Friday, April 11, 2008

Riding the Green Machine

After yesterday's mishap, the kids and I decided to take a day off of school and examine the status of organic food in our area. We hit six--yes six--grocery stores: Sam's Club; Trader Joe's; Meijer; an employee owned, cash-only store; and two local independent grocers. Our prognosis should not surprise anyone: organic is expensive. But how expensive was a shock to my system, along with the fact that there was very little difference in price from store to store. There just aren't many deals on organic food.

We found that organic milk, butter and eggs were consistently twice the price of their store counterparts. But now that Meijer and Dean's brand (non-organic) milk are rBHT-free, I feel less pressure to buy organic milk, anyway.

Meat was another kicker: double the price for non-hormone, non-antibiotic beef or chicken; I did find some chicken thighs marked down 40% for quick sale at Meijer.

Organic canned and bottled items such as tomatoes, beans, and salad dressings were a bit more reasonable especially when purchased under the store's private label at Meijer or Trader Joe's, with prices 25% to 50% above the regular brands.

Veggies were scary bad. Meijer had run-of-the-mill pesticide laden strawberries for $.99 per pound. The organic ones were $3.75. Ouch! The local grocer had romaine on sale for $.39 per pound while the organic was on sale at Meijer for $2.00 per 14 oz. package. I didn't even glance in the produce direction at Trader Joe's. Makes that garden all the more necessary!

The reality check has been deposited and it will not cover organics! No matter how I figure it, my $50 per week grocery budget is not going to stretch to include all these wonderfully healthy products. I'll look for the mark-downs, shop the pathetically slim sales, and weigh my options carefully, but for the present time, this home economist is going to have to mean that "Lord, bless this food to our bodies" in a "don't let us get poisoned" kind of way.
Now about those chickens...


A Dusty Frame said...

I've been here! It's hard to want to provide the very best for our families and then see that there's no way we can eat everything organic and pay the bills too.

I make some super healthy choices and buy organic when I can. Otherwise I pray the same prayer you do too;)

Kim said...

I can't wait until the farmer's market opens, I am able to find much better deals on produce :)

Monica said...

Very frustrating I know. I've become a recent fan of Tyson chicken who has moved toward organic. I know that at least they are antibiotic free. This goes on sale frequently.

I so wished that you lived here! There is a church/homeschool co-op about 40 minutes away that twice a month rents a semi and picks up all the soon-to-be expired or disposed of foods from the Whole Food warehouse. They separate it and pass it out to any person who wants to wait in line with a ticket. This has been a HUGE blessing to our family. We usually end up with a lot of a few different items which last a long time.

Right now I have 2 cases of Wild Oats peanut butter and about 8 dozen eggs. I have so much fun passing these extras on. But sadly eggs won't survive in the mail or I'd send you some in a jiffy.

I wonder what your local warehouse does with their surplus/expired goods?

Jenny said...

I don't think I could go green and healthy. It's just not in me. I can't live without my coffee and pepsi and cheese buns. xD

eureka said...

Great research. Thanks for sharing. I like the spring-thru-fall opportunities to buy seasonal locally grown produce. It has to be safer than something grown half the globe away.

NYC has a number of produce co-op programs. You subscribe to receive a bundle of locally-grown veggies each week. It's pot luck and based on whatever's seasonal, so it can be loaded with surprises, and you may have to be prepared to manage a weekly menu that incorporates parsnips and turnips. But I hear it's fresh and reliable, plus it's delivered to you, so that's one fewer trip to the store (or multiple stores).

What do you think about DIY gardening for tomatoes, strawberries, etc.? Worthwhile? I suspect ours, grown in the 'burbs, were frequently treated with *organic* cat pee.