Author Topic: How much is too much for organic produce?  (Read 12080 times)

Louis the Cat

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How much is too much for organic produce?
« on: January 27, 2015, 09:38:41 AM »
My DH and I are assessing our grocery spending which we know is insane ($1000-$1200 per month for a family of 4). One of our luxuries in this category is a weekly box of fresh, organic produce delivered to our door. For this privilege, we pay $36.44 (the actual charge on my CC statement) per week. This keeps all of us in fresh produce and aside from the occasional bag of onions and veggies from our garden, we buy no other produce. This breaks down to $1.30 per person per day. It is important to us to eat organic because we are feeding two young brains (twins who turn 4 tomorrow and who, incidentally, eat like adults) and I have a sensitive stomach that has been a lot less sensitive since improving the overall quality of my diet, organic produce being one piece of the puzzle. Also, the delivery service keeps us out of the grocery store and we have noticed a direct correlation between the number of trips to the store and the amount of money we spend. (Fewer large trips cost less in total than many small trips.) We do waste the occasional pepper or cucumber that gets lost in the fridge but largely manage to eat it all in a timely fashion. Am I simply defending the indefensible or is this a reasonable allocation of our resources?

Jersey

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Re: How much is too much for organic produce?
« Reply #1 on: January 27, 2015, 09:50:43 AM »
I do not think $1.30 per person/day is that overpriced for produce. You still have $1000 worth of groceries to cut. There must be a ton of meat in there which is going to be much higher in price than vegetables.

Heart of Tin

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Re: How much is too much for organic produce?
« Reply #2 on: January 27, 2015, 09:51:42 AM »
How much is that per pound? I try to keep my (usually non-organic) produce below $1.50 per pound all together.

I don't personally value organic produce since I know that organic certification still allows natural pesticides and fertilizers to be used, and I have no way of knowing how random grocery store produce was grown. In my mind any organic produce that is more expensive than its non-organic counterpart is too expensive. However, you need to decide for yourself where that line is for your family. I don't think the rest of us can make that decision for you.

theonethatgotaway

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Re: How much is too much for organic produce?
« Reply #3 on: January 27, 2015, 09:58:07 AM »
Well even if you are spending 36 per week on organic produce, it looks like your family is consuming LOADS of processed foods for your monthly bill to be 1k+ (whether eating out or eating in). So that makes your organic efforts a bit null in the calculations of health benefit.

Please correct me if I'm wrong. I'm genuinely interested in what percentage of healthy food is purchased out of a 1.2k budget when only 150 roughly is spent on organic veggies.

I found a local chef that charges 250 per day plus costs of groceries to come and make a weeks worth of healthy meals for a family of three (to keep in fridge/freezer). That might be a better alternative for your spending.


Louis the Cat

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Re: How much is too much for organic produce?
« Reply #4 on: January 27, 2015, 10:06:51 AM »
Where the rest of the budget is going is a great question. We're actually in the midst of a 3 month quest to keep ALL grocery receipts and break it down by individual items at the end and assess. We do eat a lot of organic meat, usually one meal a day but believe it or not, we buy almost no processed foods. My guess is that the top three categories are going to be meat, dairy, and produce. We eat pasta a couple of times a week and rice a couple more. The rest of the family consumes an incredible amount of cereal and I'm not sure how to substitute that. Might try the girls on oatmeal. I refuse to eat oatmeal after being traumatized by my father as a child, not sure what DH's position on it is. That $1000-$1200 also includes toiletries and household items like toilet paper, batteries, etc. All from Costco, most the cheapest option purchased in bulk.

Mr. Frugalwoods

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Re: How much is too much for organic produce?
« Reply #5 on: January 27, 2015, 10:08:11 AM »
Our solution is to go organic for produce and just cut out most meat.  Good meat is exhorbitantly expensive.

FLBiker

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Re: How much is too much for organic produce?
« Reply #6 on: January 27, 2015, 10:15:15 AM »
Our solution is to go organic for produce and just cut out most meat.  Good meat is exhorbitantly expensive.
We do a similar thing.  We are basically vegetarian, with occasional wild Pacific salmon / sardines.  The CSA you're doing is less than $150 a month -- it isn't the primary reason you're spending so much on groceries.

And oatmeal is a great breakfast solution.  I eat it 5 or more days a week.  My current "recipe" is a scoop of peanut butter, a banana, and raspberry jalapeno jelly.  For a while I was on a savory kick with peanut butter, a fried banana, soy sauce, chili sauce and fried onions.

theonethatgotaway

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Re: How much is too much for organic produce?
« Reply #7 on: January 27, 2015, 10:25:25 AM »
"My current "recipe" is a scoop of peanut butter, a banana, and raspberry jalapeno jelly.  For a while I was on a savory kick with peanut butter, a fried banana, soy sauce, chili sauce and fried onions."

You put all of that in Oatmeal?!

I read that oatmeal is bad for you and stopped eating it a few years ago. Is this really the case or have I been duped?

