Organic Can Be Easy!
I have been addicted to organic food for almost 10 years. I know it is better for me, my kids and better for the planet. Studies have shown organic produce to be higher in anti-oxidants; vitamins and minerals (thank you to The Organic Center for your vigilant scientific research) and organic diary, meat and eggs have fewer hormones, antibiotics and pesticide residues (yes, pesticides are found in meat because cattle are eating feed laden with them). It’s also true that organic farming is more sustainable; it uses fewer resources and encourages community. But above all else it tastes better. Try this experiment. Blindfold your kid and have him taste both a conventional and organic apple. You will see, he will pick the organic apple.
I know, I know, you say, “but organic is so expensive, so cost prohibitive, and especially in this economy. At the end of the day isn’t it all the same?” I am not sure what is more expensive: organic food that will nourish good health or illness and a lifetime of medical bills, pills and doctor’s visits? In essence I see eating organic food as preventative medicine. That being said here are some ways to cut costs and eat organically that will benefit your family’s health and pocket book.
1. Prioritize your shopping list. Decide for yourself what is not that important and what you are not willing to compromise. In my opinion staying away from the ‘Dirty Dozen’ is a good idea. These crops are the most sprayed. This list includes: apples, cherries, grapes, imported (Chile), nectarines, peaches, pears, raspberries, strawberries, bell peppers, celery, potatoes, and spinach.
I would also suggest dairy, meat, eggs and coffee to be on your “must buy organic” list.
Save money on the “it’s okay if it’s not organic” list. Exposure to pesticides will be minimal if any.” This list includes: onions, garlic, bananas, kiwi, mangoes, papaya, pineapples, asparagus, avocado, broccoli, and cauliflower.
2. Shop at your local farmer’s market and in season. Buying direct from farmers is always cheaper when you cut out the middleman. And buying strawberries for example (a late spring and summer fruit) in December will always be more expensive then when purchasing in season. Even conventionally grown. Tip: purchase berries in season and then freeze them for the off-season, for pies, jams and smoothies.
Find your local farmer’s market at Local Harvest.org. They have a list of over 20,000 farmer’s markets nation wide.
3. Join a Coop or buying club. Purchasing food with a group of friends or like-minded individuals from a coop that is community run and sells products in bulk is a great way to save money on organic food. For a complete nationwide list go to Coop Directory.org
4. I know I am stating the obvious here but nothing is cheaper than your homegrown variety. Grow your own garden. Up until about 50-60 years ago that’s what we did. “I live in a city” you say, become a part of a community garden.
And lastly pick up my book Anna Getty’s Easy Green Organic. The book helps you take the simple steps to reconnecting to your food. We all want to save money, eat good food and be healthy. I wrote this book to help moms and people everywhere do exactly those. It has lots of great green tips to have a healthier, leaner and greener kitchen and 100 recipes that are simple, healthy and tasty and encouraging you to use organic ingredients. Try not to feel overwhelmed. If you want to shop organically do so one step at a time. This is one of my favorite recipes from the book to get you started and so easy.
Simple Tomato Sauce and Spaghetti
The first thing I ever learned to cook was the pasta dish my grandmother taught me. It requires only four ingredients (not including the salt, pepper, and Parmesan). For years it was my staple recipe and I never revealed her secret: a stick of butter. Serves 4 to 6
One 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes
4 large fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 pound spaghetti
1 Cup freshly grated Parmesan
Salt and pepper to taste
Put the tomatoes in a medium sauté pan over medium heat. Use a potato masher to mash the tomatoes into coarse pieces. Add the butter and basil and simmer for about 20 to 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper.
Cook the spaghetti in a large pot of boiling water with a small handful of salt tossed in until the spaghetti is al dente, still slightly firm to the bite. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water before draining the spaghetti
In a large bowl, toss the spaghetti with the sauce. Add some pasta water if the sauce is too dry, but don’t make it watery; the sauce should hug the noodles. Mix in generous amounts of Parmesan and serve.