Sunday, May 18, 2014

Looking for Organic

I've become convinced by articles I read, one of which is a daily email from Dr. Mercola, that our regular food sources are compromised by the following:

  • Meat - unsanitary and inhumane living conditions which problem is "solved" by giving the animals  lots of antibiotics and growth hormone additives, not to mention feeding them genetically modified corn and soy.
  • Vegetables - grown with genetically modified seeds.  The plants are sprayed with Roundup, a poison called Glyosphate, that kills everything but the plant itself.  The plant also absorbs lots of Roundup, so in addition to being genetically modified, it is filled with poison.  In addition, plants are sprayed with insecticides, which are absorbed by the plant.
  • Dairy - Milk, Cheese, Butter, half & half, ets.  The cows are given growth hormone and fed GM (genetically modified), glyosphate filled food and antibiotics.  All this is leached into the milk.
  • Bread - Most breads are processed foods extraordinaire.  The wheat used to make the bread has been bred over the last 40 years into a much tougher variety than the wheat of the mid 20th century.  This wheat is the cause of much of the growing epidemic of gluten sensitivity, in my opinion. In addition, one of the major ingredients in every loaf of bread (as well as all processed foods) is sugar in its' many forms.  
The American today eats more sugar daily than in any time in the past.  It is an additive in all processed foods. While manufacturers have responded to the cry to get rid of modified sugars such as "high fructose corn syrup", sugar is still a major ingredient in foods one would not imagine, such as soups, salad dressings, and other items that don't seem to taste sweet at all.  It is thought that this epidemic of over-sugar is what is leading to another burgeoning disease, Alzheimers, also called Type 3 diabetes.  Now if the other information above hasn't scared you, this should.  Who wants to get Alzheimers, raise  your hand......

I could go on, but I've covered our major food groups.  When you shop in the grocery store, even in the outside aisles, avoiding processed foods, you are buying the contaminated items above.

The flip side of this coin is Organic.  While you will find "all natural" on lots of products,  which marketing gimmick means nothing, only a "Certified Organic" label is your alert that the item is safe to eat.

Since I live in South Florida, I should be able to find organic replacements for all the food groups above, and I can; however, only if price is no obstacle.  There are several independent markets for vegetables in my area in addition to the Whole Foods grocery store.

However, I do not want to spend my life savings on my weekly grocery bill.  It is bad enough that the prices for regular poisoned foods are through the roof, but Organic is priced out of the ball park in many cases.

For vegetables, there is a list of the "dirty dozen", which are those vegetables that are grown with the most pesticides, but this does not address the problem of GM and glyosphate. Many people decide to avoid the "dirty dozen", and buy regular for all the rest of their produce.  Corn is not on the list for the "dirty dozen", and I believe that is one of the chief GM products, full of glyosphate, so avoiding just the "dirty dozen" doesn't do much to protect your food.

For about 10 years now I have had "Irritable Bowel Syndrome", which has now ratcheted up to occasional bouts of "Diverticulitis".  I avoid processed foods from the center isles, like a good girl,  but that doesn't seem to have helped my condition.  

So I began my quest to find organic and not spend a mint.  So far I have been unsuccessful.  I plan on growing my own vegetables this upcoming winter, which is growing season for South Florida.  Summer is way too tropical for growing vegetables in the back yard.  Too much rain, the sun is far too hot when it shines, high humidity - all these, according to everything I have read, kill off vegetables unless you use tons of insecticides and anti-fungals, which betrays the purpose for growing in your back yard to begin with.

A few weeks ago, I looked online for the farmer's markets in my area and found 2 so far that are year round.  One is actually inside a strip mall and has been there awhile and the other is part of a plant nursery and feed store.

I went to both on consecutive weeks.  The farmer's market, called Southwest Ranches Farmer's Market   is best so far, although more expensive than Stiles', because they have the most organic produce.  The other in the strip mall, called Stiles Farmer's Market has fabulous prices, but I have no idea how the items are grown, or where.  If you read the comments for Stiles you will see that the prices are very cheap, but I'm looking for organic and there were only 2 items of organic produce when I shopped there.

Next I went to an actual store advertising low prices, Nutrition Smart.   While their web site looks impressive, the store itself is not.  I went to the Pembroke Pines location, which does not sell meat.  A big part of my shopping is trying to locate decently priced safe meats, so this was important to me.  The selection of vegetables was limited and priced similarly to Whole Foods, which has a much bigger selection.

I crossed off Stiles because, in spite of the great prices, almost nothing was organic.  I thought at first that Southwest Ranches Farmer's Market was too expensive, but it is cheaper than Whole Foods, and has a nice selection of produce.