Señora Savings

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Re: How much is too much for organic produce?
« Reply #8 on: January 27, 2015, 11:03:01 AM »
Where the rest of the budget is going is a great question. We're actually in the midst of a 3 month quest to keep ALL grocery receipts and break it down by individual items at the end and assess. We do eat a lot of organic meat, usually one meal a day but believe it or not, we buy almost no processed foods. My guess is that the top three categories are going to be meat, dairy, and produce. We eat pasta a couple of times a week and rice a couple more. The rest of the family consumes an incredible amount of cereal and I'm not sure how to substitute that. Might try the girls on oatmeal. I refuse to eat oatmeal after being traumatized by my father as a child, not sure what DH's position on it is. That $1000-$1200 also includes toiletries and household items like toilet paper, batteries, etc. All from Costco, most the cheapest option purchased in bulk.

Cereal is processed food.  Look at your grocery spending and re-categorize anything that comes covered in plastic and requires no preparation/microwave only as processed food.

Looking at the groceries and stop counting robot food with your people food is a good idea.  This will let you know if you have a consumer crap problem or a food spending problem.

(Fewer large trips cost less in total than many small trips.)

Every time you go to the store you buy crap that you don't need.  Next time, look at your cart before you check out and identify the crap you don't need, then don't buy it.

Scandium

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Re: How much is too much for organic produce?
« Reply #9 on: January 27, 2015, 11:23:47 AM »
It is important to us to eat organic because we are feeding two young brains...

Can you cite the scientific study behind this reasoning?

Louis the Cat

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Re: How much is too much for organic produce?
« Reply #10 on: January 27, 2015, 11:37:00 AM »
It is important to us to eat organic because we are feeding two young brains...

Can you cite the scientific study behind this reasoning?

Nope, you're absolutely right, I can't. I'm just wary of eating chemicals. It just seems like a bad idea. And yes, I know processed foods are full of chemicals. We have been working our way away from processed foods but obviously haven't cut out everything yet.

On that subject, I understand what you're saying, SS, but I'm not scratch cooking every meal (we do scratch cook dinner every night and lunch is usually leftovers). Mornings are tough for me as a night owl with early bird children. At the moment, cereal is the best option because DH can throw it on the table before he leaves in the morning (before anyone else is up). Yogurt is also a favorite but can't be left sitting out. Among other things, the cat will eat it.

Heart of Tin

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Re: How much is too much for organic produce?
« Reply #11 on: January 27, 2015, 11:47:02 AM »
In my experience kids love scrambled eggs, and that is typically less expensive than a bowl of cereal. It only takes three or four minutes to make a big pan of scrambled eggs for everyone, and you have four dishes, a bowl, a whisk, a pan, and a spatula. Just something to think about and try.

Oh and cover your food with a lid if you're afraid the cat will eat it.
« Last Edit: January 27, 2015, 11:50:41 AM by Heart of Tin »

4alpacas

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Re: How much is too much for organic produce?
« Reply #12 on: January 27, 2015, 11:50:52 AM »
It is important to us to eat organic because we are feeding two young brains...

Can you cite the scientific study behind this reasoning?

Nope, you're absolutely right, I can't. I'm just wary of eating chemicals. It just seems like a bad idea. And yes, I know processed foods are full of chemicals. We have been working our way away from processed foods but obviously haven't cut out everything yet.

On that subject, I understand what you're saying, SS, but I'm not scratch cooking every meal (we do scratch cook dinner every night and lunch is usually leftovers). Mornings are tough for me as a night owl with early bird children. At the moment, cereal is the best option because DH can throw it on the table before he leaves in the morning (before anyone else is up). Yogurt is also a favorite but can't be left sitting out. Among other things, the cat will eat it.
Could you make breakfast smoothies at night?  What about homemade granola bars made in bulk on the weekends?  Or breakfast "cookies" with oatmeal?  Or a fruit salad (cut up in advance)?

If you're wary of eating "chemicals," then I think you should reconsider cereal.  Most of the organic or "healthy" cereals have a lot of preservatives and sugar/sweeteners.  As a former cereal addict, I understand how easy it is to reach for cereal in the morning.  It takes a while to reprogram your morning routine, but there are cheaper, healthier options. 

I understand not wanting to cook every meal from scratch, but I would consider bulk cooking on the weekends. 

Louis the Cat

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Re: How much is too much for organic produce?
« Reply #13 on: January 27, 2015, 12:00:08 PM »
Thanks for all the thoughts! I could easily see making individual servings of yogurt (why a lid didn't occur to me we're going to stay far away from) and I love the breakfast "cookies" idea. Heck, if I can find a product that can stand up to abuse, I might use something like that for backpacking breakfasts. My problem with scrambled eggs is it makes a mess out of the pan which then needs to be soaked and scrubbed. You're all absolutely right about cereal; too bad DH made a cereal run yesterday...

Scandium

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Re: How much is too much for organic produce?
« Reply #14 on: January 27, 2015, 12:14:30 PM »
It is important to us to eat organic because we are feeding two young brains...

Can you cite the scientific study behind this reasoning?

Nope, you're absolutely right, I can't. I'm just wary of eating chemicals. It just seems like a bad idea. And yes, I know processed foods are full of chemicals. We have been working our way away from processed foods but obviously haven't cut out everything yet.

