Going, Going….Gone! (Organic!)

I could fill a phone book listin’ all the ways that MaryJane Butters has influenced my life!  The biggest change has to be my family going organic in the foods we eat.  But, in these tough times, how does a typical Suburban family go organic yet stick to a budget? I’ll tell you how…

At first, I was skeptical when it came to organics, thinking, “If it’s on the shelves, it must be fine!”  “Health” conscious, I thought we ate well, but after reading MaryJanes Farm Magazine, I became more aware of what really was in my food.  Pesticides, additives, and chemicals were in almost everything we ate!  I learned that with a Standard American Diet, once a child reaches five years old, he/she will have eaten seven pounds of additives!

Fate had a hand in me finding MaryJanesFarm early 2010.  For months, starting in 2009, I was sick – frequently. My family was constantly on antibiotics, “regulars” at the doctor’s office, one illness or cold, one after another.  Then, I read my first MaryJanesFarm Magazine, and my life changed.

Going organic was gradual.  At first, I just wanted to earn a Merit Badge!  I hadn’t planned on changing our lifestyle.  Not sure where to start, I went with produce.  Onions, of all things!  Cutting them, they looked good – no ring of residue I noticed inside “conventional’ onions.  As I ran out of something, I’d replace it with the organic version…and as I did, we ate and felt better.   Now, we have more energy and are hardly ever sick.  Each year, my daughter missed up to three weeks of school being sick.  Since going organic, in a year and a half, she’s missed ONE DAY!  Our pediatrician thought  we’d changed doctors since we hadn’t been in for so long!

Soon, my home was 100% organic.  I also had to stay in my budget.  And I do.

I don’t shop at one place, but don’t run crazy, either.  By buying store brand organics, I save on basics such as canned beans, butter, and milk.  Most of my shopping’s done at Shoprite, a mainstream store with a lot of organics.  Do your research.  Go to your favorite grocer, but buy organic whenever you can. Most stores have a savings card, and by using it, you are sending messages about what you buy. The more people buy organic, the more the stores will carry it. When I use my savings card, I get store coupons at the end of the sale with my receipt.  More and more, those coupons are for organics!  Costco also now carries organics.  I’ve found organic eggs, toast bread, organic granola bars, olive oil, sugar, and chicken to be inexpensive there.  Trader Joes, another store, has the lowest price on tomatoes, lemons, frozen spinach and organic mayonnaise.  I love Whole Foods for baking needs such as organic flour, and breads when I can’t find the time to make my own.  The trick to staying on budget is knowing where to go for what.  On my fridge, I keep a running list of what’s needed.  Don’t go to a store just for one item.  I  go to Whole foods, the farthest from home, bi-monthly, but Shoprite and  Costco weekly, and on the same day.  I “stock up” on non-perishables, sales, or items  I can freeze.  You don’t want to use up all your gas driving everywhere at once!  I recently found Fair Trade organic coffee on sale at Target.  Keep your eyes open and know what’s a good price!  I love MaryJanes’ beef, and order  in bulk a couple times a year.  In summer, I buy my produce at our local Organic Farmers’ Market.  In an ideal world, I’d buy everything from small businesses and locally, but right now, I do the best I can.  For us, it’s buying organic.

Use coupons, but only if it’s cheaper than the store brand to do so.  Many times, there’s a coupon right on the product!  I take advantage of the “Buy two, Get a Dollar Off Now!” coupons whenever I can.  Most brands have websites, often with printable coupons and offers. Try  http://www.organicvalley.coop/, and http://cascadianfarm.com/.

Eating organic doesn’t mean being deprived – at all!   My daughter used to want those little packaged processed muffins she’d see other kids have.  I make my own little snack muffins, and she adores ’em!  I use the recipe for “Healthy Corn Doggies”, page 83 of  MaryJane’s Outpost, making mine with mixed veggies, baking them in mini-muffin tins. We  also like the occasional “sandwich cookie” from Late July brand, or indulge in organic tortilla chips and salsa.

MaryJane’s Healthy Corn Doggies – my daughter’s favorite lunchbox or after school snack.

If you’ve wanted to eat organic, but thought it couldn’t fit your budget, try it.  I bet before long, you’ll be going, going… GONE ORGANIC!

  1. Rebecca says:

    Thanks for the great post. I have been wanting to go organic and just haven’t got going yet. Your post has got me inspired to start today. Thanks for the encouragement and I enjoy reading your blog posts.

