Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Affording organic - Part II - money-saving tips

Please click here to read Part I

In an effort to improve one's diet, one of two goals should be to replace unhealthy foods with all natural, whole foods alternatives. Instead of buying cookies at the store, for example, they can be made at home with whole grains, honey, and real butter for a very wholesome and tasty alternative that is usually also cheaper. Depending on individual tastes and habits, and your family's compliance in this matter, this process can take years. As with most things, it is a lot easier to start out right than to change later on.

Changing over to healthy products includes all areas of life, such as cleaning products, cooking utensils (non-stick, plastic, etc.), clothing (think toxic, but fire-retardant PJs for kids, new cotton  and/or dyed clothes, etc.), body care products, furniture (again, think of mattresses, curtains, etc. that are drenched in fire retardant) etc. but for sake of time this post is only dealing with the food aspect of it.

The other of the two goals should be switching over to all organic foods/ingredients. Cost can often be a seemingly prohibiting factor. Below, I list some of the things I have learned in order to provide our family with all organic foods without being a millionaire, or even remotely "rich". 

1. Check prices

Many times, I have compared the prices of organic vs. conventional produce at the store, only to find there was no difference in price, or that the organic variety was on sale for less than the conventional. Your best bet for this would be to shop at a natural foods store that carries both organic and conventional produce, as opposed to a major grocery chain that only has a limited range of organic produce.

If the difference is only 10-20 cents more per pound, buying organic is really not going to make a major financial impact. It is more a question of getting over the thought of paying more than we feel we absolutely "have to".

2. Know where to shop

Depending on the stores available in your area, one may have the cheapest organic produce, while another carries the least expensive bulk foods, etc. Find out and make a list of what the lowest item price is on regular staples of comparable quality, and where to find them. Then if you see a sale at a store you do not usually buy this item at, you will know if this really is a good deal or not.

I don't know if there are any people out there who buy all their groceries from one expensive organic store, such as Whole Foods. If they exist, I have yet to meet one of them. We use WF only to fill in gaps to buy stuff we cannot find anywhere else, or for a better price. We get most of our stuff through an organic co-op, buy meat and dairy locally from small organic farms, split produce shares from an organic wholesaler with other families, and fill the remaining gaps by shopping from Trader Joe's, Costco, and Whole Foods.

Local farmers' markets often offer great deals on abundant seasonal produce. You may be able to barter with a friend who raises dairy or eggs for something you can grow in your garden, etc.  A friend with land might be willing to raise a pig or calf for you in exchange for a portion of the meat. When you get away from the idea of shopping at a one-stop superstore, the creative possibilities are endless.

3. Co-ops

Find out if/where there are any co-ops or buying clubs in your area. We order the vast majority of our groceries through Azure Standard, which delivers to half of the states. There are many other similar options out there.

Another great option for produce are co-ops like Bountiful Baskets, or community-supported agriculture (CSA) projects like Farm Fresh to You. While these are more expensive than we are paying by buying wholesale, their prices are still much lower than at the grocery store if that is your only other alternative. CSAs are also great because they encourage local farming, and cut down on nutrition lost to packaging and shipping.

4. Grow your own

Sadly, I have yet to turn out a profit trying to garden in the desert, but for people who know what they are doing and/or live in milder climates, this can be a huge factor. Locally grown, organic produce is far superior to organic produce that has been harvested and shipped from out of state.

Another option is keeping your own flock of backyard chickens. The eggs from our own free range, "pasture" fed (i.e. weeds and cacti) chickens are the best!! If you live on land that is large enough and zoned rural, you could even raise livestock for meat and milk.

5. Plan ahead

When making your weekly meal plan and grocery list, first start by "shopping" the fridge, freezer, and pantry. You may find a lonely, seemingly useless leftover like mashed potatoes. These could be used to make gnocchi and pesto, or shepherd's pie, or dinner rolls, just to name a few examples. Leftover taco or fajita meat can become a platter of nachos, etc. I once read that on average, people throw away 15% of the food they buy without eating it. Imagine if you could shave 15% off your grocery budget simply by eliminating virtually any waste!

