My friend Tracy watched Food Inc. a few days ago and I am so impressed! Instead of burying her head in the sand she is being PROACTIVE! Go GIRL!
She emailed me some Q & A, so here is my 411!
Do you buy all organic?
I do not buy all organic. If I am not sure whether or not something needs to be organic I google it and do some reasearch. I try to buy organic when it is something my kids consume a lot of. I also go by the rule of buying organic when the “skin is thin”.
Go organic: apples, peaches, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, cherries, grapes, pears, nectarines, peppers, celery, potatoes, and carrots
Save your cash: avocados, eggplants, pineapples, bananas, corn, kiwi, mangoes, papaya, sweet peas, oranges, grapefruit, and squash
Go organic: all lettuces and greens such as kale, collards, mustard, swiss chard, and spinach
Save your cash: broccoli, cabbage, asparagus, cauliflower, eggplant, melons, and sweet potatoes
Go organic: milk, yogurt, and cheese (milk and yogurt I am firm on. String cheese I also buy organic because my kids eat a lot of it. I buy regular cheese for sprinkling on chili or a quesadilla because we eat soooo little of it.)
You can also buy a lot of organic berries frozen, and I use those in shakes every day!
Eating organic seems really expensive?
I thought so too at first, but if you pay attention it really isn’t that much more. Given that eating cleaner also led us to eating at home more, we have saved tons of money (and calories)! Also when you are conscious of what you are eating you buy foods you know you will eat, verses a lot of stuff I just tossed out in the past.
The one thing you realize very quickly is if you eat IN SEASON you will save money. I bought two spaghetti squashes at Trader Joe’s the other day for $1.75 each. They keep forever in a cold, dark place and allow me to feed 4 of us, plus leftovers for about $5 (when I add the pasta sauce and a salad).
Winter has forced me to explore new foods (squash, leeks, carrots, and lentils) that I use to stay away from. I love summer. The farmer markets around here make eating organic, and clean, so EASY!
We don’t eat a lot of meat and that is what gets pricey if you are buying grass-fed (the GMO Corn is as concerning to me as the hormones and antibiotics (we were not raised with these things) being put into our bodies in the amounts our kids are exposed to. We feed this to the cattle, but it is also in almost all of our processed foods).
We eat lots of seafood. Frozen tilapia, and wild Alaskan salmon are pretty inexpensive at Costco.
Join the PCC (or any local co-op). You are supporting local growers, and your local economy, and you know you are getting good stuff! It was a $65 fee to join, and I get a coupon for 10% off every month and you also get 5% off every 15th and 16th of the month and a newsletter with great recipes for eating in season.
Also, I view it as an investment. I would rather spend a bit more up front and keep us all as healthy as possible, than pay downstream in medical bills.
I went to Trader Joe’s today and did pretty good-just paying more attention to labels.
They say to watch the first 3 ingredients, I try to watch the 1st five. Watch for sugar, corn syrup, high-fructose corn-syrup. A clean, clear label with words you can pronounce is a GOOD THING! I think the best book you could read to learn about all of this is Michael Pollan’s, In Defense of Food. He also has a great explanation (cliff notes if you will) in Food Rules, for why and how to eat healthier.
Good rules to follow (when you can)
No high fructose corn syrup.
No trans fats. (hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated)
No saturated fats.
Words you don’t know or cannot pronounce. (Mono- dyglicerides for example)
And extra words, like “added”!
Do you cook every night? If you do, what kind of meals do you make?
I do. If we eat out or do take out as a family it is sushi, subway, taco time or Indian food. Or occasionally we order Zeeks and I get half- no cheese loaded with veggies and sauce (you would be surprised)! It is just easier for me to know what I am putting in my mouth, and to know where it came from and what has been done to it.
We eat lots of lentils (a million ways to cook these and Trader Joe’s has them pre-cooked so you can just add them to a recipe), chili (vegetarian, or turkey-homemade or bought), salmon, tilapia, shrimp, tofu (don’t knock it til you have tried it), soups, salads (oil and vinegar, or a variation….no more ranch or other sugar and fat dressings), and whole grains. Whole grain pastas, wild rice, brown rice, quinoa, and tabouleh (this one takes 30 minutes and just hot water). And I do cook chicken, and red meat, just not often, and I do buy it from the PCC or Whole Foods.
The kids love chili night, my tortilla soup, and we make pizzas all the time-their FAV! It is amazing what kids will put on their pizza if they help put it in the topping bowls, and then we just throw them on the BBQ. (Whole foods and TJ both sell pizza dough for under $3.00).
We bought some crab for Valentine’s Day, so tonight was crab cakes, shrimp and a salad – YUMMERS!
What do you send with your kids for lunch?
What is tough about lunches is being creative, and making it fun enough that they don’t harp on wanting all the crud the kid next to them has! The first day of school this year James came home asking when he could have a gogurt? So we had a chat about food, verses fun food, verses sugar, chemicals and food coloring masquerading as yogurt. It is impossible to ask your kids to eat healthy if you do not. I have found my kids are pretty cool about it because they want to be like Mom and Dad. Some day that will change, and then I will focus on how those “fun foods” make us feel (tired, lethargic, thristy…so on).
There is no peanut butter allowed at his school so it is turkey cheese, sunbutter, cream cheese and jelly. The key is the bread, this is where I try to make it as nutritious as possible. We also do wraps and he likes hummus, turkey,cream cheese, cucumbers. I do send a juice every other day, but you can find them without HFCS and lots of the other junk… I wish he would drink water everyday but I want to keep it fun too. We then send a fruit-seasonal, so right now it is small tangerines, apple slices, or pear slices. We also send hummus and chips. He loves cucumber slices with lemon pepper on them (so do I)).
The junk food/treat is either stretch island fruit leather, kids cliff bar (Costco), dried mango slices (Costco), or a cookie (they might be organic, or vegan, he doesn’t know nor care). I look for things that maybe aren’t perfect, but better than the alternative. Last week the kid next to him got 8 OREOS, a chocolate milk, and some Cheeze-Its for lunch. I sware, people have lost their minds!
I will post my Costco and Trader Joe’s Grocery lists, the staples that I always pick up. I still hit Safeway for basics, and their organic brand is pretty good. I have not been down any of the middle aisles at Safeway in ages.