Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Organic Update

So, a few months ago, my readers may remember that I began a purge on our pantry to try to bump up my health a bit. Quick background: I have fibromyalgia, which symptoms include muscle pain, fatigue, sleeplessness, "brain fog," and lots of other varied symptoms. Nutrition, exercise, and sleep are the 3 key things to surviving this condition.

To be as concise as possible, I'm going to create 2 lists, one of things I have decided worthwhile to keep organic, and the other of things I tried and decided to drop, inclusive of the reasons Why.

Continuing Organic:
  • Beef & chicken, though we eat less of it than ever, and I've added another stipulation to that: Grass-Fed. Corn and soy-fed animals ("all-vegetarian diet" is what they say on the package. Deceptive, isn't it?) are not healthy animals. Cows, chickens, and people were meant to feed on a variety of foods. Imagine how healthy you'd be if all you ate were corn, soybeans, and a pill full of vitamins. Healthy cows make nutritious steak. That's my logic there. (btw, grass-fed means "raised in a pasture" which for chickens, means they're eating bugs, and for cows, means they're getting all the "green" they need)
  • Milk, my goal is to buy gallons of raw, whole milk in bulk from a local farm. This will supply me with milk, cream, sour cream, yogurt, kefir, and hopefully (when I get good at it) cheese. I'm still waiting on a call from the farmer's wife letting me know the calf has been born. In the mean time, we're just drinking the pasteurized, homogenized stuff. :P
  • Eggs. Costco has a good deal on these, making it possible to afford them!
  • All toiletries and household cleansers (barring carpet spot-remover. Have yet to discover something that will keep us from replacing the carpets in this bloody white-sheathed rental home of ours when we leave!)
  • Sugar. The reasons for this are the following: sugar is an imported food. Foreign countries do not have the "protection" (sarcastic quotations) of the FDA to regulate the pesticides they use. Also, it's pretty expensive, and it makes me think twice about using it, which is good, since even when it's organic, it's not good for your body to consume it in huge amounts like, say, Sweet Tea. (my biggest weakness right now)
  • Oil. Once again, Costco rules when it comes to this. I wouldn't be able to go organic on oil but for their awesome bulk deals!
  • I have to put Bread in here, too, because I make my own bread, even though it's not perfectly organic sprouted wheat, it contains the organic flour, sugar, and oil. It's pretty good, though, and we're spoilt for store-bought bread, now. :) Thanks to my Mom for teaching us to make it at home when we were 6. That's a gift I can't put a price on!

Alternatives to Organics:

  • Fresh Produce: the reason for this is I believe if I buy local produce I have a very good chance of getting nearly pure food. There are a lot of family-run farms out here that don't necessarily have the FDA "stamp" on their organic farming tactics, but they are earth-friendly, just the same. The average difference this makes is around $8 per week for our family. A few seasonal things I buy from out-of-state, like strawberries and oranges...but I try to make sure they're at least from the U.S.
  • Fish: For a while now, we've been getting salmon from the hatchery here on post owned by the Nisqually Indian tribe. They give out free salmon in the fall to whomever wants to stand in line while they harvest the eggs. We have no guarantee that they're organic fish, but they are darned fresh, there's certainly no mercury, and FREE!
  • Anything I use infrequently enough to not reconcile the extra expense with the benefits. These include: cocoa, baking powder, corn starch, chocolate, vinegars, most condiments, salad dressings, sauces, spices, tea, coffee (though this is more about the awesome "native" coffee out here, and my inability to free myself from this addiction than anything. )
  • Oh, and this final one I'm really not satisfied with: Juice. I canNOT find a good alternative to juice.....organic stuff. The good wholesome "Whole Fruits" juices are SUPER expensive, and just plain not an option. We still drink juice, but I do wish I could find a healthy substitute. Not sure that getting a juicer wouldn't end up being just as expensive, once you buy all that fruit!
In the long run, my solution to having a mixed "impure" diet is to shift our balance from Majoring on Meat & Potatoes to Majoring on Raw Foods, mostly raw vegetables and fruit. One thing that has helped is to take just one meal per day: breakfast, and eat ONLY raw fruits. That eliminates the problem of balancing the "right" amount of meat to starch to veggie. We just decided to up our intake of raw foods, and hope that it made up for the holes in my "Organic Shield." So far, we've been LOVING the results! We start the day with a totally raw fruit breakfast, and make lunch our highest-protein meal. This usually consists of something like chili, a chicken/veggie casserole, potatoes & ham au gratin, accompanied by a vegetable. We end the day with a lighter version of that, such as a salad topped with grilled steak strips, or a chicken breast with mango salsa, no starch. It gives us both a lot more energy in the evening, so we can actually talk to each other and play with Violet rather than sit staring at each other, bloated digestive systems working hard, counting the minutes till bedtime!