Next, you could think of meals that take similar ingredients or prep work. One large whole chicken could be cooked into a large pot of chicken soup, with the extra meat being used in another meal or two like enchiladas or chicken salad. Not only are whole chickens cheaper than chicken breast, but the dark meat and bones have more nutrition and will make wonderfully nourishing chicken stock in your soup.

Planning ahead, you can also help even out the total weekly grocery cost by balancing special, expensive meals with a frugal one later in the week. Example: you make BBQ pork ribs one night for someone's birthday meal. Because this meal focuses mostly on meat, and expensive meat at that, you may need to serve bean soup another night, or a modest lunch like cucumber sandwiches. It is unrealistic to teach our children that they can eat steak and ice cream for dinner every night.

There are many books written on the subject of frugal family meals, such as this one by this lady. Your library probably has a number of them. Many of the recommendations in these books can be applied to organic foods. 

6. Shop prepared

Having a meal plan and grocery list is a must if you want to stick to your budget. Next, pick a time to go shopping when you either do not need to bring the kids, or when they will be good if you have/want to bring them along. For us, this time is typically mid-morning, after breakfast, morning chores, and basic school work have been completed.

Everyone should have a snack at home so they do not enter the store hungry. You should bring along water for everyone, as well as a snack for the 2-and-under crowd.

Have the meal you are planning on eating upon returning cooked and ready ahead of time, so you will not be tempted to drive through McDonald's and Starbucks on the way home because everyone is cranky, exhausted, and hungry. You will gain nothing by shopping for the cheapest groceries, only to then spend a small fortune for snacks, bribes, water, and meals on the run. We almost always have dinner leftovers for lunch, and carefully plan our shopping trip to end in time for lunch and naps.

7. Save in other areas

Where do I even get started on this?? Some of the most vehement attackers of buying organic foods spend ridiculous amounts of money on the most worthless items. This again comes down to priorities.

For us, we enjoy vacations, special trips, buying gifts, and other luxuries as much as anyone else - but not if we have to chose between that and feeding our kids poison. This year, for example, we again chose to only spend minimally on Christmas presents for the children, and not give each other a bought gift at all (my husband cheated, but that's a different story). Each child was given 2 gifts by us, which all totaled $25 or less, except for baby Anna who we bought nothing for because we figured she is too young to know if she got something from us or not. Her favorite part was just playing with the wrapping paper. The gifts were all carefully chosen and very nice, and by buying them throughout the year I saved a lot of money over full-price. The kids also got more gifts from other relatives, and each other. None of them thought that we had a meager Christmas, and since they have no concept of asking for specific gifts, there were no disappointments.

Spending quality time with our families and building strong bonds have nothing to do with money. Reading books together from the library, or going for a walk, or wrestling with Dad are all free, and build lifelong memories, unlike watching TV or other worthless activities. Our kids have been enjoying the growing leaf pile in our front yard, and every day I can hear their belly laughs as I watch them from the house. It's free, we don't have to buy a bigger house just to make room for all their junk, and it keeps the mess outside.

Safe foods are a priority. If there is money left at the end of the month for luxuries, that's nice, but we can do without and be none the worse off for it.

8. Eat differently

Some foods should just never be bought in the first place, organic or not, because they either offer zero nutrition or cause more harm than good. Some examples are soda, coffee, pasteurized juice, flavored drink packs, cold cereal, convenience snacks like chips, crackers, or cookies, etc. Just eliminating these, or reserving them for rare special occasions, will shave money off the grocery total.

Another idea would be to switch to whole grain varieties of pasta, breads, rice, etc. and to always cook potatoes with their skins. Not only does this improve the nutritional value of the foods, but they are also more filling, so you won't have kids haunting you for snacks between meals.