    Rebecca, I think it’s getting easier to find organics.  I see it in the stores more and more, and just recently found a restaurant with organic food!  (After going organic, we don’t like to eat out – we’d rather eat at home since we have such good food in the kitchen!)  Good luck going organic, it makes  such an amazing difference, and thank you for reading.  -Nicole

  2. Lee-Ann Lally says:

    I agree, in Calgary we have a great organization called green Calgary. They have a Health Homes Program that will assist homeowners with making changes to lessen their environmental impact. They have a handy list for those of us transitioning to organic produce, that lists the most highly contaminated produce vs. those with less pesticides. This is a great tool if the costs of going 100% organic seem prohibitive. This list is available from http://www.foodnews.org.

    Lee-Ann, thanks for sharing! I have heard of the "Dirty Dozen and the Clean Fifteen", which is a list of veggies and fruits that have the most and least amount of pesticide residue on them.  Strawberries top the list, and I read that a conventional strawberry can have residue of up to seventy-five different chemical pesticides!  -Nicole

  3. Hi Nicole, what a great post that gives me hope. I’ve been reading MaryJane’s Farm for a while. I love it! I’m mesmerized by the choices everyone featured in the magazine makes. I’m trying to change so much about what my family eats–it’s a hard thing to do..from the specialized shopping, the cost, the change of perspective on cooking. But, reading your article makes me think I can actually do it. A little at a time. Thanks.

  4. Linda says:

    Great article
    We have gradually gone organic as well. Now when we eat conventional processed foods, usually at a party, we can surely tell the difference.
    One of the biggest taste differences is in organic grapes. Conventional grapes always felt "funny" on my tongue, even though I washed them. We tried the organic, and now crave them, they are so good. Sweet and snappy. Yum!

    Linda, you are so right, we can tell the difference when we eat conventional foods, too.  A good trick to do after eating conventional foods (or if you’ve eaten too much chocolate) is to drink three glasses of water afterwards to flush your system.  I learned that from MaryJane, and it does help!  Thanks for reading! -Nicole

  5. sue says:

    Learning to eat differently from mainstream America has been a real eye opener for my family. When my son was diagnosed with Chrons disease our whole life changed. Reading labels, shopping organic, at first was a real chore because the grocery stores hadn’t caught onto the idea yet. Then Earth Fare came to town. Suddenly it was much easier to get the right kinds of food.I am happy to say there have been no hospital visits for well over a year. It is truly amazing what a good diet will do for a person.

    Wow! It is amazing, isn’t it?  Thanks for sharing!  -Nicole

  6. Ann says:

    CSAs. Farmer’s markets are good, CSAs can often be a better deal. And you can split it with another family if it is too much for you.

    -Those are great!  Unfortunately, in our area they were either too far or have a huge waiting list.  But, I love my garden, and my Organic Farmers Market.   Thanks for reminding everyone about CSA’s!  -Nicole

  7. This is a great article. My father and I are in between jobs, so eating healthy/organic is a challenge. One thing we do for sure, is make all meals at home now. That’s a good first step. We also buy organic whenever we can. Thanks for all the tips and hints here 🙂 🙂 🙂 One thing I’ve noticed, is that the organic food is better quality. Also, since it’s better quality, I don’t have to eat as much. There’s also lots organic farms in the area, so it’s easy to get hold of organic produce. That’s something to be thankful for 🙂 Love and hugs from Oregon, Heather – Farmgirl Sisterhood member #2176

    -Heather, thanks again for reading.  Hope you and your father find jobs soon.  You are so right about the organic food being better quality, and good food does satisfy so much more than processed.  Another budget saving tip I can pass on is to use less meat and more veggies.  For example, I’ll make my chili recipe with one pound of ground beef as opposed to two, and make up for it with an extra can of beans.  Hang in there, Heather!  Farmgirl hugs, Nicole

  8. Marji says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for writing about this issue. I too was sick all the time before going organic. I was probably spending 6 months worth of groceries costs on all the medicines I was taking to fix what the doctors thought was wrong with me. After doing my own research, going organic was the only thing left for me to do. It’s been 2 years now. No medications, no doctor calls and more energy than ever. All the chemicals that are in foods have to be taking their toll on humans. I figure that even if there is a little increased cost in the price of organic foods, the health benefits are worth it. Thanks again for sharing your experience.

  9. Helena says:

    Thank you for making me realize that going organic doesn’t have to be an "all or nothing" endeavor right from the start. I’ve always assumed we could not afford to do it, but I see if I plan it little by little and go about it in a smart way, we can make the transition. I am growing my own veggies and herbs now, and are also getting chickens for eggs in a few weeks, so that is a start. But I will begin to pay attention when I’m shopping and look for organic goods. Thanks much! xoxoxo Helena

  10. Tess Sole says:

    Dear Nicole- Our family has been buying organic foods a little more at a time but I’ve also been diagnosed as gluten-sensitive. It’s sometimes hard to find organic versions of gluten free foods. Meanwhile, as you say, every little bit helps and we are trying to do more and more. Thank you for the suggestions on saving money with less running around. I really enjoy your blog. Thanks, Tess from Portland, OR.