Honestly, we didn't ever complain about our digestions before we started this, it just suddenly occurred to us how much better it was this way! I'm having to re-think my "3 things arranged on a plate with bread on the side and a dessert waiting" training.....which must be a Southern Thing, now that I think about it! If we're going to have meat, I try to accompany it with a cooked vegetable AND a salad, and skip the mashed potatoes or rice pilaf or noodles & cheese. My more recent research has shown me that the necessary carbohydrates can be had from a pile of raw mixed veggies just as easily as from a bowl of gooey noodles. Plus, the roughage. :)

Anyway, those are my rambling, ever-changing thoughts on health. I'm also in the process of switching to a cheaper acai berry blend. I'm venturing forth from my safety zone of Mona-V*e, proven to work, and hoping to land a much more affordable product!



Matt and Laurie Beardsley said...

my 2 cents from Juicer Land....

I love love LOVE having a juicer.... BUT, you are totally right! The fruit is insanely expensive. To make a good drink (from which we can count say 2/3 of our fruit intake for the day, or as a meal substitution) we need at least 5 or 6 oranges, and something to mix in like berries, or apples. Vegetables are great, but they tend to make the juice really really strong and you need fruit to balance it out.

I still end up buying our juice (which is nice for us because we have Trader Joe's everywhere and can easily get all 100% juice or organic, even in odd flavors). This week I got 100% organic mango lemonade for $3! (a regular sized, large juice).

So we tend to use the juicer more when there is a lot of seasonal fruit available, or when I really plan on being careful and diligent enough to not buy our juice and use that money for some more expensive fruit items. Also, it is very time consuming to clean it properly, but super-important because obviously it's an expensive, special piece of kitchen equipment.

Matt and Laurie Beardsley said...

Reading my own comment and adding to that.... with a juicer, the hardest part is the juice is best fresh. Which is great as far as eating fresh and organic, but not as great when it comes to making fruit purchases and divvying up the fruit. For Example: if I decide for the week or 2 weeks, not to buy juice and to use the juicer, it means I buy more fruit, ALOT more fruit, but you can't make the juice all at once. So you have to be careful how many apples and oranges you (or your husband ;-) grab to eat because you might not have left, what you planned to make juice with. Then you end up purchasing double what you meant to, and in a bit of a fruit overload. Also you have to be sure that everytime you want to fill that sippy cup you have the time to drag out the juicer and whip up a healthy concoction. It's usually fine to make a pitcher or 1/2 in the morning and use that all day but I don't go to the store very much so I really have to try to figure out fruit for a long time, to not buy any juice.

Boy, that was a lot of talk about juice.

Herb of Grace said...

I sure hope you're able to keep this up-- I'm getting inspired :) The starches and the "three things on a plate" are my biggest issues, too. In the summer it's sooo much easier, something about the warmer weather makes it easier to go with mostly fruits and veggies.

Susannah Forshey said...

Lis, that's so true about the warmer weather making the salads look better. Back in the fall, I managed to use SOUP to spread the Veggie Love, instead of slabs of hot, juicy meat. It's still comforting and hot, but with plenty of vegetables, too. We still do soups, by the way.....love 'em especially with hot fresh bread!

Susannah Forshey said...

So, tell me, Laurie, what type of juicer do you have? Also, when you make a batch, do you end up having a lot of waste? LOVE Trader Joe's for juices, but it's a 30-minute drive for me, so I rarely get up there. :(

Matt and Laurie Beardsley said...

I have a Breville.... here is a picture: http://kitchen.cookery-guide.info/images/content/breville-juicer.jpg which I love. We can put in whole apples without doing anything! You still have to peel citrus because the rind is sour and you wouldn't want that flavor, but other than that, it's really easy.

As far as waste, there is a good bit! We actually have 3 bins here provided by our waste management.... 1 for Trash, 1 for recycling and 1 for yard/food waste, so it is recycled and I don't have to feel terrible. It would be GREAT for composting if you were able to do that!

I don't go to Trader Joe's too much because I can't afford to buy all our groceries there, but I do get coffee and juice and usually buy enough for a month or so.

Hosanna said...

Good for you. I have not gone completely organic yet myself, because just eating healthier was a huge step for me. My mother ingrained in me the concept that you HAVE to eat rice,potatoes,pasta, or bread at every meal. It was not until recently that I quit that. Often, we'll just have an entree, and SEVERAL veggies with that.
I have tried to cut out all high fructose corn syrup food items also. That stuff is in just about everything these days; not just sodas. I am on my first month being soda free......:)
Sweet tea is also my weakness, but I figure, it is pure natural sugar not fake nasty sugar or the HFCS.
I have tried raw fruit for breakfast and do you know it tears my stomach up? If I have say an apple, pear, grapes, banana etc. first thing in the am I am ill an hour later and can't function. I have to eat protein for breakfy; like cheese or peanut butter. (I don't eat eggs.) The only fruit that agrees with me on an empty stomach is grapefruit. I eat my raw fruits in the afternoons with lunch, or before supper.
Have you ever heard of the food combining diets and what that is all about? "Only eat this with that" and so on?
Anyway, super post. I like to hear about different dietary things that people are trying that actually work and are sensible.