Oatmeal, farina, or homemade granola are all great, inexpensive alternatives to ready-bought cold cereal. These are just some examples.

9. Eat less

What a thought, in the 21st century in America! But we all know people who eat themselves into obesity, only to then have to deal with the negative consequences like poor health. If you eat twice as many calories as you need to, you might be spending twice as much on food as you need to.

But even beyond that, you can stretch your grocery budget by using less meat in many recipes. Some examples are: use grated vegetables in spaghetti sauce, sloppy joes, etc. Add an equal part of beans and meat to taco soup, chili, and similar meals and double the recipe without doubling the meat. Most guys who are "meat and potatoes" will not notice such a change if the end result is tasty, or else they might just decide that eating less meat is preferable to having to make more money.

10. Do not eat out

Going out to eat used to be a temptation for me. It meant not having to do the shopping, prep work, cooking, and clean up involved in every single meal. It was also fun, and usually very tasty.

However, as we made the switch to eating only organic at home, something strange happened: food at restaurants would make us very sick. Even if it was a nice place that used "all natural" ingredients, not just any old fast food (YUCK!!!).

This single factor has made it very easy for us to give up eating out. No matter how hungry I am on the road, it is never enough to lure me into buying ready food. If I really am in a bind and MUST eat, I will stop to buy organic bread, lettuce, tomatoes, and cheese for sandwiches in the car. If we are going on a daytrip, we pack an ice-chest. If we are gone overnight, we research and plan ahead of time where we will eat while away from home, and bring as much as we can from home. The only (rare) exceptions to this are Chipotle, the Whole Foods bistro, and a couple of local organic restaurants - but I still much prefer the food at home and only go out to eat there when we have company and they want to go out.

For us, it seems that for every single meal we eat out, we could have cooked two of the same meal at home, using organic ingredients. I had this epiphany about three years ago, when I let the kids talk me into driving through Chick-fil-A with them. $40 later I realized I could have made the same food at home, for half the cost, and saved myself feeling sick to my stomach for the rest of the day. Also, remember this post and its follow-up? We still like chicken sandwiches like those from Chick-fil-A, but I now make my own from scratch, complete with homemade fries, milk shakes, and fresh lemonade. It turns the kitchen into a disaster zone, but that's what the kids are for! Plus, they would turn the van into a pig sty if we ate on the road, so it's really not that much more work to clean up after.

If people were to add up ALL the money they spend on food in addition to their groceries, including drinks at the gas station, driving through for coffee, change for vending machines, buying kids a bottle of water because they forgot to bring their own, eating out every week, etc. they might be in for a shock. According to a number of different sources I looked at online, the average American family spends 40% of their food dollars at restaurants!!! By cutting out or at least greatly reducing such almost entirely unnecessary expenses, they could instead spend more on organic ingredients cooked at home. And life would still go on!! :)

11. Buy in bulk

This is a big factor for us, because our family is larger-than-average, so we go through lots of food as it is. But even for smaller families, buying items that keep well in bulk will help shave money of the grocery total. Here is one example, using the Azure Standard co-op: If I were to buy 5 lbs of sugar, it would come out to $1.80/lb. If I bought 25 lbs, the price would go down to $1.50/lb. This is a savings of 17%. Maybe not huge by itself, but this is just one example, and when applied to everything you buy, you just reduced your food spending by 15-25%. Combined with eliminating waste (15% on average) and not eating out (which would probably save another 20% after factoring in having to buy more food at the store), you could reduce your food costs by almost 50% with not too much effort, and then use the extra money to instead switch to organic foods.

Buying in bulk also offers the added benefit of making sure you have a certain food supply at home. In a world where most of us only live minutes from the nearest store, it is easy to forget that food shortages can and do occur, especially if you live in an area with natural disasters. Throughout history, when harvesting fresh food was only possible for a short time each year, food was stored  to live off of for the rest of the time. It was not taken for granted that it could be purchased anytime, day or night.