On that subject, I understand what you're saying, SS, but I'm not scratch cooking every meal (we do scratch cook dinner every night and lunch is usually leftovers). Mornings are tough for me as a night owl with early bird children. At the moment, cereal is the best option because DH can throw it on the table before he leaves in the morning (before anyone else is up). Yogurt is also a favorite but can't be left sitting out. Among other things, the cat will eat it.

Which chemicals? What dosage are you worried about? Organic vs "non-organic" (a silly term) produce is chemically identical. They both use fertilizer and pesticides, just different ones. So which exactly is the problem? E.g apples contain cyanide. This is a perfectly natural chemical..

To answer you question; I don't think organic produce is worth it. Scientific studies has found no nutritional or health benefit. I avoid buying organic as much as possible. I get mad when the store is out of bananas so I have to buy organic ones at 2x the price.

Louis the Cat

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Re: How much is too much for organic produce?
« Reply #15 on: January 27, 2015, 01:49:31 PM »
Which chemicals? What dosage are you worried about? Organic vs "non-organic" (a silly term) produce is chemically identical. They both use fertilizer and pesticides, just different ones. So which exactly is the problem? E.g apples contain cyanide. This is a perfectly natural chemical..

To answer you question; I don't think organic produce is worth it. Scientific studies has found no nutritional or health benefit. I avoid buying organic as much as possible. I get mad when the store is out of bananas so I have to buy organic ones at 2x the price.

I'm not worried about the chemicals IN the food, I'm worried about the chemicals ON the food. I agree that organic isn't nutritionally superior but I have no interest in eating pesticides. I know pesticides and fertilizers are used on organics as well but they have to meet a certain standard and aside from growing it all myself which is time consuming, this is the compromise I've reached.

Scandium

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Re: How much is too much for organic produce?
« Reply #16 on: January 27, 2015, 01:57:33 PM »
Which chemicals? What dosage are you worried about? Organic vs "non-organic" (a silly term) produce is chemically identical. They both use fertilizer and pesticides, just different ones. So which exactly is the problem? E.g apples contain cyanide. This is a perfectly natural chemical..

To answer you question; I don't think organic produce is worth it. Scientific studies has found no nutritional or health benefit. I avoid buying organic as much as possible. I get mad when the store is out of bananas so I have to buy organic ones at 2x the price.

I'm not worried about the chemicals IN the food, I'm worried about the chemicals ON the food. I agree that organic isn't nutritionally superior but I have no interest in eating pesticides. I know pesticides and fertilizers are used on organics as well but they have to meet a certain standard and aside from growing it all myself which is time consuming, this is the compromise I've reached.

But pesticides used on "inorganic" food also has to meet certain standards, set by the same FDA that certify organic products. Organic pesticides are also less effective so they have to use more of it. This is after all the point of artificial pesticides; it's more effective and targeted so less can be used. And if you wash produce properly this is not really an issue anyway.

Just trying to understand here. I've always been curious/confused by this argument for organic.

M from Loveland

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Re: How much is too much for organic produce?
« Reply #17 on: January 27, 2015, 05:25:57 PM »
Which chemicals? What dosage are you worried about? Organic vs "non-organic" (a silly term) produce is chemically identical. They both use fertilizer and pesticides, just different ones. So which exactly is the problem? E.g apples contain cyanide. This is a perfectly natural chemical..

To answer you question; I don't think organic produce is worth it. Scientific studies has found no nutritional or health benefit. I avoid buying organic as much as possible. I get mad when the store is out of bananas so I have to buy organic ones at 2x the price.

I'm not worried about the chemicals IN the food, I'm worried about the chemicals ON the food. I agree that organic isn't nutritionally superior but I have no interest in eating pesticides. I know pesticides and fertilizers are used on organics as well but they have to meet a certain standard and aside from growing it all myself which is time consuming, this is the compromise I've reached.

But pesticides used on "inorganic" food also has to meet certain standards, set by the same FDA that certify organic products. Organic pesticides are also less effective so they have to use more of it. This is after all the point of artificial pesticides; it's more effective and targeted so less can be used. And if you wash produce properly this is not really an issue anyway.

Just trying to understand here. I've always been curious/confused by this argument for organic.

Wooooww, can't believe what my eyes are reading!!!. "Pesticides used on "inorganic" food"????, what are you talking about????. Sorry I'm rough here, but that's too much for me to handle!!!.

FDA doesn't certify organic production, that's the USDA.

You need to get your facts straight before continue typing inaccurate things about organic food production. I'm an Agronomist, and I've worked for several years in an agency that certifies organic agricultural production, so I'm fully knowledgable of what I'm talking about.

If you've always been curious/confused by organic production, I'll suggest to do some reading before saying anything else.

I'd suggest to start here:
http://www.usda.gov/wps/portal/usda/usdahome?contentidonly=true&contentid=organic-agriculture.html

Then, check this link:
http://www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/NOPOrganicStandards

Finally, you can check the National Organic Program (NOP):
http://www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/nop

There's a lot of reading and technical information, but I'd be more than happy to answer any question that you have :). I'm all about having our mustachian community well educated about organic production.

M.

M from Loveland

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Re: How much is too much for organic produce?
« Reply #18 on: January 27, 2015, 05:28:02 PM »
where do you buy your organic meat, milk, etc?. I get my organic food from King Soopers, it's not as expensive as Whole Foods.

