I firmly believe that what I feed myself and the wee ones has bearing on both our long term health and on our current moods and functioning. I know that when I feed Mister Man junk food or too much sugar or not enough protein - or just let him go too long without eating - he doesn't do well. We all get crabby, our brains don't work as well as they normally do, and our focus is gone. For him, especially, that's critical.
Add in all the things we hear all the time about pesticides and how animals are raised and the like, and it's enough to give me (more) grey hair. I started awhile ago buying organic fruits and veggies from the "dirty dozen" for our house. And I've definitely cut down on the meat we buy, although I still haven't gone fully organic on that. Chicken pretty much is, but oh the beef is so expensive.
Milk was my other area of concern, especially with all the added hormones. I can see puberty coming earlier and earlier to children around me, and I want to ensure that the wee ones have that pushed back as long as possible, especially for Mister Man - I want to ensure he's developed as much maturity as possible before those hormones wreak havoc on him.
Every time I looked at the price of organic milk, however, I flinched. I was buying a gallon of milk for $1.17 most of the time. A half gallon of organic milk was far more than that. I kept pushing it off, shuddering at the price differential. One day, I took a closer look at what I was buying for Little Miss. Because of her dairy allergy, she drinks rice milk (we don't do soy milk for a variety of reasons), and she gets organic rice milk because it's what's available. And I buy it because I have to. A gallon's worth of rice milk costs far more than the $1.17 I was paying for regular milk at the time and I wasn't flinching there. In fact, each 32 ounce container is only a quarter gallon. And it cost me $1.32 per container.
Suddenly the light went on. I'm not flinching at the price because in my mind, I have to do it for Little Miss's health. I have to do it for her. And really, it's the same for Mister Man. I do have to do it for him. And for us. I haven't bought conventional milk since that day.
I'm still struggling with many of the other purchases. I love that so many products are now readily available in organic versions, especially my frozen corn - thank you Costco. I buy organic for a lot of reasons, and GMOs are a big reason for me. (Yeah yeah, I would do better just moving to Europe, I know.) I'm pretty comfortable with most of what I'm doing right now, although I'm sure that will change over the years.
The one thing I really want to switch but haven't remains meat. What I really want to do is to find a local farmer and buy my half cow or pig from him. You would think that living near Chicago, it would be easy to find somewhere to do this, but I've found that it's surprisingly difficult. I still haven't found a good source that's a reasonable drive from me. It just isn't out there - or at least not well-publicized.
But I'm still searching. I have a friend who does cows from Indiana, and I'm hoping to go with her the next time she buys. When I go to a restaurant that talks in their menus about their locally sourced meats, I ask them if the farm sells to individuals or only commercially. Finally, I started reading the From Left to Write book for this month, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver. There are some really uncomfortable bits of information about food, but at the same time, it's really empowering - and motivating - for me.
And I found the coolest website. Eat Wild is a site devoted to sharing information on pasture based farms across the US. When I searched Illinois, I was shocked by how many farms there were relatively near me. I hadn't been able to find these on my own, but it's truly inspiring. Most of those that provide the quarter cow (probably all we need) don't "harvest" until July, which was a bit of a downer. The options are out there, however, and I'm feeling good. I'm debating a drive out to Jo Daviess County in a couple weeks to spend the day with my family there and pick up some frozen beef from a farm while I'm at it.
It still isn't cheap. But I know where my meat is coming from this way. And it's less than the $13 per pound for organic ground beef I fainted over the last time I was at Trader Joe's. In fact, many were $4 per pound for the organic ground beef. As little as we're using red meat now, I can handle that.
Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go investigate CSAs. I haven't belonged to one since Mister Man was a baby, but I'm feeling inspired. A little freaked out and overwhelmed, but I'm oddly ok with that. I know I can't do everything, and I don't expect that of myself. On that note, not everyone has the same opinions and beliefs about their food, and that's ok, too. Where do you fall on the organic train?
In the interest of full disclosure, this post was inspired by the February From Left To Write book club selection "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" by Barbara Kingsolver. I received a copy of this book for review purposes, but unlike other book clubs, we write a post inspired by the book rather than a review of the book. All opinions are my own, as always, and I received no compensation.