January 20, 2010

How to Find Good, or At Least Better, Prices on Organics

This is part of a continuing series on changing your life one step at a time for a healthier you and a healthier family. To read previous posts click here.

A quick note and/or question to someone who might know the answer. Earlier this week, I went to my dashboard and all the blogs I am following were gone. This has happened before. Another odd thing is that some blogs were not updating on my dashboard, Vanessa at More than Mommy, is one that comes to my mind. Does anyone have any idea why or what to do about this? Brianna's was doing this, also, and I stopped following and started following again and it fixed the problem... but what a pain to have to do that on everyone's blog. As my friend Hope says, sometimes I think life was much better B.C. (Before computers.)

Now, on to business. Right about now I am guessing that you are all having sticker shock at some of the huge prices for organics. Had my post not been so long already, I would have taken the time to tell you that there are lots of ways to find better prices on organics. Part of the trick is to know what is worth buying organic and what is not.

At the top of your list should be dairy and meat products. Easier said than done when you are working on a budget. And who isn't? Try a budget times 9 people. It adds up quick. One of the ways I keep costs down is to buy local. I have paid up to $5 for a dozen organic eggs at the local grocery store. However, by asking around, I found a coworker of my father who raises his own organic chickens and sells the eggs for $1.50 a dozen. I put in a standing order for 7 dozen a week to be sure that I always get what I need before they run out. Word of mouth is the best way to find a source such as this because anyone advertising will have more overhead and likely charge more. Not having luck finding those chickens by word of mouth? Take a Sunday drive out to the country and stop by some local farms. Chances are there is a small farmer out there just looking for someone to buy his eggs, chickens or maybe milk, too.

As for dairy products, you must shop around to be sure you are getting the best price. One might assume, for instance, that Walmart has the cheapest price on everything. However, we can buy our organic milk at the most expensive grocery store in town for considerably less per gallon than what the super walmart charges. I haven't the time or inclination to run from market to market to get a good deal on everything, but my hubby is near that store at least once a week and doesn't mind running in to grab a few gallons of milk for me.

I have already told you about our local butcher, who has the best quality meat I have ever found. I always assumed I would pay more there because they are a small family owned business. In fact, pound for pound it is far less than any of the grocery stores in town and it is a product I feel good serving my family. It pays to do your research and home work, ladies!

It also pays to become friends with the people you do business with. By taking the time to ask questions of the butchers I deal with, I found out that Thursday is the day they butcher the chickens so I can pop in and get the freshest meat possible. Thursday happens to be my regular errand day, also, so it is no extra running for me. I also found out I can call my order in and they will have it ready for me. When I stop in, they say, "Hey, there's the lady with the ten kids (yes, they know that I only have seven but they like to tease)" and then tell me what the specials are that I shouldn't miss out on.

Another product that should be at the top of your organics list is apples. Yes, apples. Apples are treated with more toxins and store the toxins more readily than many other fruits. So if you are making just one change, buy organic apples.

And believe it or not, if you are a coffee drinker, coffee should be one of your top five organic choices. Coffee beans are treated with a considerable amount of toxins and is one of the most toxic foods we consume on a regular basis. There are lots of organic coffee choices out there and you will be pleased that they don't cost an arm and a leg. Even Target has an excellent tasting organic coffee choice that is very reasonably priced.

See how easy that is? Dairy, eggs, meat, apples and coffee.

I intended to talk about bread this week, but there were a number of comments and questions from last week that I would like to address. For time's sake, I will save Jen T.'s questions and comments on bread for a more in depth post next week.

First, I want to thank Tony for mentioning the Farmer's Markets in his comment last week. Farmer's Markets are a great resource. If you can't buy your meat, dairy and eggs there you can make contact with other people who can tell you where to get them direct. Talk to vendors and other customers for names of small farmers with products to sell.

Another resource is your local Cooperative Extension Office. One of my best sources for referrals and information over the years has been the friend I made at our local extension office about fourteen years ago. She not only has lots of good information, but a quick email to her gets me names, numbers and emails for just about anything I am looking for in the farming community.

My local home school email list has also been a wonderful way to connect with small farmers who provide everything from goats milk and eggs to free range turkeys. We even found a source for duck's eggs through this list. Not a home schooler or you don't have a list you subscribe to? Check out Freecycle Cafe and Craig's list to get quick references for any service or product you could possibly need.

Carol mentioned coops in her comment last week. I did not mention our coop last week because my focus was on meat and dairy but coops should not be underestimated. A coop run by a local family that we worship with provides us with great prices on produce. This has been a tremendous savings for us over the years and an encouragement to eat well when finances were tight. Grocery store pickings for produce can often be slim or definitely not always the freshest. Having a place to go for fresh produce year round makes it possible for us to get the nutrition we need on a budget we can manage. While ours only deals with fruits and veggies there are coops out there that supply meat and dairy products from local farmers. How do you find one... word of mouth, farmer's markets, extension office, newspaper... see other suggestions I have already mentioned above.

Carin mentioned knowing people who butcher their own beef. We happen to live in the middle of a farming community and my husband comes from a family of farmers who do their own butchering. That provides people in our area with lots of options for healthier meat sources. I don't know how common it is to know a local farmer who does their own butchering in other parts of the country but the places I have mentioned above for contact info could help you to find someone. Just to recap you can try asking around your local farmer's markets, contacting your coop extension office, email lists and word of mouth.