Scandium

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Re: How much is too much for organic produce?
« Reply #19 on: January 27, 2015, 05:58:15 PM »
Which chemicals? What dosage are you worried about? Organic vs "non-organic" (a silly term) produce is chemically identical. They both use fertilizer and pesticides, just different ones. So which exactly is the problem? E.g apples contain cyanide. This is a perfectly natural chemical..

To answer you question; I don't think organic produce is worth it. Scientific studies has found no nutritional or health benefit. I avoid buying organic as much as possible. I get mad when the store is out of bananas so I have to buy organic ones at 2x the price.

I'm not worried about the chemicals IN the food, I'm worried about the chemicals ON the food. I agree that organic isn't nutritionally superior but I have no interest in eating pesticides. I know pesticides and fertilizers are used on organics as well but they have to meet a certain standard and aside from growing it all myself which is time consuming, this is the compromise I've reached.

But pesticides used on "inorganic" food also has to meet certain standards, set by the same FDA that certify organic products. Organic pesticides are also less effective so they have to use more of it. This is after all the point of artificial pesticides; it's more effective and targeted so less can be used. And if you wash produce properly this is not really an issue anyway.

Just trying to understand here. I've always been curious/confused by this argument for organic.

Wooooww, can't believe what my eyes are reading!!!. "Pesticides used on "inorganic" food"????, what are you talking about????. Sorry I'm rough here, but that's too much for me to handle!!!.

FDA doesn't certify organic production, that's the USDA.

You need to get your facts straight before continue typing inaccurate things about organic food production. I'm an Agronomist, and I've worked for several years in an agency that certifies organic agricultural production, so I'm fully knowledgable of what I'm talking about.

If you've always been curious/confused by organic production, I'll suggest to do some reading before saying anything else.

I'd suggest to start here:
http://www.usda.gov/wps/portal/usda/usdahome?contentidonly=true&contentid=organic-agriculture.html

Then, check this link:
http://www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/NOPOrganicStandards

Finally, you can check the National Organic Program (NOP):
http://www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/nop

There's a lot of reading and technical information, but I'd be more than happy to answer any question that you have :). I'm all about having our mustachian community well educated about organic production.

M.
I said inorganic because the organic label is stupid. As all food is organic. (unless you eat dirt and rocks)

OK, USDA. but all pesticides are certified safe. I assume by same USDA? How and why would organic pesticides be better for us to eat?

And if we believe the federal government when they say organic pesticides are safe, why don't we believe them when they say regular pesticides are safe?


edit: it appears you are wrong, despite being an "Agronomer". Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide are regulated by the EPA, not the USDA.
http://www.epa.gov/oecaagct/lfra.html
« Last Edit: January 28, 2015, 10:13:36 AM by Scandium »

choppingwood

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Re: How much is too much for organic produce?
« Reply #20 on: January 27, 2015, 06:28:12 PM »
I think you can keep the produce box and look at the rest of your grocery spending. Some ideas:

Look at less expensive meat.
Put less meat in the meal - stretch it with less expensive ingredients, like beans.
Keep an eye out for specials on meat, and stock up the freezer gradually.
Make recipes with fewer ingredients.
Serve soup and a half sandwich.
Use eggs as an evening protein or in a wrap.
Move right away from cereal. It has so little nutritional value and has so much sugar and salt in it, that you can't eat enough to feel satisfied. That's why your kids eat so much of it. Cook hand-held breakfasts, like burritos, at a time of day and week when you have the energy, and lead your family to believe that these are supposed to be cold when served. Hand fruit goes great with the yogurt.
Look at what snacks you are stocking up the house with. Are their less expensive snacks? (Popcorn is great.)
Use canola oil instead of olive oil. Start with it for cooking, and then move on to foods where you can taste it.
Develop a repertoire of vegetarian or almost vegetarian meals. Start with chili.
Buy bread on sale in quantity and freeze it.
Cut out expensive condiments, special teas, and things that end up in the side shelf of your fridge.
Most importantly, go through your food spending and ask yourselves about every item, what can we substitute that is less expensive, and what can we live without?

And have fun doing it. Its a creative challenge!

 




theonethatgotaway

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Re: How much is too much for organic produce?
« Reply #21 on: January 27, 2015, 07:22:18 PM »
I know an organic farmer. Organic farmers have to jump through hoops to be 'certified' by the USDA. It's all a big scam.

K, thanks, bye.

galliver

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Re: How much is too much for organic produce?
« Reply #22 on: January 27, 2015, 07:26:44 PM »
If you're traumatized by oatmeal, you could try some alternative grains: farina/cream of wheat cooks up fast (make it with milk and a little sugar, all the kids I've ever known loved it! You can also add fruit, jam, honey...); millet or buckwheat you can make the night before and they'll reheat well. Or, cooked buckwheat groats (cook them just like rice), can straight up replace cereal...just add milk.

My parents were night owls and I have fed myself in the morning since I was in elementary school (oh, and I'm not much of a morning person either). Favorites have included frozen waffles (sometimes topped with yogurt), pancakes, and french toast. Once I started being more mindful of the sugar, I also liked sandwiches (cheese, deli meat, or PB on bread or toast) with a cup of hot tea.