If you have enough of anything on hand to last you until the item will go on sale again, you will also never need to pay full-price for anything. With Azure, everything goes on sale at least one time per year. Each month, I look through the specials and see if any of our regular staples are on sale. I will then buy enough to last us for up to one year, when it will likely go on sale again. Obviously, this is not feasible for perishables that need refrigeration or freezing.

Even in our extreme climate, I have found a way to store foods in a way where they will not go bad or get taken over by critters. In the past, before using this method, I used to have to refrigerate everything, even dry goods like pasta or beans, if they were going to be in the cupboard for more than one month because stuff would get weevils in it by then. Now, I store everything inside mylar bags in 4-gallon food safe buckets, neatly arranged on commercial food shelving. I do not seal the mylar bags, just fold them over, and in two years of doing it this way have never once had a problem. We get our buckets from a local source that sells them for $1 apiece.

12. Cook from scratch

Not only does it taste better, it is also cheaper. The sky really is the limit on this one, so depending on how much you want to save is how much you should make from scratch. Besides the obvious of cooking dinner from whole foods ingredients rather than out of a can or box, you can bake bread, make tortillas, do your own desserts, make cheese and yogurt, make your own pasta, etc. Instead of spending money at the store, you will be spending extra time in the kitchen, so it really depends on how much extra you will be able to take on without the financial gain not being worthwhile your loss of time. If you work a job outside the home, this could be difficult. If you stay home but prefer to sit and watch TV with a bowl of ice-cream, you may find this to be too bothersome. Only you know your own circumstances.

The process of learning to make your own staples takes time, unless you grew up in a home where your mom already cooked this way and you learned from her. For most of us, this is not the case, and we have to learn through trial and error how to be efficient and produce a tasty end product. Perseverance is the key. I used to HATE homemade pizza. The crust never came out the way I wanted it to - thin and crisp, but not too crunchy. Even frozen tasted better! I kept at it simply because it was the only option, and now, a decade later, I can finally say I make a pizza crust that is second to none (at least to me). Other things I am still trying to learn, such as how to make dairy products using raw milk, or make my own puff pastry that is actually puffy, etc. So much to learn, so little time! Thankfully, our daughters will start out way ahead on the learning curve, and will not need to repeat my mistakes when they have their own families one day.

13. Get your family on board

With the kids, starting young is key, when their taste buds are being programmed. If you never buy Kool-Aid, or let them eat brightly colored (= toxic) cupcakes, or buy them candy at the check out aisle, there is no reason for them to continually bug you to do so. It either won't occur to them, or they will be smart enough to know it's a lost cause.

If you have older kids, try changing things gradually, such as adding whole grains to some dishes. Or just explain to them why some options are better than others, make them eat what you serve without complaining, and know that their taste buds will adjust with time. When we first switched to all whole-grains, it was an acquired taste, but now eating "white" stuff tastes so bland to us. 

Your husband might be harder nut to crack, but again, educating him on the issues is a great first step to helping him realize why some foods are good, and others are not. As long as the food tastes good, and there's plenty of it, few men will sit there and over-analyze what is on their plate.

14. Ignore the naysayers

Turn a deaf ear to the countless naysayers. Remember, misery loves company. We all know people who snicker about us behind our back, malign us to others, and ridicule our choices. If they didn't do it about the food we buy, they would do it about something else (in fact, they probably are!), because some people are just busybodies like that instead of minding their own matters. You can't win with them, so why even try? Instead, invest your energy into caring for your family, who will actually appreciate your efforts.

If you have more tips to add, please feel free to do so in the comments below.


