy 2 dozen meat chickens for our own food and to sell to family and friends in the next couple weeks. It only takes 6-8 weeks for a chicken to be ready to slaughter! (Sorry if this is too much info.)

We have always tried to buy organic Beef, but it was not till last night when we saw Food Inc. that it all became clear. We NEED to stay here and continue this life style. We have 5 kids and we just felt like we could not keep up with the city life. I homeschool my 2 youngest and the 3 older ones where getting too caught up in all the material things kids have now a days.

We want our kids to learn a more laid back life, where kids actually do chores and can see where their food comes from.

I am working on a blog about our new life. It really has not been easy, but we are dedicated to making it work.

 

We all should be able to afford organic food. I hope i am a live to see the day when we can all eat healthy organic food without stress.

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Old 08-10-2011, 12:11 PM
 
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I am sooo with you on this one. It is very hard to decide what to buy organic and what to turn a blind -eye to and just get it because you need it and it is cheap.

 

One very extreme thing we have done is move to the country. ALL of our friends and family thought we were CRAZY when we rented out our city home and rented a broken down farm house on 40 acres of land. Now a year later we are broke, but LOVE the new life style. We have free range chickens, so all our eggs are organic. We are raising 3 pigs as well. We will keep one pig for us and sell the other two. We have a plan to buy 2 dozen meat chickens for our own food and to sell to family and friends in the next couple weeks. It only takes 6-8 weeks for a chicken to be ready to slaughter! (Sorry if this is too much info.)

We have always tried to buy organic Beef, but it was not till last night when we saw Food Inc. that it all became clear. We NEED to stay here and continue this life style. We have 5 kids and we just felt like we could not keep up with the city life. I homeschool my 2 youngest and the 3 older ones where getting too caught up in all the material things kids have now a days.

We want our kids to learn a more laid back life, where kids actually do chores and can see where their food comes from.

I am working on a blog about our new life. It really has not been easy, but we are dedicated to making it work.

 

We all should be able to afford organic food. I hope i am a live to see the day when we can all eat healthy organic food without stress.



Our posts are pretty similar, but I didn't list the reasons we do what we do.  I completely get you.  Good for you and your family!  You will continue to love this lifestyle and I encourage you to look into getting domestic meat rabbits (we raise Californians and they are wonderful!).  They are easy to manage on a small scale, and you should have less problems w/the heat than we do (except this year, maybe!).  BTW, none of our chickens have ever been ready for the freezer before at least 12 weeks.  I guess it depends on what kind you are getting.  Rabbits, on the other hand, can be ready as soon as 8 wks, but we prefer 10.


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Old 08-11-2011, 01:59 AM
 
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If you get the Cornish X chickens, they can potentially be ready in 8 weeks, but we've always gone to 10-11. If you feed them 24/7 they may be ready in 8 weeks, but they will need to just literally SIT in their coop and not do anything in order to put on weight. And, you'll lose some (10-20% or mor sometimes!) to leg problems and heart attacks. If you take away the feed from 7 pm to 7 am, let them onto some pasture (we 'lure' them out by moving food/water outside, and take them out to 10-11 weeks (no more than 13 or so). You'll get nice big 7-9 lbs dressed chickens that had a good life! Our last ones were Cornish X (aka feathered meatbags per our son...they are pretty non-chickeny....they just sit around and eat!) were all roosters and they were ready by 10 weeks, but we took them another week and on average they were 7 lbs dressed and the biggest was 13 lbs live weight.


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Old 09-02-2011, 04:20 PM
 
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I don't buy organic. I do buy a lot of staples and cook and bake from scratch though. I make my own yogurt, granola, breads, soups, desserts, salad dressings, vanilla etc. I also have an organic vegetable garden. This is an affordable way for me to eat healthy.

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