In grad school I got addicted to DD breakfast sandwiches, then bought a box of frozen, then realized I could make my own. You can bake eggs in a muffin tin with or without ham, veggies, etc. mixed in, then put them on toasted english muffins, wrap, and freeze. Remove and microwave in the AM. Or skip the bread and just do little egg muffins. Maybe with a bit of pie crust. I also went through a breakfast cookie phase; I second those. Homemade muffins can also be full of good grains, fruit, nuts, and fiber (and you can limit the sugar).

theonethatgotaway

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Re: How much is too much for organic produce?
« Reply #23 on: January 27, 2015, 07:28:23 PM »
This is what helps me.

I love picking up new things at the grocer and casually tossing it into my basket. (Oh! what a fancy candle! Oh! Premium meat! Oh! Dark Chocolate with Carmel filing! Oh! Sparkling water!) Time is valuable and doing idiodic things like this make my bill 50% higher and I end up with a lot of unnecessary crap I *think* I need. (Oh! Look at my cart! Premium everything!)

I make a list. A firm list.
 (It always ends up being fruit/veg/maybe butter maybe bread)

Then I guess the price of what I'm planning to get in the margins. It's almost like a game for me. Then I guess the total.

If I need bananas and they are out of bananas I'll sub in a cantaloupe at the store.

I always come within $4 of my guess. And it's fun. Weird I guess, but fun in an otherwise boring chore situation. And I leave proud that I've only got what I need.

lakemom

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Re: How much is too much for organic produce?
« Reply #24 on: January 28, 2015, 07:17:58 AM »
I'm thinking that in addition to saving receipts you need to separate out all food and nonfood and check each category out separately.  I did this many years ago (7-8) and while it showed exactly what "I" thought it was a real eye opener for my husband.  At that time we were spending about 30% of our "grocery" money on nonfood items (paper products, cleaning products, household items).  You may be surprised at how much of that "grocery" money at Costco is really not food.  Then modify your budget from "grocery" to "food", "cleaning supplies/laundry", and "household".  I've since put cleaning/laundry back into the grocery budget but the household is still separate to this day (as is clothing which can also slip into the food budget at the big box stores, Walmart, target, costo, sams).

MayDay

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Re: How much is too much for organic produce?
« Reply #25 on: January 28, 2015, 08:09:28 AM »
I have kids and I understand how hard mornings can be.

And my kids think boxed cereal is crack.

But we just do.not.buy.it.  by the way, the kids were fine with that, it was H who needed a multi-year weaning process!

Anyway, I have a few ideas. Your h can set out the yogurt with a cat-proof lid, on an ice pack. It's a fermented food, it'll be fine if it's warm for an hour. My kids love sprinkling homemade granola on top. You can do a pot of oatmeal (or whatever cooked grain you want) in the crockpot the night before, and it'll be ready in the morning. Your H can scoop their bowls before he leaves. Mic in cinnamon, raisins, etc the night before. You can make egg muffins or regular muffins with a couple extra eggs cracked in so you don't have a messy pan every morning. Your H can make peanut butter toast and it will be fine sitting for an hour. You can feed them dinner leftovers for breakfast, and make a breakfast-y thing for lunch. Etc.

FLBiker

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Re: How much is too much for organic produce?
« Reply #26 on: January 28, 2015, 08:17:26 AM »
"My current "recipe" is a scoop of peanut butter, a banana, and raspberry jalapeno jelly.  For a while I was on a savory kick with peanut butter, a fried banana, soy sauce, chili sauce and fried onions."

You put all of that in Oatmeal?!

Yep.

Fuggled

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Re: How much is too much for organic produce?
« Reply #27 on: January 28, 2015, 08:47:43 AM »
We used to subscribe to a weekly CSA for produce but stopped after about a year.  The reasoning was:
  • The contents weren't predictable so we couldn't plan meals and other shopping effectively
  • Quantities were also unpredictable and didn't always work for us.  A single sweet potato or 1 cup of field peas in my basket is just a pain when feeding a family
  • A lot of what we got in our share was duplicate of what we were growing in our garden
  • Contents weren't always a good value; when they mix in shitake mushrooms, kiwi or raspberries, I know my money's not going as far as it could.  I'd rather be on the lookout for good deals on special items like those and have them as a treat.
  • It just wasn't the cheapest option/li]
For comparison, we have a family of four (me, wife, 4 year old, 6 month old) and for this past week I purchased all of our groceries (food only, not household goods) for less than $50 doing all my shopping at Sprouts.  Organic produce on the list included:
  • kale (2 bunches at $3)
  • apples ($.98/lb)
  • leeks (can't remember the price)
  • green onions (can't remember the price)

Conventional produce included
  • cabbage ($.48/lb)
  • cauliflower ($.98/lb)
  • avocados ($.77/each)
  • button mushrooms ($2.99/lb)
  • oranges ($.98/lb)
  • onions ($.48/lb)

I also had pasta, pasta sauce, tortillas, organic whole milk (for coffee), chicken sausage (not organic), and pork shoulder (not organic).  We already had some things at home (like oatmeal, honey, peanut butter, egg noodles, beans) and have a few chickens in the backyard for eggs.  But still, that's pretty good for a week.

