Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Discovering a New City and Organic Foods

Welcome to the January 2012 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Experiments in Natural Family Living
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have reported on weeklong trials to make their lives a little greener and gentler. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

     One of the reasons that I opted to use baby-led solids was that it made more sense to me and sounded easier than traditional baby-food.  Just give Q-ball what we were eating. Selfish, I know. But, as the days go on, I often find myself fixing meals for Daddy and me and thinking, "I can't give this to Q-ball!" The most common reasons are: the the food is too salt-laden because it is a canned vegetable or because of pesticides in fresh, conventional produce.  So, I asked myself, if Q-ball shouldn't eat it, should my husband and I be eating it?  Thus, I opted to revamp our eating for at least a week (my standard meal planning and shopping schedule) to be as natural and local as possible.   Here's what we did.
At one of the markets
   First stop- the farmers' markets to pick up produce.  The timing actually worked out perfectly.  My husband and I have always loved visiting farmers' markets, but since moving to our new city, we haven't found the time.  I was excited to learn there are farmers' markets four days of the week here- all across the city!  So, it was a great way to visit different parts of our new town.  We found lots of yummy fresh produce as well as salsas and jellies and bread.
   Second stop- a "local" meat market.  I'd noticed a small, family-owned meat market in the center of town.  Since Daddy likes meat, I thought I'd check it out.  I'd assumed they would sell some local meats and other ingredients and possibly organic/natural meat.  Well, I could not have been more wrong.  The owner's son couldn't even tell me where any of their food came from.  And, to top it all off, most of their meats were frozen (for who knows how long!)   
   Third stop- local natural, grocery stores.  In the past, I have purchased very few packaged organic products, with the exception of my frozen veggie meals and the occasional splurges. Cost has been the primary prohibiting factor in shopping for organic products, but our main grocery store also sells very few organic products.  We live within a five minute walk of a small store that specializes in natural foods.  Q-ball and I have been going a few times a week to get produce for her meals, but this week we expanded our search.  We bought milk, eggs, OJ, pasta, pasta sauce, cereals, bread, coffee- everything we needed for the week.
Chicken and Eggplant Parm
   We kept our standard cereal with berries and milk breakfasts and fruit, yoghurt, and sandwiches for lunches, but just ate organic versions.  Some of our dinners included butternut squash and spinach lasagne, a cookout with beef (for Daddy) and veggie (for me) burgers and veggie skewers, crab meat and spinach quiche, and chicken (for Daddy) and eggplant (for me) Parmesan over pasta.
    The food didn't necessarily taste any different than conventional food, but we did eat more fresh (vs. frozen) vegetables than normal.   And, we did get to try some products we never would have otherwise, such as sprouted wheatgrass ziti.  It was delicious!  I'm also now a big fan of sprouted sandwich bread.  The organic spaghetti we purchased was the one item in which I could tell a big taste difference in our normal pasta- the texture and taste were much, much better. 

  1. Plan Ahead.  The selection at some of the markets was more spares than usual because of the holidays, which made finding variety more difficult (luckily we like butternut squash...)
  2. But, not too much. I usually make a pretty detailed weekly meal plan before shopping, but as I did not know all of the ingredients that would be available, so meals were planned at the store.  
  3. Do not assume "local" means local. Out meat shop expereince taught me to always ask about your food.
  4. We love outdoor markets!  I love the fresh fruits and vegetables and other specialty items, and Q-ball loves checking out all of the sites and the attention from the vendors!
  5. Taste.  I was surprised that some of the food did taste better.  I love sprouted bread!
  6. Cost.  It's true that buying organics can be much more expensive than conventional fare, and, as a frugal person, this is what I still struggle with.  However, Charise from I Thought I Knew Mama shared the following a while back that struck a chord with my American and capitalist values,  "every time you go to the grocery store, you are voting." With this idea in mind, I have been more likely be buy organic, despite the price.  
   One of my goals in the next few weeks is to continue to integrate more organic food into our routine by replacing conventional items that I currently have on hand and by trying some new recipes.  I know that I won't buy us organic products 100% of the time, mainly because of price and/or availability.  But, I am now be a much more educated consumer in that I know what products are available and where to get them.  Additionally, I know that if I make some swaps to items that we currently buy (like replacing my cold cereal habit with organic oats), our grocery bill will actually not increase too dramatically, if at all.

   Does your family only eat organics? Why have you made the switch, or why haven't you made the switch? Do you have shopping tips to keep my budget in check or other ways to integrate organics into our routine?

Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:


  1. Being parents has really raised our awareness of how unhealthily we were eating in certain ways too!
    We haven't switched over to organics, mainly because of price, but this summer I'm going to try to grow some of the veggies on the "dirty dozen" list myself...we'll see if it works!

  2. Mmm your quiche sounds delicious. I'd like to make more of an effort to shop at our farmer's markets too. Good for you for making the effort to be healthier for your whole family!

  3. Lani @ Boobi Time BlogJune 26, 2012 at 9:10 AM

    I love supporting local farmers markets and local industry in general. I kind of go by this mode of thinking as to where to shop... Farmers market, local organic, local conventional, organic chain store, regular chain store. Its harder in the winter. But in the summer there are lots of possibilities! I am also looking into doing a local (preferably organic) CSA for this year. Thanks for the post.

  4. Thanks so much for your suggestions. I'm definitely feeling the same pull to eat more local and organic food and think that's next on my to-do list. I have the same reason: We're doing baby-led weaning but often have nothing on our plates worth giving our baby. Whoops!

  5. We eat mostly organic, I'd say we're 80/20. I second the idea of buying into a CSA, lots of veggies that are fresh, organic and in season. It also gives you a great opportunity to try things you'd normally not buy. We also have a food co-op in my town where they offer members days where you get an extra 10% off- I'm sure not to miss their discount days.
    Farmer's Markets have recently boomed in my town, so that has been so exciting! it spoils you! This time of year I hate when I have to buy my organic veggies in plastic, that just seems so wrong!
    Thanks for sharing!

  6. I love this post, especially the lessons learned. Finding wholesome, local, real food in a new city can be daunting! Thank you for a great perspective, one that is honest and shows where there may be some limitations. I love that you have a meat market! I would be lost without ours! XO, Jennifer of Hybrid Rasta Mama

  7. I know what you mean about organics in plastic. I'm still debating with myself if it is better to by fresh, conventional bell peppers (we eat lots and lots of these) or frozen, pre-sliced organic. I'm leaning towards the frozen since bell peppers are on the dirty dozen, but it seems strange.

  8. I'm going to try to start a garden, too. But, I'm terrible. I kill herbs that other people say grow like weeds. I hope I have better luck this time!

  9. What a great challenge! I love that you were able to learn more about your new city, too, and I adore that photo of your little family. You're all beautiful! We eat organic as much as possible, but the availability here is really, disappointingly limited.

  10. Just make sure to research your CSAs just like everyone else, we had issues with ours.

    Also, note that a CSA doesn't give you the option of what to buy, so you may end up with small amounts of random things.

    We opted for a local organic delivery service that we can customize and like it so much more!


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