Kristin, thanks for your testimony of how little changes over time really do work. I have a friend who grew up in the south eating nutrition less white rice. She too found, over time her family came to prefer what they initially balked at, meaning the healthier brown rice choice. Just as your families may turn their noses up at wheat bread and cereals free of high fructose corn syrup, they will eventually come to prefer them. But let's not get ahead of ourselves!

Lindsay-Ann, I feel for you. My hubby is a picky eater and he has been my greatest challenge on the healthy eating boat. But he did eventually come around. You know one thing is, if the kids have no choice, they will get hungry enough to eat what is served. If that method is too harsh for you, don't worry. Taste buds can be changed!

As for variety, I have a cook book with 365 ways to cook chicken. If you start with a nice organic piece of meat, there is lots of variety to be had there, that will please the whole family, even when your choice is not to eat red meat. There is lots of variety out there, and we can explore that at another time, it just takes stretching our minds once in a while. It is easy to get stuck in a cooking rut with our busy schedules!

Maybe this will help? Tonight we worked late on school and I was in a hurry to make dinner. I had taken nothing out and yet in thirty minutes we had a well balanced, nutritious dinner that my family raved about. I started by laying plain old fashioned fish fillets on a baking pan. Then I spread each with about 1 teaspoon of a honey/bbq/mustard blend. I opened the fridge to see what else I had and found a jar of roasted red peppers leftover from hubby's birthday last week. I sliced a few very thin and laid the strips across the fish. Then I found some spinach and put a little bit on top of each. To finish it off, I thinly sliced some asiago cheese. In the over for 12 minutes and voila! No work, no fuss, no time. Dinner done-healthy, fast and delicious!

I stand to say, and this is strictly my opinion, that if your hubby likes some good old fashioned beef once in a while, there is nothing wrong with that as long as you make the best choice you can. To me that means a nice chemical free, hormone free, additive free steak. There is always compromise to consider, too. Why not serve beef one night a week or every other week? He feels like he is getting something and you can serve chicken and fish the rest of the week without complaint.

Now, please do not get me started on cafeteria food! I won no points with my mother-in-law, who happened to be a dietitian for our local school board, when I told her that the pizza and other processed foods served to our school students had no business being called food at all. I agree, there is nothing healthy on the school menus so we can go pretty far in helping our kids be healthier by packing nutritious lunches that they will eat. This is a challenge in itself but there are some fun tricks and good cook books out there that deal with this topic. I will address that down the road and perhaps you will share with us some things that you have learned along the way?

Mimi, you can get there! We will do it together.

Rachel, good for you to have made such a big change already. Maybe you will let us know what differences you have noticed and how it has impacted your family for the better. Also, maybe you have some resource and money saving secrets you would share?

Wow! That is all the time I have for this week. Where does the time go? Stop back next week to read the exciting answers to Jen T.'s riveting questions about grinding wheat and how to make great bread choices if you are baking impaired.

For more Works For Me Wednesday posts visit We are That Family.



  1. WOW Kat you truly inspire me. Your knowledge is really so valuable, and thank you for your time to share it and post it.

    About your dashboard and followers...no help there. That would not be cool to have that happen...sorry it happened to you.

  2. Great tips! Over the years we have made many, adjustments in our overall eating, and I too have found one thing at a time works best.

    When I first had the desire to eat better I initially cleared out my pantry, cupboards and fridge for a full blown make over...way too hard to make that many changes at once!

    As far as stubborn hubby's my is at the top of the list...still. There are many things he will not switch on, for example bread, so in these area's as much as I hate to do it, I have to buy bread for "us" and bread for "him" YA...stubborn!!!

    Enjoyed your post and your tips! Thanks

  3. Kat,
    I have been having issues with blogger this week, too. I heard on the news that google's gmail had been hacked and this was the cause of some issues. I wish the crazy people who do not have a life would stay away from cyber space. Okay, I will get off my soap box before I fall off and get hurt.

  4. Thanks for entering my giveaway. In a nutshell, if you win, I'll send you a gift. then you do the same on your blog. host a giveaway, select 2 winners, send them a little gift, (encourage them to do the same on their blogs)

  5. Love your tips on organic foods. We have a Natural Grocery and I've found out what days they put items on their clearance shelves and I have gotten so many good deals this way. On a side note my sister is a dietican and just got a job with the Colorado Springs School district in which they do organic food in the cafeteria and have gardens at the schools. I pray this catches on for all the other schools out there, wouldn't that be wonderful!
    Glad I found your blog:)

  6. I never thought about looking for a local farmer that sells eggs for cheap...I'll have to do some digging. On another note, I was in Trader Joes shopping this week and I heard a husband say to his wife while they were picking out apples, "those organic prices are ridiculous, there is no need to spend more money for the same thing." I wanted to butt into the conversation and go on about pesticides and our health and our planet, but I stopped myself.

    As far as saving money, I have not found much cheaper places to buy my local meat and organic/local veggies, but I have found that by cutting out prepackaged foods we have saved money that way. I stopped buying pre-made meals and packaged food and I have started making more home cooked options. This has not only saved our wallets, but has made us a much healthier family....so we feel good doing it!

  7. Hey, Kat~

    You are such a plethora of information! We have recently started to eat more organic whenever we possibly can. We have a Farmer's Market here from May through October that is WONDERFUL for purchasing local products. In just a few short weeks, we will be getting some chickens and we plan on raising them organic and hopefully, sell the eggs. I already have a bunch of people who want the eggs, so I am EXCITED about that! :> )

    Thank you so much for all the love you put into your posts!

    As for dashboard, I have had that happen to me many times since I started on blogger, however, I don't have any reasoning for it. I used to think that it was my computer, but I can see now that it is not. YAY!! lol