One thing I do is select produce based on seasonality and the Dirty Dozen/Clean 15 list.  You can get the Dirty Dozen app on your phone.  I've started to learn which items I really care about getting organic (apples and greens) and which aren't worth the extra money (cabbage, onions, sweet potatoes).  Another resource worth checking out is http://www.whatsonmyfood.org/.  It will really help illustrate the difference between the most "contaminated" foods (apples) and the least (avocados).  Either way, I pay attention to prices and seasonality.  I can get organic apples for $.98/lb now, as opposed to $2.99/lb at other times of the year.

People already gave good advice on breakfast options, but I'll also suggest grits/polenta.  It works great sweet or savory.

MsPeacock

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Re: How much is too much for organic produce?
« Reply #28 on: January 28, 2015, 09:55:22 AM »
I am just working on getting a grip on my grocery spending as well. I have done CSA in the past and found that it was too unpredictable in terms of meal planning and too much of somethings (beets - ick) and too little of other things (spinach).

What I have found helpful in terms of getting grocery costs under control (just starting out)
1. Making a price book for things that I regularly purchase at Costco vs. my favorite grocery store. This way I can see what is actually a good price and if it is better to wait for a sale. The regular store (Shoprite) is often cheaper on sale then Costco - and I don't have to buy things in such large quantities.
2. Making a spending list and breaking out groceries, eating out, pets, household (cleaning, batteries, etc.).
3. Meal planning - buy what I need for a week and work on eating down the pantry/freezer full of stuff.
4. Less processed food - which is easier given the meal planning. I generally only have 20 minutes or so to make dinner in the evening rush - so I need fast easy meals, and tended to fall back on prepared foods. However, if I plan I get throw together something from scratch (e.g. homemade pizza) in about the same amount of time for much less cost.
5. Reduce food waste. Embarrassing to admit how much was getting tossed before I started meal planning. I would purchase things w/ good intentions and it would go bad before I had a chance to use it up.

My kids love cereal too - and there is a place for it in our lives, but not as the only breakfast food. Plenty of good suggestions from others.

theonethatgotaway

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Re: How much is too much for organic produce?
« Reply #29 on: January 28, 2015, 10:36:46 AM »
I found Sprouts incredibly cheap as well!!

rmendpara

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Re: How much is too much for organic produce?
« Reply #30 on: January 28, 2015, 10:41:26 AM »
1-1.2k isn't absurd for a meat eating and organic diet, but how effective it will be in improving overall health will depend a lot more on other aspects as well...

- exercise
- how often/if you eat out at restaurants (horribly processed and not organic at all)
- stress management
- genetics

You can obviously control the first 3 very well, in addition to managing what you eat at home, but just be sure you are not eating organic at home while eating like crap outside the home and not exercising.

If you can afford the organic foods, then why not..

Louis the Cat

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Re: How much is too much for organic produce?
« Reply #31 on: January 28, 2015, 11:34:00 AM »
Wow! Thanks to everyone for all the suggestions! I'm going to have to go back through and take notes. You have all been very helpful. To clarify, our box isn't a CSA, we do have a fair amount of control over what goes into it and can make substitutions if necessary. What you all have made me realize is that, once again, I'm focusing on blowing out the candle while my Christmas tree is on fire. Thanks again for all the suggestions. If there are more, I'm happy to hear them but will definitely start with replacing the cereal since we do consume incredible amounts.

choppingwood

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Re: How much is too much for organic produce?
« Reply #32 on: January 28, 2015, 09:19:33 PM »
"My current "recipe" is a scoop of peanut butter, a banana, and raspberry jalapeno jelly. 

It is a sidetrip, but I can't stand not knowing. What is raspberry jalapeno jelly? Is this something you buy? Or is it something you make? And what else do you use it for?

I like raspberries and I like jalapenos. I won't know about the two together until I try, right?

spruce

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Re: How much is too much for organic produce?
« Reply #33 on: January 29, 2015, 06:52:56 AM »
Thanks for all the thoughts! I could easily see making individual servings of yogurt (why a lid didn't occur to me we're going to stay far away from) and I love the breakfast "cookies" idea. Heck, if I can find a product that can stand up to abuse, I might use something like that for backpacking breakfasts. My problem with scrambled eggs is it makes a mess out of the pan which then needs to be soaked and scrubbed. You're all absolutely right about cereal; too bad DH made a cereal run yesterday...

If scrambled eggs are making a mess out of your pan then you need a new pan.  My current go-to egg pan is a wagner 8-inch cast iron skillet. Season it in the oven when you first get it, and when you cook put a pat of butter in it, let it get hot, pour the eggs in, and they shouldn't stick at all. I use my pan every day and its so clean I simply wipe it out daily and then do a more thorough wash and reseasoning (let it get hot on the stove so all the water evaporates, turn the heat off, and then rub oil in it and let it sit) once a week.  A big cast iron skillet, well taken care of, should solve your problem. There are also ceramic pans and other non-stick surfaces that should work well too.