  1. I just wish I could apply more of this to myself. We're in a jam at the moment as our source of fruit and veg had to close down due to busybodies and small town drama. I won't buy 'organic' food at the supermarket as it is only organic by the limited government standards, and the health food stores which carry organic food are profiteering. I know we have a false sence of how cheap food should be, I know the farmers are ripped off by supermarkets, and I'm happy to pay a bit extra to see that they recieve a bit extra, but you can't tell me $10kg is the true price of brocolli when the local greengrocer has it for $3.99kg and the supermarket for $2.99kg. I'd pay $5, maybe $6 if the quality looked up to scratch, but not $10, and it's the same way with all health food store produce. I did the farm boxes once but we found ourselves throwing out far too much because they sent us food we didn't eat. Maybe now it would be different, I'm thinking they might be our only option.

    The bill for eating healthy is hard for us because we don't lower the meat. We have some different ideas of nutrition, but we believe meat is very important in the diet, and we keep a low carb diet too. We still eat bread and pasta etc, but 1-3 serves a day, not the 5 or 6 perscribed by the food pyramid.

    Just to make things worse, we juice stuff ourselves. I had no idea how expensive that venture would become.

    And here in Australia, we don't really have access to bulk... anything. I can get bulk grains and flour but that's about it, no bulk veggies unless I go to a farmers market, which, in our area, and ALL on sunday mornings, so that's out. I have had little sucess growing anything, so I love it when someone with more sucess gives us a box of something, but that rarely happens.

    It's just not simple anymore is it? The notion of eating organically and seasonally was taken for granted by our grandparents, and now we have to fight just to have our food the way God and nature intended.

  2. Do you buy meat at Costco? You do realize that they sell meat that is certified Halal?

  3. great post but i do have to disagree with one area- the eating less portion.

    This might be true for people who are bigger or young kids, but for growing active teens and active adults I have to disagree. Mainly because those who are active and workout several times a week (very intensely) need a lot more calories in their diet. I think people are mislead that by eating less they will lose weight which is typically not the case.

    But those who want to be in shape and want bodies to look as good as they feel by eating healthy- they should consume more calories ( and of course good calories, not a bunch of big macs lol )

  4. You know we disagree on a lot of things, but this is one thing I will *never* disagree on you with. While I don't cook 100% organic in my home, I think it's a fanstastic idea and want to gravitate more towards that. And I don't know if I could give up eating out entirely, but I did go from spending between $300-$350 per month on eating out at lunch each day (for work) to eating out only once a week and cutting that cost to about $50/month. It's ridiculous how much eating out costs and I primarily buy salads. We won't talk about the blue cheese dressing I put on it..lol!

    Any thought of publishing that fancy cooking schedule thing you did for yourself with recipes? I bet lots of people (myself being one) would buy it. *hint* *hint*

  5. Not to be published:
    You did it again: "if we have to choose" is the correct spelling. Sorry, I am a hopeless Besserwisser.
    Viele Grüße aus Berlin

  6. I want to grow my own organic produce but need to know what can be used to deter bugs/birds/ squirrels from ruining the food before its even ripe enough to pick and enjoy. We live in tx so critters are bad here in the spring/summer and will eat anything off a tree or out of the garden as soonn a it starts to grow. How do you deter this organically?

  7. Great Post! I get some negative comments about drinking raw milk. (don't you know it is dangerous!!) People don't realize the milk they get at the store is dangerous. Other countries have band our milk because it is so bad. It is so funny that people think the milk they drink gives them strong bones and helps them lol! The milk you buy in the store is horrible and I never drink it, I'm to scared to. I can't believe babies from 1 year up are given milk constantly in there plastic full of toxins sippy cups and bottles. Have you read slow duck by rubber duck? It talks about the toxins in the products we use.

