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Eat Organic & Still Save Money
Going Green Without Going Broke
I’m the first to admit, going green isn’t cheap or easy! Nearly everything- from sugar loaded cereals to chicken thighs- have ‘organic’ or ‘all-natural’ labels plastered on their packaging. Of course, with these labels comes a bonus price tag. Oftentimes it can be difficult knowing what organic products are actually worth the investment.
Free-Range Vs. Organic
What is Organic?
Our Great-Grandparents lived on the same food we consider to be ‘cutting-edge’ today. For many years, especially here in the USA, we have turned to unnatural means of production to cut costs, increase profits, and keep us all fat. New methods of farming protect crops from bugs with heavy doses of pesticides, which are commonly sprayed on our foods throughout its development. When brought into our homes, our families are actually eating these pesticides. Organic farming steers clear of unnatural pesticides, or any other substance- such as growth hormones or anything genetically modified. Of course, no one can dispute eating an all-organic diet is much better for you; especially considering the generation predicted to live the longest has eaten the least amount of non-organic, pesticide-sprayed, GMO foods.
Organic eggs are truly a must. They are only a few dollars more and the differences are incredible. Organic eggs have a much thicker shell- it’s actually more difficult to crack an organic egg. All I can figure is healthier chickens lay stronger, healthier eggs. Regular chicken coops- where non-organic eggs come from- are truly hellholes; they are stuffed to the brim with filthy cages and equally filthy chickens. Battered, broken, and sick, it’s no wonder the shells of these chicken’s eggs are more delicate.
There are multiple labels on eggs in a standard grocery store. “Free Range,” “Cage-Free,” and simply, “Organic.” Only one of these is really worth its price tag and that’s “Free Range.”
Out here in California, they love to trick consumers by charging more for eggs that read, “Cage-Free.” My fellow Californians, don’t be tricked! Most all of our eggs come directly from here and in California it is illegal to cage chickens. These “Cage-Free” chickens don’t live any better than their caged ancestors; thousands are crammed into one stinky chicken coop with one tiny window, often too high up for the chickens to even see out of. The California law has given farmers an easy entrance onto the ‘organic’ train without changing any of their actual practices to be more ‘organic.’
“Range Free” is the bonus word although it is MUCH harder to find than organic or cage free. Range Free means, the eggs you are eating come from healthy chickens who live out on a farm, walking around outside in the sunshine all day. Not only are we supporting the humane treatment of animals by purchasing range-free, but we are also protecting our own health. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather eat eggs of a healthy, happy chicken. You are what you eat!
The Meat Isle
Another place full of tricks and unforeseen costs is the meat isle. At most Ralphs, Safeway’s, Albertsons, and other similar markets it’s nearly impossible to find organic meat. Many times, the store will carry what I call an ‘imitation’ of organic, simple labels stuck on boasting “organic” and “all-natural."
The only type of red meat anyone should be eating is “grass-fed.” Unfortunately, what used to be standard is now extremely costly. To eat a cow that has been fed grass, kept healthy, and not fed genetically modified food, the price tag doubles. And so does the foot work to find it, health food stores and organic markets are often some of the only places that carry grass-fed cows.
Many people argue, why does it matter? Once again, the cruelty to animals comes into play. Do you want to eat abused animals who were alive while being skinned for your meal? Or do you want to purchase and support kind farmers that allow cows a happy, healthy life free of trauma prior to slaughter?
More important to some, are the health risks associated with eating GMO-fed cows. There are the rumors of future infertility, the lack of proper proteins gained from eating malnourished meat, and the fear of getting sick from many of the illnesses only carried by cows NOT farmed organically. It’s safer, smarter, and more kind to eat grass fed beef. The only issues are the looming cost that most simply can’t afford, as well as the availability- many towns don’t have ‘boutique’ grocery stores packed with real organic goods.
As for white meat, “organic” labels indicate that no growth hormones or stimulants were used. In order for chickens to be healthy for us as they once were, they not only need to be free of drugs but also given room to roam while being fed the right foods. In order to purchase chickens of this caliber seek out the “range-free” labels.
A couple Thanksgivings ago, with a big range free turkey dominating the center of our table, my younger sister commented on the thickness of the meat. My mom was excited to jump in and share why- despite the fact we were all mid-chew. “It’s because this turkey was free to walk around! He was healthy and had muscles!”
“Ew!” We all chanted, in hopes she’d stop talking about our food like the animal it once was. But what she said has so much validity. At 21 years old, I only knew caged up chickens, sedentary and full of fat. Now, having switched to eating only ‘range-free,’ I am used to the taste of regular old chickens and I don’t ever plan on going back.
How to Eat Organic and Still Save
My boyfriend and I know what it’s like to feel the pains of purchasing organic; with him still in college and me freshly graduated, things can get pretty tight over here! So I’ve included some ways to save money and still eat organic...
- Grow your own mini-organic garden. Even if all you have is a small apartment, balconies and window ledges get plenty of sunshine!
- Don’t waste your money on pointless organic such as silly fruit snakes that are unhealthy either way.
- Pick and chose what you purchase organically, using “The Dirty Dozen,” and “The Clean Fifteen” as a point of reference.
- Always price check! Oftentimes I discover organic produce that costs less than its non-organic twin down the isle.
- Ask your favorite store to buy more organic and spread the word to friends and family. The more demand for organic, the more prices will come down for us all.