I'm also not a big fan of oatmeal, but I'm considering trying baked oatmeal one of these weeks with yogurt or milk...and this recipe has lots of eggs in it so you still get some protein to keep you full. http://gnowfglins.com/2011/04/18/apple-cinnamon-baked-oatmeal-soaked/

p.s., I'm too am a fan of spending a bit more money for local or organic produce, including good quality meat.  Food is important, and spending on money on food that isn't tasty, healthy, and doesn't make us feel good is not worth it in my book!

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

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Re: How much is too much for organic produce?
« Reply #34 on: January 29, 2015, 08:31:44 AM »
Organic food is a scam.

FLBiker

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Re: How much is too much for organic produce?
« Reply #35 on: January 29, 2015, 09:39:05 AM »
"My current "recipe" is a scoop of peanut butter, a banana, and raspberry jalapeno jelly. 

It is a sidetrip, but I can't stand not knowing. What is raspberry jalapeno jelly? Is this something you buy? Or is it something you make? And what else do you use it for?

I like raspberries and I like jalapenos. I won't know about the two together until I try, right?

I got it as a gift, but it is absolutely something I would buy.  And I'm game to make it.  I grow habaneros and have a habanero / turmeric hot sauce that I love.  (Not in my oatmeal, of course...)

jaye_p

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Re: How much is too much for organic produce?
« Reply #36 on: January 29, 2015, 01:24:08 PM »
Follow your principles regarding the organic produce.  If it's that important to you, keep it - but get the rest of your food spending under control.  As far breakfast is concerned, check out budgetbytes.com for some great easy, inexpensive, and tasty breakfast options (as well as lots of wonderful recipes for other meals as well).  I know you said you don't like oatmeal, but your kids might like one of her baked oatmeal recipes (my son & husband both love them).  You could also make your own granola - add milk or yogurt and serve, just like packaged breakfast cereal, but at less cost and containing only ingredients you've chosen.  How about baking up some honey-wheat bread the night before, and serving it as toast with butter and jam?  Or cook up a few strips of bacon and fry an egg per person and make a breakfast sandwich with the toast?

Indio

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Re: How much is too much for organic produce?
« Reply #37 on: January 29, 2015, 02:23:01 PM »
We eat 100% organic for everything - dairy, veg, sugar, flour, oatmeal, etc. I make oatmeal for the kids every day. I soak the oats overnight in milk  to make them creamy. When I wake up first thing in the morning, I turn the stove on low and they are ready in 15 mins. Super easy, healthy and organic.
I have a refractometer and have measured the Brix index of organic vs conventionally grown food and organic always measure higher on the index - meaning it has a higher nutritional value. Complicating my measurements, is that my home grown veg is always higher than store bought organic veg.

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

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Re: How much is too much for organic produce?
« Reply #38 on: January 29, 2015, 02:28:06 PM »
We eat 100% organic for everything - dairy, veg, sugar, flour, oatmeal, etc. I make oatmeal for the kids every day. I soak the oats overnight in milk  to make them creamy. When I wake up first thing in the morning, I turn the stove on low and they are ready in 15 mins. Super easy, healthy and organic.
I have a refractometer and have measured the Brix index of organic vs conventionally grown food and organic always measure higher on the index - meaning it has a higher nutritional value. Complicating my measurements, is that my home grown veg is always higher than store bought organic veg.

That sounds like quite a leap.

Scandium

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Re: How much is too much for organic produce?
« Reply #39 on: January 29, 2015, 02:33:47 PM »
We eat 100% organic for everything - dairy, veg, sugar, flour, oatmeal, etc. I make oatmeal for the kids every day. I soak the oats overnight in milk  to make them creamy. When I wake up first thing in the morning, I turn the stove on low and they are ready in 15 mins. Super easy, healthy and organic.
I have a refractometer and have measured the Brix index of organic vs conventionally grown food and organic always measure higher on the index - meaning it has a higher nutritional value. Complicating my measurements, is that my home grown veg is always higher than store bought organic veg.

That sounds like quite a leap.

Indeed. That is most likely nonsense

http://scopeblog.stanford.edu/2012/09/03/research-shows-little-evidence-that-organic-foods-are-more-nutritious-than-conventional-ones/

Quote
No consistent differences were seen in the vitamin content of organic products, and only one nutrient — phosphorus — was significantly higher in organic versus conventionally grown produce (and the researchers note that because few people have phosphorous deficiency, this has little clinical significance).

For anyone who wants to live efficiently and maximize the utility of spending organic food should be the first thing to go.

Quark

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Re: How much is too much for organic produce?
« Reply #40 on: January 29, 2015, 02:37:36 PM »
I pay $5 per pound for grass fed beef, which is cheaper than most cuts I see in the grocery store. So it is not true that high quality meat is more expensive.

Sazzy

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Re: How much is too much for organic produce?
« Reply #41 on: January 31, 2015, 06:35:49 PM »
I'm flabbergasted at the amount of money spent overall on the OP's family's monthly food. This organic produce cost is absolutely minimal compared to whatever else the money is being spent on and I think (esp for kids) money spent well. A family of 4 can easily live off fresh produce (not piles of processed rubbish) for hundreds and hundreds less. I'm serious.

One place you can start is by reading about how the poorest Americans survive... http://thisisnews.co/2013/12/26/more-hunger-for-the-poorest-americans-this-christmas/

Plus I read in the Daily Mail recently about how British people are being frugal - one family of 4 ate amazingly well for $100 a week. It can be done!!!