I crossed off Nutrition Smart because in comparison with Whole Foods, I spent more money, not less for similar items, and I would always have to make an additional trip to buy meat.

For convenience, Whole Foods wins so far.  We don't have a Trader Joe's in the area yet, but one is coming.  They are supposedly well known for inexpensive items and organic choices.

I have to be SO careful when in Whole Foods because I am not good at sticking to a list.   But those days must come to an end.  One of my favorite items at Whole Foods is their Broccoli Slaw.  A large container is $4.99.  Very expensive when I could buy broccoli heads and process the stems myself.  The slaw also contains carrots, which could also be processed by me for less.

However, I work full time and am 58 years old.  This figures into my calculations.  I am tired when I get home and very often don't have the energy to cook something complicated from scratch.  Usually I try to make something that will last a few days as leftovers so that I don't have to cook every night.  In the past, and if I confess, sometimes still, I will just give up and get a rotisserie chicken from Publix (definitely not organic), or even worse, some Italian, Chinese or Cuban take out food.  These are all full of sugar/too many carbs, MSG and/or salt, in addition to knowing that no part of any of them is organic or non-GM.   There are so many more things I could do to cut costs if I didn't work (and I'd sure have a motivation for cutting those costs without my paycheck!!), however, that is not the case right now.  I must work, and so I spend more for food than I have to to make it easier on myself.

My husband, to compound the problem, is also a heavy meat eater.  He often goes on a modified Atkins diet to kick start weight loss because he is a type 2 diabetic and LOVES carbs, which make him fatter and are poison for his condition.  I don't buy potatoes or rice, so most meals consist of meat and a vegetables or two.  Actually, I just read that scientists believe some of our super processed foods are addictive because of the added sugar, modified fats and salt.  The super flavor becomes an addiction.  There are already books one can buy on carbohydrate addiction, and I can vouch for the craving for something with sugar in it.

In case anyone has been asleep for the past few months, the price of beef, pork and chicken is rising like crazy, and this is for the ordinary meat, not for organic.  Hence, organic is through the roof.  We stick mostly to hamburger since I can get a pound of grass fed, organic beef for $7.99.  Organic chicken is crazy expensive.

So here is the bottom line so far in my quest.

Whole Foods is the best place to shop for meat, if you can afford it.  The Southwest Farmer's market is good for produce, but since the prices aren't that different from Whole Foods, I prefer to make one stop - at Whole Foods.

I stick to hamburger unless there is a sale on other meat or fish or chicken.  I serve less meat and more vegetables, which include salads and cooked veggies.  I buy Ezekiel bread which is expensive, but healthy and no added sugar.  I buy lots of organic eggs.  Eggs can be hard boiled for snacks and lunch, as well as cooked for dinner with veggies added, and organic cheese.  I buy organic cheeses for snacks and sandwiches and organic bacon when it is on sale.  I stay away from expensive meat cuts, organic chicken (unless on sale).

I buy organic half and half for our coffee.  I still buy regular peanut butter, since I haven't found one that I like in the organic area - and my husband is the major peanut butter eater.  I have to remedy this, since regular peanut butter is too full of sugar.

I do not save money at all.  Period.  I spend more than I want to for groceries, and the prices go up all the time.  At our age, my husband with type 2 diabetes, and I are ripe for the effects of poisoned food to really take it's toll.  I am aware of this all the time, perhaps too much.

A part of me wants to just throw up my hands and buy at Publix, which has a few organic choices, and take the physical consequences.  After all, we all have to die sometime.  It is hard to believe that the vegetables I look at in a regular grocery store are full of glyosphate, are GM and probably full of pesticides.

It is also part of my nature to be skeptic about the organic things I buy.  How do I know they are truly organic?  The truth is I don't.  I am trusting that the place where I shop is honest.  I think that a place like Whole Foods is more likely to be honest since they are so prominent and well known.  I wouldn't put it past many local places to put "organic" stickers on their produce when it isn't organic at all.  And there is no way for me to know this unless I know the grower personally and have seen his methods.

I'm still searching, still looking for sales on organic items, still cutting back so that we don't eat so much, and we eat less meat.  I'm still looking for more farmer's markets.  There is a new one called Tree Hugger's Organic Farms, which looks very promising.   They are just starting up, so their produce is only sold at a weekly farmer's market, not at their own location.  That farmer's market is finished for the season and won't begin again until some time in October.

Today I'm baking my own gluten free bread in a bread machine.  I'm trying a recipe for the first time and have bought the ingredients, which will last for many more loaves, if this bread tastes good and I want to make it again.

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