Monday, June 28, 2010

Organic Challenge: What's Your View?

I set up a challenge for myself this weekend. I shopped at Whole Foods instead of my regular big, Texas grocery. My challenge was to see if I could stay within the budget and buy nearly everything organic. I was a little leery. Every time I've been to Whole Foods, I've been blown away by the prices and not in a good way.

My biggest reason for doing this is because of my kids. Knowing what I know about meats particularly, has made me want to make the change from conventional to organic. Hormones, steroids, anti-biotics, pesticides in the animal's food, poor living conditions etc. just doesn't sound tasty to me.

So here we were, the entire crew. My husband starts out pushing the wonky "car" cart, which I told my kids that we were NOT using, until I got to the door of the store and saw they had a less wonky version of what I was used to and then I said "okay". Oh how their little faces lit up. So easy to please at this age.

I'm in the hyper-mommy mode. Large cup of coffee, minimal breakfast, on a time crunch (my in-laws will be at the house at noon with lunch) and trying to wheel this ridiculously large cart around in a unfamiliar territory. I don't know where anything is. I'm trying to figure out which vegetables are organic and which are not. Flabbergasted by the price on the bell peppers. We mow through 3 a week, just snacking on them. Here I was looking a the price of $4.99 per lb and not even organic! Whoa. Okay. But then I saw the variety of organic potatoes, reasonably priced and I was okay.

It was a mixture of highs and lows. Re-adjusting my mental shopping calculator. I realized it's going to take some time to get used to this. I told myself, it's all worth it. If we end up eating less meat and more vegetable main dishes, it's okay. If we have to be less wasteful, that's probably a good idea. I will tell you this much. Because we paid $13.99 per lb. for salmon, free of all the bad stuff, you better believe I will treat it with the utmost care and make sure every bite is eaten. The turkey breast I got, will be used for dinner one night and sandwiches another.

Along with meats, dairy was also a big deal. I want my kiddos to have organic milk, or in Lily's case, organic soy milk. It's definitely more. But what I've done is cut back to where the kids have milk in the morning and water the rest of the day. My pediatrician told me to cut back on the milk, because I was giving it to them every meal. That's how I grew up. We don't drink juice at home, I think it's pointless. And when we go out to eat, getting apple juice is a big treat.

I'm making the mad dash through the store, crumpled list in one hand, fending off my baby boy from trying to steal it with the other, while telling the two "drivers" in the front to stop hitting each other. We finally make it to the freezer section (que angelic music) where they have a play area for tiny tots. So I drop off my husband and the three year olds to go and have fun, while Wil and I go to tackle the rest of the list. My cart is sixty pounds lighter and a bit quieter too! That play area alone has me coming back.

I know I looked like a tourist in the land of organic shopping. A very sweet employee walks up to me and asks if I need help. I tell him this is my maiden voyage here at Whole Foods. He asks if I got a flyer with coupons. I think I squealed with surprise and delight that they would have coupons! Seeing I was pushing the wonkster cart, he ran and got me one. I'm now moving at the speed of light. Rummaging through the coupon flyer looking for anything relevant. I see a couple for cereal. That's good, we eat tons of it. These coupons were substantial. Dollar coupons. I don't think I saw any for less than that. Score!

Side note: If I had the time, I would have spent hours just in the cheese section. Cheese, glorious cheese! Magnificent. Overwhelming. I grab some fresh mozzarella and tear myself away.

I finish up the trip by having a sample of God-knows-what, some energy, green drink that tasted good. Chatted with the lady giving out the samples for a moment. I must always chat with someone at the grocery. I can't help myself. I love talking to people.

I cut back through to pick up the rest of my family at the play area. The kids had so much fun. While other kids go to the pool this summer, we will be hanging out at the Whole Food freezer section play area.

Duh-duh-DUH! (that was supposed to be dramatic organ music) We roll up to the check out. I had been lazily adding up all the stuff in the cart to stay within budget. I know I missed some stuff but I was hoping for the best. After it was all rung up, after coupons (I saved $3.00 on stuff I was going to buy anyways), it was just a few dollars over. I was very impressed. The only thing now is, did we get enough food to last the week? Hmm. I will let you know. I think we can do it. I want to make this work. I want the best for my family.

Overall, my experience was very good. The staff is incredibly knowledgeable.  I love that there are butchers and fishmongers. They know everything about their product. I peppered them with so many questions it made their heads spin, but heck! I'm paying top dollar. I want to know what I am paying for. They didn't miss a beat. I will be going back this Saturday for sure.

So, that my foodie friends, is the "haps on the craps" as my hubs would say. What has been your experience with the organic thing? Or do you think it's a bunch of hot air? Either way, let me know what you think. I would love to hear your ideas.


  1. You know, this is something I often struggle with. Granted I'm only shopping for my boyfriend and I but I think Whole Foods is good for SOME things. For example, I enjoy buying milk, meat, cheeses, vegggies, and some specialty items from them. Usually "healthy" stuff like Luna bars, soy milk, granola, fresh nuts, etc are cheaper at WF than at normal stores just based on turnover. Also, I look for their 365 brand on cereals and other packaged products. Okay, I'm rambling. Anyhow despite my lust of whole foods, some things just need to be purchased from a "normal" store like spices, trash bags, ziplocs, etc. There are eco versions of these at Target so I don't see a need to pay $839732 dollars for them at WF :)

  2. I feel that any animal product (eggs, milk, cheese... meat) should really be organic. Produce is a different story. Our CSA provides much of our produce and for the few items we purchase elsewhere, we do our best to buy organic. I think it's more important to buy local produce than buying organic, though I think we'd all agree that both are ideal.