  8. Again, another A.W.E.S.O.M.E post! I am so excited to read all of that. What great ideas and this post just made the cost thing come together for me, that I really am/can be, saving! And the plus, is that my husband is sooo on board, and sometimes even more into making changes than I am! So the nice thing is that we are able to encourage each other!
    Our switching over process has been a little slower than I would like, but I am encouraged that we can do it overnight now, it's so worth it! Oh, and the nay-sayers, I know all about that, so thanks for that encouragement too :)
    Is there a part3

  9. One of my favourite fall time hobbies include going out to forest to pick wild berries and mushrooms. (This is probably not possible at the desert though) For example wild blueberries have tons of more nutrients than the grown ones and they are complete free! Plus you get good exercise and fresh air. I remember growing up my aunt had a really good trick to lure us into to the forest: we would always bake blueberry muffins from the berries we picked afterwards. It felt really special eating them! An other thing I have in my mind nowadays while shopping is how ethically produced the food is. Some companies like The Coca cola co rip of third world countries in a shameful way and I don't want to be part of it because God hates exploitation. We try to buy Fair trade products so that the banana and tea farmers for example get their fare share of the profit. Talking about the food I hope you are feeling better! Blessing mrs. Hanna K.

  10. I happen to live in the countryside with my parents, and my dad has a garden where he grows fruits and vegetables. Not only is this way cheaper, it is also much better! Not a single piece of grape from the shop could taste the same as those from our greenhouse.

  11. abba12,

    sadly, my recommendations are only for the US. I hope you will be able to find other options where you live.


    sometimes, in a pinch, I buy organic chicken at Costco, which is certified halal. Not sure why that is a concern?


    I was not trying to suggest people eat less than they need to. Our boys all eat huge portions, as does my husband. The latter goes to a very hard-core Muay Thai gym every week, and also regularly runs long distance (10 miles or more). He eats A LOT. I was referring to obese people who spend too much on food because they simply eat too much, especially at the wrong places.


    I keep plugging away at it, but there is just never enough time in a day! :)


    seriously???? I "did it again" - when was the last time "I did"? Given how much I blog, is the best you can attack me for a typo every few weeks? You are a prime example of why I don't like Germans.


    here in AZ, the "Garden Guy" (www.gardenguy.com) is very popular for all organic gardening. His website has TONS of info, maybe you can find a solution to your problem there. Good luck!


    the raw milk issue makes me roll my eyes in a major way. I guess the "got milk?" campaign effectively brainwashed everyone into thinking the white stuff at the store offers any nutritional benefits. GAG! I'm glad we can buy raw milk and cheese with relative easy here. I HATE all the plastic everywhere, and wish I could live without it entirely.


    glad you enjoyed the post. No part 3 planned.


    ha, your comment brought back memories of when we lived in the Bavarian Forest, and my mother would send my brothers and me out to the forest behind our house to pick these tiny (I mean TINY) berries if she caught us fighting. The worse we were, the bigger of a bowl she would give us, and we were not to come home until it was full. I wish that were an option here. I know some berries grow very well here in the Valley, and I think it might even be the time of year to put them out. You just gave me the idea to call a local nursery and see about putting some in our yard. Thank you!

  12. Would you have a chance to answer my question about the organic milk (from part I of your post)? I know you think raw milk is great, but where it's not available (such as where I live), isn't organic milk good?

  13. I love this post. I was recently diagnosed with PCOS and am slowly learning about the importance of organic food. We love to eat out so thanks for those suggestions.

  14. Wow Zzsuzsanna you obviously put a lot of though and time into the last two blog posts!
    If I may add one more tip; eliminate alcohol, or just have a little bit on very special occasions. (I know you and most Baptists don't drink at all, but many people-- even light or social drinkers do spend a tiny forrtune on alcohol.)

    I'm a little curious if you apply any of the OT dietary laws to yourself and your family. Also, how do you apply Matthew 6:25 with you concern for eating organic? (I'm not trying to be a naysayer or argumentative, I'm just noisy.)

    Once again, grate post - it gave me a lot to ponder.

  15. wow, I would think you would know what the Bible had to say about knowingly eating foods that were offered to idols or false gods ie halal certified. Just seems like something your family would fight against knowing that costco sells meats that are specially butchered for Muslims and offered to Allah.