Louis the Cat

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Re: How much is too much for organic produce?
« Reply #42 on: February 03, 2015, 03:26:43 PM »
I wanted to report back after a weekend of adjustments. We are just about out of cereal, and have been mixing it with yogurt to get some better calories on board for the kiddos. The kids are eating the first batch of baked oatmeal right now and it's good enough that they didn't want to let me taste! For clarification, my problem with oatmeal is texture and smell-when-wet so Cream of Wheat and similar are a no go but the baked oatmeal is quite good.

We also tried half a dozen new recipes (we were getting pretty bored with our stand bys), mostly from Budget Bytes and so far, we've loved every one. She's a little stingy with her cheese (we LOVE cheese) so a little extra on top and we've been very pleased. Lots of strong flavor and very filling.

Thanks again to everyone for your ideas. Clearly, the produce was not the problem. I guess I knew it wasn't the only problem, but thought it might be a contributing factor.

For the record, after cleaning up some stuff in Mint (no, Mint, paying off the Target credit card is not a grocery expense) the official average for 2014 was $1,081. The two highest months were July, when we had 4 guests for 2 days and 2 for 8 more days, and December because of Christmas, both extra cooking and we gave homemade consumables as presents. Obviously the trend will remain (higher numbers when we have guests and at Christmas) but the actual numbers will come down.

mm1970

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Re: How much is too much for organic produce?
« Reply #43 on: February 03, 2015, 03:36:11 PM »
My DH and I are assessing our grocery spending which we know is insane ($1000-$1200 per month for a family of 4). One of our luxuries in this category is a weekly box of fresh, organic produce delivered to our door. For this privilege, we pay $36.44 (the actual charge on my CC statement) per week. This keeps all of us in fresh produce and aside from the occasional bag of onions and veggies from our garden, we buy no other produce. This breaks down to $1.30 per person per day. It is important to us to eat organic because we are feeding two young brains (twins who turn 4 tomorrow and who, incidentally, eat like adults) and I have a sensitive stomach that has been a lot less sensitive since improving the overall quality of my diet, organic produce being one piece of the puzzle. Also, the delivery service keeps us out of the grocery store and we have noticed a direct correlation between the number of trips to the store and the amount of money we spend. (Fewer large trips cost less in total than many small trips.) We do waste the occasional pepper or cucumber that gets lost in the fridge but largely manage to eat it all in a timely fashion. Am I simply defending the indefensible or is this a reasonable allocation of our resources?
Personally I think your delivery budget is reasonable, and along the lines of what it costs here.

I'm also feeding a family of four, and I have a CSA that I pick up weekly.  It's $25, half share, and a full share is about $40.  Similar boxes of food for a full share would be about $35 delivered here too.

Years ago I did a comparison shop two weeks in a row.  I wrote down all that we got from the farm, and then went to the grocery store and priced the non-organic versions (because organic was not widely available at the time).  One week they were dead even in price (even though CSA was organic) and one week CSA was cheaper by a buck or two.

I think it's important to note that we eat more variety with the CSA.  It's useful to keep you from shopping (as you noted), and CSA produce lasts longer than grocery store produce, in my experience, because it's fresher.

I also like supporting a local farm.

FuckRx

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Re: How much is too much for organic produce?
« Reply #44 on: February 03, 2015, 04:14:42 PM »
1-1.2k isn't absurd for a meat eating and organic diet, but how effective it will be in improving overall health will depend a lot more on other aspects as well...

- exercise
- how often/if you eat out at restaurants (horribly processed and not organic at all)
- stress management
- genetics

You can obviously control the first 3 very well, in addition to managing what you eat at home, but just be sure you are not eating organic at home while eating like crap outside the home and not exercising.

If you can afford the organic foods, then why not..

very well put. And someone else mentioned when buying organic perhaps trying to steer away from the really expensive stuff and if it's listed by poundage trying to stay in the $1.50/lb range. I try that. But some weeks I'll completely just shop the non-organic and other weeks when I'm feeling a little hypochondriac I get organic.

TheOfficeLady

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Re: How much is too much for organic produce?
« Reply #45 on: February 06, 2015, 01:11:35 PM »
I've been looking into buying a bigger amount of meat from farms. The per/lb. prices are lower. I've been thinking of splitting it with my friend and if I freeze it all, it could last a good 6-12 months. Might not hurt to look at farms that offer bigger quantities of grassfed beef, etc.

alsoknownasDean

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Re: How much is too much for organic produce?
« Reply #46 on: March 21, 2015, 06:10:58 AM »
Honestly I think if the organic stuff is more than 50% extra, it's not worth it.

I was at the markets today, and was looking at the prices of capsicums (bell peppers).

Green capsicums through most of the market were around $2 a kilo (as opposed to $6 at Woolworths). The organic stand? $8.99 a kilo!

The red capsicums at the organic stand were $18.99 a kilo! I can buy steak for less!

Tomatoes at the markets were as low as $1 a kilo at the regular stands, and $5.99/kg at the organic stand.

Sorry, at those prices, I'm more than happy to buy the regular produce.