Organics (expensive) vs. Conventionals (inexpensive)

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RJ
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Organics (expensive) vs. Conventionals (inexpensive)

Postby RJ » Sun Apr 15, 2007 1:07 pm

I'm wondering if anyone else struggles a bit with choosing between organic/near-organic foods (usually expensive) and conventional foods (usually inexpensive). Are there some foods that you will only eat organic? Other organic foods that you'd like to purchase, but that you simply cannot get yourself to buy due to cost? Any tips on how to emphasize organics or near-organics while still being frugal?

I've been shaping up my diet over the years, and that includes greater interest in organics, sustainable foods, low-fat foods, and unprocessed or gently processed foods (no HFCS, etc.). But I still cannot get myself to pay $6 for 8 oz. of organic strawberries when a 16 oz. container of conventional strawberries sells for $2.50.... Intellectually, I know it's healthier and more eco-friendly to buy the pesticide-free organics, but still....

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Postby Fillanzea » Sun Apr 15, 2007 2:41 pm

There's a list of the top ten most toxic foods-- the foods that it may be most helpful to buy organic.
--http://www.thegreenguide.com/doc/BGG2/topten
Personally, I'm a little horrified at the way chickens are raised, so I buy cage-free eggs, and I buy some organic apples because I eat a lot of apples. For other produce, I'm fairly price-conscious, and I don't go out of my way to buy organic. On the other hand, organic vs. non-organic isn't always the best comparison. For example, if you eat a lot of processed and pre-prepared foods, eating organic may actually be cheaper than that even if it's not cheaper than non-organic produce.
(However-- organic pre-prepared foods, of course, can be ridiculously expensive).

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Postby alio » Sun Apr 15, 2007 5:39 pm

After reading "Fast Food Nation" we've made a real effort to buy only free-range, hormone/antibiotic-free chicken and turkey. We didn't eat beef/pork to begin with, but that would also be an area I would pay more for just for peace of mind. Also buy cage-free eggs. It just feels better to me to know that my family isn't consuming something that has either been treated badly or injected with who-knows-what before it reaches our table, even if it costs a bit more. It is kind of upsetting, though, when the local supermarket has a two-for-one sale on the regular chicken and we're paying three times as much for ONE of the free-range chickens.

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Postby RJ » Thu Apr 19, 2007 7:46 pm

Thanks for the replies-- I've decided to choose organic for the items on the list, and I'll strongly consider organic for other items. I've been reading "What to Eat" by Marion Nestle, and she also recommends buying certain items (apples, strawberries, etc.) organic.

I've also been buying cage-free eggs lately, though I wonder if the hens are really treated better than caged hens. (Are they encouraged to leave the building?) I used some organic beef the other day, and it was outstanding, so I'll definitely explore organic meats and poultry a bit more.

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Postby mebored81 » Thu Apr 19, 2007 9:14 pm

I try to buy as much organic food as possible. The cheapest way to buy organic vegetables is to find a group or visit local producers. In most cases this is the same as you would be paying a supermarket. For everything else I find the best way is to buy one or two items that are organic and slowly build up from there. Yes it will cost you more but the benefits in the long term outway our short term loss

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Postby onebigmortarboard » Fri Apr 20, 2007 7:20 am

Keep in mind that buying organic foods just to buy organic foods might involve purchases from large-scale collectives hundreds of miles away. This bears a notable cost in terms of fuel consumed and the amount of packaging required.

You might want to check into local farmer's markets or CSA's and ask about their growing practices. And there are always food sprays to remove the residue (although I suspect you could mix up lemon juice, baking soda, and water to get the same result).

The local paper just recently highlighted this resource, although I haven't spent much time on the site:

http://www.localharvest.org/

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CSA's

Postby Jely520 » Fri Apr 20, 2007 8:50 am

I highly recommend joining a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). I just picked up our bi-weekly box last night, and it was gorgeous! There was HUGE green onions, 2 heads of lettuce, 3 mid-sized boxes of gorgeous and delicious strawberries (!!), an avocado, chard.....great stuff, all of it absolutely at the peak of its growth. We pay $26 every other week for a large box of produce. Not only do you get to stick with wonderful, locally-grown produce, but its also (I have to say supposedly.....) better for you because of the better quality soil that the produce is grown in.

The link that onebigmortarboard gave, http://www.localharvest.org is a wonderful source of local farmers and local farmers market. This is where we found the ranch that has the CSA that we joined.

Just as a quick side (as if I'm ever quick and concise...), be wary of some of the sellers at farmers market. Some of them do buy their consumables from large retailers and then sell it where people have the assumption that its local.....So please do be aware.

On another note, I only buy my meat from Whole Foods now. And it is expensive....disgustingly so....but then I'm not getting the antibiotics and the corn-grown beef. I'm getting grass-fed (not just finished) beef, chicken and turkey that is the best I've had in a long time. I think it is totally worth the expense if you can afford it. Heck, cut down on meat consumption (says the nutritionist!) to afford this if you have to.....