  16. Am I the only one who finds it sad that Anna missed out? I am by no means a naysayer when it comes to saving money in order to purchase better quality food for your family, but to me skipping one child's Christmas presents takes things from economical to stingy. For the sake of a few dollars, because she's "too little to notice" is just mean, as well as disrespectful to Anna's right as a person and member of your family.

    Surely the joy on a baby's face when they open a "carefully chosen and very nice" gift, and the moments you have exploring it together is worth a few dollars? The moments you had with your older children as they did just that, thanking you, connecting with you over the gift - Anna missed out on because she is "too little." How very sad. My 10mo wouldn't have noticed if he'd missed out on a gift this year, but to me the joy we had opening his gift together, and the subsequent playtime we've had is worth far more than the few (and after the year we've had, it was very few) dollars I spent to get it.

    You just gave the anti-quiverfull campaign proof - parents of large families cannot and do not provide equally for their children, favoring some over others in order to save money.

  17. Zsuzsanna...if I may:
    Petra, eliminating alcohol and ciggaretts and drugs and all kinds of other junk would save people SO MUCH MONEY that they could completely switch to organic overnight. But it's again, about priority...Not lashing out, just bothers me when people can spend so much money on alcohol and tabaco but not have enough money for food...good food.

    And Felicity, That was so rude. "poor" Anna didn't miss out. That's so rediculus that she would have to "get" something just for the fact of "getting" something. Not getting Anna a Christmas gift was "disrespectful to Anna's right as a person..." You have to be kidding me!! In our house we do not favor any child over another, my kids know that when one has a NEED it's fulfilled. My kids know that when they need a certain thing and another child in our home doesn't then that child will get what they need and none of my kids complain, "That's not fair" because I continually told them that getting stuff isnt about "fairness", if someone needs it, they get it. When comes time for Birthdays they all get something or multiple special things. But I dont set a limit of $50 every bday, or $75 each child. Jada might get $100 spent on her, and Evan might get $25. It doesn't mean that I am disrespecting Evan as a human being...What could Anna possibly have gotten that a one year old doesn't already have in the home to make her happy. A mommy and daddy that love her, older siblings, and probably WAY too many toys to count! C'mon, she's ONE!

  18. Great post!!!! I do just about everything you do, just not to the degree you do it because I am lacking "getting the whole family on board*. My big old linebacker husband doesn't think anything is a meal unless there is an entire dead animal involved.

  19. I meant it was disrespectful to Anna to write her off as "too little to care." Just because a person is younger and less aware does not mean they should be excluded or ignored. If the same reasoning applied to say, a special needs child, 'well they won't notice anyway' there would be discrimination cries coming from far and wide. Why should it be different for a child who simply is younger than the rest?

    Of course not all children need the same thing, and one child may not receive something because their needs are not there. No, Anna did not need a gift, but then neither did any of the rest of Z's clan, nor does any child. But it's fun and special to give and receive gifts, and Anna was left out at a time when her siblings were opening gifts from their parents. That is definitely unfair in my standards. What if it had been Solomon who'd missed out? He's old enough to understand the needs of feeding a family come before gifts. Would it still have been a reasonable thing to do?

    And yes, that means my children did not need gifts. However I decided that shopping for and choosing a present that was special and I knew they'd enjoy, and seeing their smiles when they opened it, as well as playing with them afterward was worth the money. No they didn't need anything, and my baby wouldn't have noticed either, but the pleasure we all had, opening gifts as a family, as well as the individual joy each child had is worth far more than dollars.

    Nicole, if you had a limited Christmas gift budget, hypothetically, which child would you choose to miss Christmas gifts and why? Can you be sure they wouldn't think it's unfair?

    I never said Anna's needs are not met, but her right to be treated fairly and equally to her siblings was not.

  20. Felicity,

    before you lay awake all night tossing and turning, or get the UN involved for my egregious violation of human rights, please allow me to elaborate.

