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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Organic and Frugal? Can they Co-exist?

As a new mom I've been thinking a lot about saving money so that I can stay home with my little one. As important as saving money is to me, I am also concerned with providing quality meals to my family. While we aren't so strapped for cash yet that we are living on beans and rice, my budget does not allow for many convenience or specialty foods.

While convenience foods are just that, convenient, they don't always provide the best nutrition. So, I'm not too worried about purchasing fewer convenience foods. However, I have been thinking more about organic foods. But, while organic may be better for my families bodies (less pesticides), they aren't so great for my wallet!

While growing you're own pesticide free garden would be a great alternative, this isn't an option for me at this time. Having a newborn at home and working a part time job (oh yeah, and did I mention this blog takes a fraction of my time as well) pretty much takes up all my time. I hope to be able to do some gardening of my own when Judah gets a little older. But, growing your own "organic" foods can be a costly project if you don't use your resources wisely. For instance, keeping seeds from the previous year's harvest and growing you're own seedlings is much better for your wallet than purchasing new plants each year.

That is why I've been doing a little research and this is what I have found:
If you are going to try to purchase organic produce there are certain foods that are considered the "dirty dozen" because they are they most laden with pesticides - either because they are treated more often or with more pesticides or they do not have a thick protective skin. If your budget allows for ANY organic produce you should try to buy these "dirty dozen" organic:

1. Peach
2. Apple
3. Bell pepper
4. Celery
5. Nectarine
6. Strawberries
7. Cherries
8. Kale
9. Lettuce
10. Grapes (imported)
11. Carrot
12. Pear

And here are the "clean fifteen" - if your budget doesn't allow for total organic don't worry about purchasing these organic.

1. Onion
2. Avocado
3. Sweet corn
4. Pineapple
5. Mango
6. Asparagus
7. Sweet peas
8. Kiwi
9. Cabbage
10. Eggplant
11. Papaya
12. Watermelon
13. Broccoli
14. Tomato
15. Sweet potato

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) research has shown that, “consumers can reduce their pesticide exposure by 80 percent by avoiding the most contaminated fruits and vegetables and eating only the cleanest. If consumers get their USDA-recommended 5 daily servings of fruits and vegetables from the 15 most contaminated, they could consume an average of 10 pesticides a day. Those who eat the 15 least contaminated conventionally-grown fruits and vegetables ingest less than 2 pesticides daily.”

I am looking into finding the cheapest prices on organic produce and purchasing them when I can - especially those in the dirty dozen.

What do you think? Can frugal and organic live in the same household? I'd love to hear your thoughts.


Anonymous said...

I think that Organic and Frugal can live in the same household. I try to buy organic whenever possible. I do find, however, that most of the foods on the dirty dozen are the foods we eat most often. I also find that organic Co-op's are the best choice for families trying to buy fresh organic. This is where we can find alot of the foods we eat the most.
Thanks for your blog. Its a great site and helps my family save money!

Pio the Meyers and Jenell the Human said...

This is a reason I like Harris Teeter. I use triple coupon day (obviously not for produce) to be able to afford better quality food, organic, etc.

Thanks for your post!

Laurie said...

I'd love to think so! I think frugal means getting back to basics, which usually is cheaper (although more labor-intensive). Like you, after having a baby, I became increasingly aware of toxins/chemicals/pesticides in food, since I was making most of my own baby food. Ultimately, I think we are killing ourselves here in the US with our modern-day lifestyles. I believe in making as many changes as possible to live more "cleanly"... growing your own foods, hanging out laundry to dry, re-using and repairing items, conserving water, walking/biking more and driving less... living more like our grandparents and less like "the Jones'" next door. The more I get back to nature, the closer I feel to God and the great gift he has given us- mother Earth! Although I don't usually buy organic (I just can't stomach the prices) I try to buy only US grown produce (the US has tighter restrictions on chemicals allowed to treat foods). We peel our apples (and rarely have peaches/nectarines), shop our farmer's market, grow our own peppers, tomatoes,& strawberries (and cut up/freeze extras during and at the end of the season), and mooch off my dad :) who lives on a farm and has a good-sized garden and has fruit trees. Great post. Can't wait to see what other frugal moms are doing!

Ann Kelly Parkhurst said...