:D

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Mike Panic
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Postby Mike Panic » Fri Apr 20, 2007 10:53 am

When I can, I do, but the price point is still a killer for me.

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jdroth
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Postby jdroth » Fri Apr 20, 2007 9:36 pm

Though I prefer organic, we rarely specifically buy organic. We try to avoid processed foods, and we buy local as much as possible. Fortunately, this helps set us up for a lot of organic produce. We also grow a lot of our own veggies, so summertime is very organic for us! :)

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Postby lostmind » Sat Apr 21, 2007 10:44 am

I've been on a healthy living kick for the past 4 years or so (with a small relapse into too much eating out and lazy eating the past 9 months or so that I'm working on now). At first I was focused solely on weight, at 210lbs and 5'8" I didn't feel very good. Once I got in shape, 170lbs or so, I started to worry about my nutritional health.

I started to look into organic foods (I had already eliminated a lot of pre-processed foods from my diet) and because I thought it couldn't cost too much more and I shouldn't put a price tag on my health, I switched my diet up to eat mostly organic, including only wild caught fish etc. It was good, some organic foods definitely taste better (grass fed beef I can eat rarer, it tastes amazing and apparently is just as healthy for your as fish in terms of the healthy fats but at over $35/lb compared to regular beef ranging from $12-18/lb) and in my mind I felt better about my eating.

Then I tallied up what my diet cost me, even using coupons and shopping for deals... for two people (my wife is a small eater too!) I was spending close to $800 (cad) each month on food. That was about 10 months ago... it waas one of the factors that made me kind of give up on my health for a while. Of course, now I am not feeling too great lately and plan to work it off again. This time around I think I am going to ignore organic except for fruits and any meat I can get at a decent price. I don't want to spend more then ~$350 a month in groceries.

I am planning on getting into a CSA up here, but it isn't exactly cheap either (although much cheaper then buying in stores, they seem to cost $750 for veggies during the summer months, I guess due to our shorter growing season?). Paying $30/lb for grass fed beef versus $12/lb for regular beef... it's a tough call.

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Postby cswiii » Sun Apr 22, 2007 2:10 pm

Do you live near a Trader Joes? In addition to a terrific shopping experience, they have very competitive prices -- a gallon of (non-organic) milk is cheaper at the TJs near us than at Target -- and they have a wonderful selection of organic products. It may help lessen the price point pain.

We moved to NC about two years ago and were thrilled when a TJs finally opened up down here. Given the crowds I see in the place, I don't think we're the only ones.

http://www.traderjoes.com/

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Postby will0957 » Sun Apr 22, 2007 4:18 pm

cswiii wrote:Do you live near a Trader Joes? In addition to a terrific shopping experience, they have very competitive prices -- a gallon of (non-organic) milk is cheaper at the TJs near us than at Target -- and they have a wonderful selection of organic products. It may help lessen the price point pain.

We moved to NC about two years ago and were thrilled when a TJs finally opened up down here. Given the crowds I see in the place, I don't think we're the only ones.

http://www.traderjoes.com/


Great to hear!! I am moving at the end of this month, and my new apartment is within a few hundred feet of a Trader Joe's. I haven't been in the place yet but I was looking forward to checking it out.

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Postby sandycheeks » Sun Apr 22, 2007 4:58 pm

Instead of buying organic, I try to grow things that we eat. It's a lot cheaper to eat whatever is in season from my garden. Granted, the variety is lacking, but there is nothing better than food still warm from the vine.

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Postby jdroth » Sun Apr 22, 2007 5:37 pm

<b>@lostmind</b>

That was about 10 months ago... it waas one of the factors that made me kind of give up on my health for a while.


Yeah, that's a tough call. To me, your health is your most important asset, so I don't think you should ever "give up" on it. It should always be your top priority, because without it you have nothing. But it sounds as if you might have gone so far over to the healthy side that it was hurting your finances. Now, we could debate whether it's actually possible to eat <i>too</i> healthfully, but in your case, it was obviously causing issues in other areas.

I think the key to reducing food costs in your case, is to make compromises without totally giving up. That is, maybe forego the organic veggies, etc., but don't revert to processed foods. Since I reduced my intake of processed foods last fall, I've felt much better. (I don't have them eliminated yet, but I'm trying!)

Also, as somebody suggested, you might try growing some of your own vegetables depending on where you are in Canada...

Good luck!

RJ
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Postby RJ » Sun Apr 22, 2007 7:50 pm

Organics are definitely more expensive, but the more I read, the more I'm convinced that it's best to include at least some organics in the diet. So far I'm emphasizing the fruits and veggies that I eat the most of, but I've also been trying organics eggs and beef.

And sometimes I'm pleasantly surprised by prices: my local supermarket has organic apples at $2 for a 3-pound bag, and organic carrots were $1.99 per bunch.

I suppose that on some things, such as berries, a good compromise may be to buy organics 1/3 of the time and regular 2/3 of the time--sort of like dollar cost averaging.


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