  11. Arielle says:

    Such an inspiration. Harry and I love your blog!

  12. Adrienne says:

    I went vegetarian in 1998 because I spent some time with my great aunt Estelle who had been a vegetarian since 1935. She was so healthy and so vibrant that I had to know more. Then I went local and organic, and am very lucky to be surrounded by farmers markets almost every day of the week (San Francisco). I’m disabled and walk with a cane. The volunteers at the markets will take my list and bring the produce back to me so I don’t have to walk very far. The O line of organic products at Safeway is the result of customer feedback. Also where I live are several companies that will deliver a box of seasonal produce to your door weekly or on a schedule of your choice. Organic is the way to go!

  13. Brenda says:

    I am trying to eat more healthy and we always put out a garden, but most of the organic stuff at the store is more expensive. I have read Maryjane’s magazine and I have a couple of her books. After reading them you have to try to be more organic. Guess it’s time to try harder. Thanks for your input.

  14. Shery says:

    Loved your new blog entry. I haven’t gone entirely organic, but I lean heavily that way. It is interesting that you saw such a difference in your daughter’s health and in such a short time. Excellent testimony. Better to spend your $$$ on organic foods than doctoring! May I add a thing about eggs? I bought my first chickens in 1995 "just because". I learned later as I got deeper into poultry info that the only reason store-bought eggs have yellow (delicate) yolks is due the hen’s feed having yellow dye in it. If it didn’t, the eggs would be a grayish tan. Bon Apetit` ;o[ Anyone who has free range poultry knows that their hen’s eggs are HARDY … the shells are thicker, the whites are not runny and you usually have to poke the yolk a few times if you want it broken. And, the color of the yolks when the hens get plenty of green food is the same color as the skin of an orange. ‘Taint no wonder they’re so much better for you.

    Thanks for a good message and reminder!
    Shery J

    Shery, You are so right about the eggs!  We noticed how "tough" the shells of organic eggs are, and they taste so much better, too!  Thanks for reading! -Nicole

  15. Gerri Moore says:

    Since we grow most of our vegetables, we are organic and we love to get it from our freezer in winter. So easy and good. Thanks for all the information you supply- that helps tremendously. Look forward to next time.

    Gerri, thanks for reading!  -Nicole

  16. Roseanne says:

    Started going organic January of 2010, I couldn’t believe the energy and feeling of well-being. Then because of travel, I had to eat out frequently and didn’t have the organic options. Back came the same old feelings of tiredness, etc. Now getting back to organic living and hope to stay there. Growing organic in my garden and the local store has more and more organic products (Ingles). Live in the mountains of North Ga so it’s a hundred-mile trip to Atlanta and Harry’s and Trader Joes. Just have to really plan ahead.
    Thanks for your great writing. Roseanne

  17. Mary says:

    I’ve been buying as much as I can organic for years. My daughter and I are almost never sick as were her older brothers when they were still living at home. When my daughter was 8 I mentioned "the doctor" and she said, "Do we have a doctor?" She hadn’t been to the doctor for years. My husband gets sick more often, and he eats less organically minded. I buy grains, seed, nuts and many other things from two food co-ops that will come to my door. One is Frontier; the other is a Pittsburgh, PA, company called Frankferd Farms. You must watch prices, even in your regular grocery store. Sometimes the organic is actually less expensive than the non-organic.

    Mary, you are so right!  I’ve seen several times the organic is actually cheaper than the conventional.  -Nicole

  18. Rose says:

    Thanks for the idea on how to start eating organic. I would be overwhelmed to have to buy everything organic. Your idea to just start with a few things at a time sounds like a great plan. I will look for organic fruits and vegetables this summer.

  19. Lori says:

    I too have been working on going organic. FYI, if you have a Winco grocery store, they have bulk organic products at great prices. (Oatmeal, granola, nuts and such.)Also bagged organic apples. My DR recommended the change to organic because I started having hormone issues. (period every 2 weeks..yuck!)
    It totally put me back on schedule. There is something to that organic stuff!

  20. Lora says:

    Be careful about organics. If they’re from China stay away from them, they have no standards and can be imported without being inspected. Also, excellent sandwich cookies are made by Country Choice. I LOVE the Ginger Lemon flavor : )

    I think it is wise advice to be careful with anything we purchase.  Thanks for reading!  -Nicole

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