I’m so excited! Whole Foods has organic blueberries on Sale FRIDAY ONLY for $1.99 a pint. Jeff and I are sooooo stocking up. You see, I wait for events like this. No matter how much I might be craving blueberries, I won’t buy them when they are twice that price (or more). I’ll go with another, less expensive fruit and bide my time. It’s so worth it.

My weekly Full Circle box was filled with good things yesterday. Organic nectarines, pluots, apples, oranges, a green cabbage, spring onions, spinach, baby lettuces, radishes, mushrooms, chard and red dandelion greens. I substituted the last two for the avocados and tomatoes that were supposed to be in the box. I’m sort of avoiding tomatoes at the moment because later this summer I will have more tomatoes than I can eat coming out of my own garden…and they’ll taste even better if I wait.
As for the avocados? That’s one item I rarely buy organic. When you are trying to spend your grocery dollars smartly, and want to buy organic foods but can’t afford to buy everything organic, then you should focus on those foods where organic makes a BIG difference. A good place to start is with the Environmental Working Group’s “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean 15” lists. Avocados are #4 on the clean list (less pesticide use). On the other hand, non-organic apples, nectarines and leafy greens are among the most pesticide-laden crops. I love my dark leafy greens (they are among the very best, most nutritious, most health-promoting foods you can put in your mouth), so I’m willing to pay more to buy organic, during those times when I don’t have my own supply coming out of my own organic garden.
What about meat? Yes, organic is very important with any fat-containing food (meat, dairy, eggs, oils) because pesticides and other toxins can accumulate in fat. But I have a small caveat. When I’m buying these foods in a shop, I absolutely go organic. However, the 1/4 beef and the 1/2 pig we buy each year are not certified organic. Instead, they are local. I know how impossible the national organic standards can be for small farmers (especially if they lease land or have other farmers’ land directly butting up to theirs). I know the people who raise my meat. I talk to them at least a few times a year. I know they care for their animals, and that those animals are able to express their pig and cow/steer natures during their lifetime. To me, that trumps certified organic meat from a farm I will never see and a rancher I will never talk to.
(As I said a few days ago, if you eat meat and can get your paws on a freestanding freezer and can lay out the money to buy a share of a steer, pig, lamb or goat, then you should do it. I know it can seem scary to pay for a year’s worth of meat all at once, but the price per pound ends up being a bargain.)
For healthy affordable food, going local (which often means going seasonal) can be good for your wallet, your waistline and your community. It’s summer…get yourself to a farmer’s market! It’s a heck of a lot more fun than shopping in a supermarket under bad lighting. And lest you think that farmers’ markets are more expensive, let me knock that idea out of your heads with this article. Besides, you should always shop smartly wherever you buy your food. There are many fruit and veggie options, and some will be more expensive than others.
Before I forget, I was digging through all the bookmarks I had on affordable nutrition, and found a few goodies to share:
  • A New York Times “Well” blog article from 2008, “Money Is Tight, And Junk Food Beckons.” It digs deeper into the issues of food budget limitations ($1 a day) and time issues (working two jobs) than I have this week. Really, really worth a read.
  • Now, this article is so up my alley. “Five Make-Ahead Musts.” Yes, yes, yes! Read it, then live it! This is exactly the type of thing I’ll be doing more diligently come fall.
  • And finally, “Healthy Food Costs More–A Myth?” which puts forth the idea that healthy food doesn’t necessarily cost more, but most people have trouble spotting the truly more nutritious foods in the first place.