I do as much organic as possible but there are very few coupouns for those items but I also make most of our food from scratch. I do buy organic produce and fruit when ever possible, and grow our own. I also can and frezze lots of vegs in the summer when I can get good fresh veggies at my farmers market. I make our bread so I do buy all organic flours which are a bit more cost but less than buying the premade bread. If I am not buying prepackaged foods I am keep the chemicals out of our diets even more. So I save in that dept and spend more buying orgainic in its rawer forms. Cleaning supplies and and soaps etc are higher but after doing the research I can't use the other toxic junk for my family. I do ALWAYS use greener cleaners no matter if i have to pay more. Just what works for our family.

jon, lara + lydia said...

my target has got their organic strawberries 2.99 this week. pair that with their $1 and they are CHEAP!

teacherbug said...

My husband is a professional landscaper and gardener, so of course he makes growing veggies look easy, but I for one do NOT have a green thumb. But I've learned a lot. One thing you can do if you don't have the time or space for a garden is to grow what you want in pots. They look great on your porch and don't require much attention, but produce more than enough for one family. Everything grows in pots...believe me! There's also a great book called "Square Foot Gardening" that explains how to create a huge production in very few square feet that won't require much time or energy.

I'd suggest planting a peach, apple and cherry tree in your yard and let it go to town. Then pot everything else. Almost all that produce in the dirty dozen list will grow in pots or in very little space. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Be sure to visit organic products web sites for coupons (e.g., Earthbound Farm, Stonyfield Farm, Organic Valley). Also, you may want to check out Organic Grocery Deals: for like-minded savers. I'm pretty sure there are links to other organic coupon sites from there.

aisha said...

I joined an organic CSA farm last year and i must say i am in love with it! there were so many new vegetables i didnt even know of and my family enjoys eating new things for dinner.
i also do a monthly wholefoods run. unfortunately our shaws and stop and shop do not carry organic produce, just boxed and processed items :(
i always scope out all coupons before i go to wholefoods. i just went this week and spent $70 worth but only paid $40 and last month i bought $50 worth and paid $25.
organic gardening, vegetarian times, and kiwi are some of the magazines that help with coupons.
mambosprouts, kiwi, and organiccrocerydeals are some websites that help too :)
always sign up for coupon booklets mailed to your house and pick up any coupon books in stores, they also help.

Simply Susan Jewelry said...

I'm excited about the direction of your blog. The economic situation has caused us to all re-examine our spending over the past year. 2010 seems to be more about balance. Using what we have smarter...but also taking better care of ourselves with the resources we have. I can't wait to read about your journey!

KY-Q-Clipper said...

One step i took to a healthy home is turning my back on chemical cleaners. I have internet-read that they cause neurological damage and for a growing baby it can't be good. So for an all-purpose spray I have a mixture/recipe of half vinegar, half water, half dropper full essential orange oil (50ish drops, half dropper of citricidex ($10 for 4 oz, from grapefruit seed extract. Then for the tubs I use a 1/2 cup of baking soda, 1/2 cup of washing soda, 1/2 cup borax, essential oil of orange or lemon ($7-11 for 4 oz from Pour as much dry mixture as needed in the tub and add small amts of water to make a paste. Spread all over tub, set overnight if possible. After a couple of hours or longer stray the whole tub with the vinegar solution completely. The vinegar and baking soda will begin to foam up and break down the grime. I get my tubs chemical-cleaner-scrubbing-bubbles shiny. For really bad tubs it will take many treatments to get it back to spectalucar. I use this same powder solution for the toilets then later follow with the all-purpose vinegar solution for that foaming reaction. I try to leave it the solution in the toilet 1/2 a day or overnight, whatever possible.

For deals on food, you would be amazed at the organic clearanced food I find a Kroger. Near expired milk goes to 2.99 (Organic Horizan) Or Natural veggie chips, baking flours, Fantastic foods vegetarian chili, Stonyfields organic yogurt. I freeze the yogurt if it is about to expire. I once found 2 gallon sized organic apple juices for 1.99 each. Every store puts the Nature's Market Clearance at different spots so it's an Easter Egg Hunt for it. One sweet friend of mine took me to her Costco's and their prices for organic / natural are jaw-dropping low. Ex. Natures Path Pop tarts at kroger 2.99 for a 6 count, at Costco a $9 for a 36 count. Organic frozen vegetables average 1.15 to 1.25 per pound, though they come in a 5lb back, you have to have the freezer space. I wish th e Costcos wasn't 1 1/2 hours away else I would get a membership, so now I have to be satified to go when my friend is ready to. I give her gas money and I get a ride and in. I hope this helps you some in creating a cleaner healthy home.