Our family's adventures in cooking,
crafting, and enjoying each other.
Tuesday, February 28, 2012
As the first two months of 2012 have flown by, I've been slowly trying to work on the items from my New Year's To-Do List. Some things have been accomplished. For example, we haven't used any paper towels in about a month. (Well, Jonathan used some to wipe the grout from a tiling project, but none has been employed in the kitchen at all!) Some are in progress, like organizing the house. (Notice, "organizing the closets" turned into the whole house. And I wonder why things don't get done.)
But one item on my list is shaping up to be quite the project. It is focusing our family's diet more on "real foods." Although I've read a couple of books, many of my ideas about this have come from some helpful websites, like this one and this one. A basic definition of real food, as I see it, is to limit processed foods and eat more natural stuff. One way to think about it is, if your great-grandma would have eaten it, then it's a real food. Great-grandma didn't have all those ingredients that you can't pronounce and sound like they were created by scientists. (Although I was searching through my own grandma's spice cabinet about a year ago and found an honest-to-goodness jar of MSG in there. It said on the label "makes everything taste better!")
After much discussion - like the last two months - Jonathan and I decided to take the plunge into more healthful eating. We already eat most of our meals at home. We pack our own lunches, and eat out for supper twice a week: once at church , and once at a restaurant. Our fast food intake is limited to three or four times a year, when we are making a road trip. So the biggest changes we are faced with making are simply choosing different ingredients from the grocery store. We decided that to keep our budget in mind, we wouldn't do an all-out purge of all the "not-real" food, but replace things like crackers and chips as we ran out. We made a commitment to eat more vegetables, and decided that eating organic meat and dairy would be a good idea. Since great-grandma used white sugar, but for mostly special, home-baked treats, we decided to still have a small amount of sweets, like our regular ration of chocolate chip cookies. (With the exception of the very occasional Oreo, we haven't had store-bought cookies in probably two years.)
Today I went to the grocery store, ready to come home with my reusable grocery bags full of wholesome goodness. But our grocery budget is quite limited. For our family of four (and would you believe it, but Lydia is eating table food now!), we spend between $75 and $100 a week on groceries. So I breezed through the first part of the grocery store, carefully read labels to find a kind of sausage without high fructose corn syrup in it, and purchased some wild caught shrimp.
Then I got to the meat case. There were the whole roasting chickens, sitting in a row. The "regular" chickens, the kind I usually get, were $.99 a pound. The organic chickens were $1.98 a pound. I picked up an organic chicken. I admired the nice green color of its label. I put it in the cart.
My eyes strayed to the conventional chicken. Its label was red and blue. The entire chicken cost $4.11. I looked back to the organic chicken in my cart, which was over $9.00. I put the new chicken in the cart, and replaced the organic chicken in the meat case. I just couldn't do it.
The same thing happened in the dairy aisle, when I deliberated, and then put a gallon of regular milk and a dozen non-organic eggs in my cart. I just couldn't pay double.
And the bread? I have a hard time paying $3 for a loaf of bread in the first place, so the organic, whole wheat bread in the "health" section of the store just about gave me an anxiety attack. I decided that I would bake my own bread this week.
To make up for all of this, I went back to the produce section and bought twice as many veggies and five extra pounds of apples. At least we can be healthier by having less of our conventional meat and an extra serving of greens on the side.
I guess the bottom line is this: I am just not convinced that the organic food is worth the price. Anyone care to convince me? I'm open to persuasion (and maybe some grocery store scholarships), but for now, I guess I'm going to have to do some more research and start reworking the family budget a little...