  3. whole foods can be a little daunting, but I think if it were closer I would shop there more often. One thing I did find out accidentally was that they give you a case price if you buy enough of one item...such as yogurt, they have my favorite yogurt in the world (so much fat it might as well be ice when I bought 12 it was about 30 cents each cheaper...who knew?
    now that wouldn't work for everything but it does help
    I think we have to pick and choose what we want organic..unless of course we win the lottery!

  4. Kashia- I totally agree with you on going to Target for some stuff. In our case, family of 5, we have to get paper products, trash bags and diapers at Sam's Club. SO, yes, WF is not good for everything. Aren't those Luna bars so yum!?

    Thought for Food- I like the CSA idea. that's new to me and I don't know what's around me as far as it goes. I need to do some investigation on that! Organic and local- perfection!

    Dennis- you sound like me, I love the fatty yogurt, though I rarely buy it, but we do eat tons of yogurt around here. I need to check into that case thing. great tip!

  5. Whole Paycheck. It is rough shopping there. I used to go to lunch there, by tuesday my pockets were empty.

  6. Rick- Hilarious! so true. when I was a hairdresser and ate lunch with my tip money, the same thing would happen to me. Wah, wah.

  7. Whole Foods can definitely pinch the pocketbook LOL - I love the produce and cheese section at Trader Joe's, and their healthy frozen selections for when you're in a pinch - i found more organic there than I had at whole foods! i also shop local farmer's market when i can - so between the two i usually find what i need - trader joe's has some killer carne asada, LAMB, and other goodies - it's small and quaint and inexpensive - LOVE IT! but in general, organic any time you can!

  8. Once you go to Wholefoods everything else seems mediocre. I don't buy everything there but what I do buy are the organic produce, fruits, meats and seafood. I have a post on what you should buy organic and what you should not. This way you can save some bucks too because not everything has to be organic. When you're buying salmon or any fish, you should always buy wild. I bought fresh wild atlantic salmon for a whopping $24 a pound the other day. It wasn't previously frozen hence the price. It tastes so much better. Organic is always better in my opinion.

  9. I'm a bit biased here, but I think it's possible to be a smart shopper at Whole Foods. Their 365 brands are often on par or even less than other stores - plus I feel better knowing there are no artificial preservatives, antibiotics or hormones. There are smaller organic stores as well, but all in all, I'd rather pay a bit more for my health. It's too bad that we have come to assume that food should be cheap. It's our health - and we can shortchange that. I love that your children are having fun food shopping!

  10. Jaime- I SO miss Trader Joe's! When we lived in C.A. I was there every week, even though I had to drive twenty minutes. Believe me, I would def be shopping there if we had them in Texas! Their prices rock!

    Lisa-I know! I started buying a few organic items at my reg grocery but wanted to up the quality on meat and seafood. I really like the 365 brand. I'll have to check out your post, thanks Lisa!

    Belinda- I totally agree. I feel like the extra I pay is to better our family's health and it's so worth it!

  11. Lauren, love the blog btw! I will say we have been living "organically" for a little while now. Have you watched Food, Inc...totally changed my life. One thing I hate to do is go to a billion different stores to go grocery shopping. BUT if I want to stay within budget and still buy fresh organic food, I've found that Kroger has a really good organic produce selection for really good $. I like going to whole foods for pantry stuff, if I can't make it there I'll stay at Kroger which is the same or slightly higher than whole foods or HEB has some pretty good organic pantry food. HEB also has good selection of grass fed beef. There is a new famers market over by us Ive been meaning to try because I just can't seem to spend $8.99/lb on ground beef when I only use it to cook a quick blah meal. So until then it's ground turkey. But your right it's so worth it

  12. I am also in love with the cheese section at Whole Foods and I also love how many times you used the word wonky in this post. Fabulous. :)

    I hope the food lasts you all week, and your family will definitely be eating well!

  13. Susan-hey girl, thanks! I sure love this bloggin thing. so much fun. You know, I've never been to Kroger. maybe I should check it out. I only stopped going to HEB because of the meat. They have organic but it never looked fresh cause no one buys it, not much selection either. I was buying their "natural" meats which I felt pretty good about but talking to WF they have really high standards that the meat companies must adhere too. anyways, I like that. I really hate running to a bunch of stores too. It's such a pain. I would love to find a farmers market, but only if they grow the produce themselves and it's organic. I've been to them where they bring other peoples stuff and just sell it.

    Cilantropist- thank you! I love that word. It's so British and weird. It makes me happy everytime I hear it. I will let you guys know on how the food stretches!

  14. Also I just read a report that showed some whole foods brand frozen food wasn't actually organic even though it had the certified label on it. Somewhere on the box in small print it said, made in china. Crazy! So just be aware of that too.

  15. Susan- that just makes me so mad. usually I'm pretty good about reading labels, but that's just stupid. I've often wondered about that, like are we getting what we think we are? I will keep my eyes peeled. thanks!

  16. Hmmm, I have never even been to a Whole Foods store. I've only ever heard that they are expensive and over rated. I buy some things Organic,top 10 produce items you should by organic are on my blog. I also grow some of my own veggies and all of my own herbs. Farmers mrkts are great too, keep it local! We simply don't eat much meat, and seafood I buy from sustainable fisheries and never farmed.


Thanks for stopping by Foodie House! If you have any questions, feel free to leave them here or email me. I appreciate your support and LOVE hearing from my readers!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...