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.
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