Friday, December 10, 2010

Eating Organic

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There are a lot of ways that I personally am "green" or "organic"--but I do so for reasons other than you find listed conventionally. For example, a lot of my "green"-ness I would actually attribute to "frugality" and my "organic" things are simply because it tastes better to me, is cheaper, and/or safer.

I know that when you become a parent, you start to analyze everything in life. I also know that being organic right now is a popular lifestyle, so I am sure it is something you either have pondered, or will (especially now! lol).

I know some of you are going to ask what I do organically, so I will tell you. One thing is we grow as much of our own food as possible. I just think fresh fruits and veggies taste far better than anything I can buy--even from a farmer's market. I also know it is less expensive, and I know that the food is the healthiest immediately after picking.

I am also someone who seems to believe plants should take care of themselves withing reason. I water and I weed and that is it (which frankly is enough!). This fall, we used manure for the first time ever. It was free from my parents. That is as close as I get to fertilizing.

We get our eggs primarily from my grandfather. If not from him, our neighbor. We get our beef from my grandfather or from people a block from us. We get our milk and much dairy from an organic dairy (though it is definitely pasteurized).

I make foods from scratch. So much better tasting. And the ingredient list is short and simple. I don't like processed foods because they don't taste good to me. Plus I do have concern over what they will do to our bodies.

I turn stuff off when I am not using it. This isn't in effort to be green--it is to save money.

I make my own cleaners. I feel better about them--though I do own harsh cleaners if I need them.

I use re-usable shopping bags because they hold so much more and I can make fewer trips after grocery shopping.

We recycle...

Those are a few ways. I bet if you think about it, you will find you are more green and organic than you think.

Since I would not classify myself as "organic," and since I like to have at least a spring board for you to review on anything parenting related, I thought I would ask my friend Bethany to write about her experience with organic living. She has been making the switch slowly, which I think is a manageable way for most people. Here are her thoughts:


I did not grow up eating organic. I especially did not eat organic or sometimes even
relatively healthy particularly in the early years of my marriage. There were many nights
we just ate a box of angel hair pasta buttered with Country Crock. Sometimes it was
burritos with canned refried beans. Oh, the memories!

It really was not until after I had my second child that I truly started paying more
attention to what we were eating. Even with my son, my first child, I thought we ate
pretty healthy. While I was pregnant with my daughter, I kept hearing more and more
about a book called the Makers Diet. I actually heard about it from two good friends in a
Babywise group on BabyCenter. It was written by Jordan Rubin, and it focuses on eating
whole foods, organic if possible, in the best form possible. What intrigued me the most
was the results my friends saw after changing their ways of life (it is much more than a
diet!). One friend was relieved of her migraines and lost weight even though it was not
planned, and her husband regained his sense of smell and was cured of insomnia. The
other friend was cured of severe, unrelenting, disabling GI distress. I too struggled with
severe chronic insomnia so I was captivated.

The book that really changed the way we eat was The Great Physician Rx, also by Jordan
Rubin. It is a much slower approach to incorporating whole foods whereas the Makers
Diet is more of a detox. I wish I could make a huge drastic change and only buy organic
and whole foods, but that is neither practical nor possible for our family at this point. I
have decided to take more of a babysteps approach. One by one we look for areas we can
change or improve.

To eat organically, you do not have to change all at once. Here are some of the baby
steps we have taken. Probably the biggest change we made was the way we did our
grocery shopping. We had just started becoming very proficient at couponing and saving
hundreds on our grocery bill each month, but we were saving money on processed,
preservative-filled food. We have slowly been making the switch to whole foods, and
there just are not many coupons for organic foods. One of the ways I make our money
stretch is to buy organic ground beef in bulk and to stick to the list of Dirty Dozen
foods and the top Clean 15 foods on the Environmental Working Group’s
website. I also go to my local health food store and buy only what is on sale.

We have also started buying a lot of our foods from local growers, and I only buy organic
milk from a nearby dairy. Below is a list of some references for eating organic. Another
thing that has helped me is meal planning. I did not really have to meal plan when I had
boxes of pasta and cans of vegetables. Now I really put a lot more time into what we
are going to be eating for the week, and it ensures that I do not rely on processed food as

We do not eat entirely organic. It just is not possible. We have cut out mostly processed
foods and as many preservatives as possible. We use whole milk, whole cream, real
butter, grass fed meat, wild caught fish, and as many fruits and vegetables as possible.
Once we had kids and I became better educated about what healthy means, I felt like no
amount of pesticide or preservatives were a “safe amount.”

Back to my version of the Makers Diet, I no longer have insomnia. It has come back
a few nights but usually not for more than one or two nights. I am 10 lbs less than my
pre-pregnancy weight with my second child. My children are extremely healthy. We
battle the common cold more often now that my son is in Mother’s Morning Out, but that
is usually the worst of it. Even my husband has noticed the difference and has started
eating more consciously. Eating organic has opened up a whole new way of life for us,
one step at a time. If you would like to learn more about our baby steps journey, please
visit my blog at



Emily said...

We are also on the Maker's Diet style of eating, but I got into it after reading a Michael Pollan book. (I really recommend Nina Planck's 'Real Food,' though.)

I wanted to mention something about the cost, because I always felt that eating organic/natural was a waste of money. We do spend more now on groceries, especially since I was an extreme couponer before. However, we are more conscientious about not letting any food go to waste because it costs more. So we eat less food overall.

Also, there are several studies out there about how much more nutritious pastured animal foods are. For instance, an egg from a pastured (note--not necessarily just "free range") chicken has 1⁄3 less cholesterol, 1⁄4 less saturated fat, 2⁄3 more vitamin A, 2 times more omega-3 fatty acids, 3 times more vitamin E, 7 times more beta carotene.

So with many better quality foods, you may be paying twice as much, but you can eat less and get much more than twice the nutrients.

Read more:

Janice said...

Huzzah! Thank you for this post. I am a babywise mom and a local farmer in Iowa. I actually just posted on the topic of local food being too expensive!!

Don't forget the aspect of barter! And a trip to a local farm makes an absolutely great day trip with the kids. (although it's more pleasant when it's warm!) I first started eating local after reading Holy Cows and Hog Heaven by Joel Salatin and I started in January of all seasons. But even then I lost 10 lbs in the first 6 months! (and I didn't just detox, I went fairly slowly and mostly started cooking more).

As a local farmer in the middle of conventional ag land, Thank you for posting about this!

Ray and Kelly Siler said...

Oh please don't switch to a partial feed for Google Reader - it's such a hassle! Links within your article will bring readers to your site. (I'm not sure if this happened this way just because this was sort of a guest post or not, but I thought I'd let you know that it's sort of a nuisance. Also, this is the first time I noticed it -- this post.) Thanks!

Maryea {Happy Healthy Mama} said...

Thank you for this post. I'm so glad that awareness on the importance of eating whole, organic foods is growing.
I posted about my journey towards an organic diet on Happy Healthy Mama:

grace said...

this is a out-of-topic comment.. but to add, please don't switch to partial feed for google reader. makes reading so much more hassle :(

Plowmanators said...

Thank you everyone for your added comments and thoughts!

Plowmanators said...

Ray and Kelly Siler,

I had some friends really convince me to go to partial feeds. You were the first one to complain (there have been two total), and it took you almost a week to notice. And since I switched, I am getting a lot more traffic to the site, so I think I will probably keep it this way.

Plowmanators said...

Grace, see the comment I just wrote to Ray and Kelly Siler.


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