Organic is the Gold Standard
Who says eating organic has to be expensive? Everyone does. (Everyone but me, anyway.) If you’ve ever shopped at a Whole Foods Market (I rarely do) your opinion is certainly warranted.
As more and more of my friends are making the switch to a whole foods plant-based diet, they are looking to ‘organic’ not only to maximize those plant health benefits (no pesticide residue) but minimize impacts on the soil (think herbicides, fertilizers) as well. Organic is not always the answer, but most times it is.
Produce prices in the organic section of the grocery can be enough to make you faint. I do like what these stores are doing for the organic world, but it may not be necessary to spend five times more for a thing you can get cheaper somewhere else. Just cut out the middle man.
I’m talking about local farmers. Buying organic when you can is just the right thing to do. Aside from the immediate health benefits of ingesting veggies without all the chemicals attached to them, they are generally grown from healthy soil, the solid foundation of any health food. Buying directly from the grower — rather than paying your grocer to do business with him for you — has benefits as well. You may even discover that in addition to feeling good on the inside and for your budget, you’ll feel good in your heart as well. In my house, it’s just how we roll.
Today was a particularly fruitful day. (Pun intended.) Bubba, our local farmer, tends the earth in a 5-acre tract around his home with seasonal produce — free from pesticides and chemical fertilizers. Technically, he cannot ‘label’ his produce as organic, but I know the truth. I’ve seen it with my own eyes and approve of his methods.
Indeed, he loves his soil as much I love mine. And his yield proves it.
That’s not just good for my soul or my body, it’s also good for my pocketbook, and helps me keep to a $150/week grocery budget. (Yes! I can do this with a family of six!)
From Farm To Fridge
Developing a personal relationship with your local farmer, is like growing your family. When I have a glut of figs or tomatoes, guess who I take them to? That’s right…Bubba. And when he has a glut of potatoes or butternut squash, he throws a few into the boot at no extra charge. We sample breads from his kitchen, jellies he’s made, and he tries out soups and entrees made with 100% plants, many from his own garden. Sometimes, we just come and sit with his 90-yr-old momma for a while to give her some company and help her to forget the arthritis pain for just a little while.
Most visits, I even learn tried-and-true techniques from an old-timer on how to do things better in my own garden, without the aid of pesticides, fertilizers, or the general fuss and micro-managing that goes on with most backyard gardener varieties.
Here’s what I got this day for just $11 and some gas:
- kohlrabi (3)
- romaine lettuce heads (6)
- bunches of carrots (2)
- bunches of beets (2)
- full bag of mustard greens
- full bag of kale
Getting “local” is a great way to squash (another pun?) soaring food costs. Grocery chains have their place too, but a company who gets to sell to one of those chains must go through the trouble — and cost — of putting an organic label on it. In that way, you can pretty much kiss your hard-earned money goodbye, even if it is for a good cause.
Get What You Get And Don’t Throw A Fit
When buying from a local farmer, remember that you get what you get. Don’t be picky and choose ‘pretty’ fruits. You must remember that each plant also has its season. You can pay the hefty premium for out-of-season veggies at the grocery (air fuel is expensive!). In the best of situations, grocery veggies average a 1,500 mile trip. Local is where it’s at.
Another way to maximize food dollars is to to eat all the parts that are edible; here is a quick look-up for your convenience. When you use all the parts, it’s like a two-fer for dinner: the roast beet root warmed as a side dish, the tops of beets mixed with salad greens. Try Jean-François’ Purée of the Whole Danged Carrot Soup. You will enjoy freshness all while eliminating wastefulness. What’s not to like?
Find your very own organic veggie farmer or farmer’s market. Put in your zip code at www.LocalHarvest.org to see who is in your vicinity. If you’re lucky like us, the weekly trip to ‘stock up the fridge’ could double as a ‘nice country drive’ as well.
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