    Anna DID have gifts under the tree (five to be exact). I DID plan on getting her gifts from us. In fact, I drove 25 miles one way to the last specialty toy store left in our area to do so. After buying gifts for the remaining people on my list, I spent over a half hour in the young children's section trying to find a gift for her. We already own everything they offered - shape sorters, balls, Playmobil 1 2 3, animals to push/pull/wind/make noises, blocks, strollers, dolls, and whatever else you can imagine. I simply could not find anything new or unique we did not already own. Mind you, this toy store (Kid Stop Toys in Scottsdale) is the finest you will find in Arizona. While I kept looking, my morning sickness took over in full force, and it was all I could do to pay for my other purchases and leave without throwing up in the store.

    I realized that Anna was too young to understand whether she got 5 gifts or 7, or whether any of them said "From Mom and Dad". I realized that if I was only buying a gift out of feeling obligated, it really was not a gift at all. I realized I could save the time of trying to find something new, AND $25, and she would never even know.

    Maybe you think entitlement thinking should be taught from the cradle. We don't. How this gives ammunition to the birth control crowd I do not understand - why would it have been better not to give Anna (or any child) the gift of life at all, than to have given her life but 2 less gifts for Christmas?

    I hope you have some peace and closure now. Life can be so cruel sometimes!!!

  21. Renee,

    because milk is pasteurized, it is allowed to contain very high levels of pathogens to begin with. These are not eliminated from the milk, they are simply killed. However, the high heat makes it to where the cell nuclei of these pathogens are broken open, and their DNA floats freely through the milk. While our immune systems can recognize all sorts of germs, many people experience allergic reactions to milk that is tainted with dead germ particles. The most common reaction is mucous buildup - my husband used to not be able to drink milk before preaching because it would ruin his vocal cords. Many people who are lactose intolerant can handle raw milk just fine. Besides, raw milk contains many healthy bacteria, such as probiotics. These are likewise killed by pasteurization. It's like fresh juice vs. heated/pasteurized/bottled: it's just not the same thing.

    In addition, homogenization changes the fat molecules to shorter-chain. These shorter chain fats clog arteries and cause all sorts of damage, unlike the fat naturally found in milk. So yes, low fat is healthier in homogenized milk because the fat in it is so harmful (fat free is even worse though because of stabilizers that are added).

    For more information, I encourage you to check out the info on the Weston Price website.

    I agree with the other commenter that since rBST and GMO feed are illegal in Canada, there probably is little to no difference between conventional and organic.

    Raw milk is illegal in all states but a handful in the US, but you can buy it in ever state if you know how to get around it (cow shares, etc.). Maybe you can find a farmer in your area that sells raw through a loop hole like that. If not, you'd be better off not to drink milk at all than to drink pasteurized/homogenized.


    I was thinking about including that point, but I figured most of my readers probably don't drink. Whenever people gasp at how much we pay for milk, I tell them it's cheaper ounce for ounce than beer, wine, Starbucks, or the like.

    We do not apply any of the OT dietary laws, per the NT permission to do so. Furthermore, I don't think it is a sin to eat conventional, I just think it is unwise. "All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient" (I Cor. 6:12). If I know of the danger, I will make a conscious effort to avoid it.


    Allah is not an idol, he is a false god. Just because something is certified "halal" does not mean it has been sacrificed to a false god, any more than things that are certified kosher. Jews do not believe in the God of the Bible, either - do you stay away from things that are certified kosher? The chicken is both, so how many times was it offered in sacrifice before it was packaged and sold???

    Halal means that the food does not violate Muslim dietary laws (such as, does not contain pork, etc.). And, did you know that "Allah" is simply the Arabic word for "God"? Why would I care who someone prays to as they butcher an animal? The rancher we get our beef from prays over each animal before slaughtering it, thanking God for providing meat for us - should I first make sure he truly is a Christian before buying the meat? Butchering is not sacrificing, and "Allah" is not an idol that people bring an offering to.

    "Whatsoever is sold in the shambles, that eat, asking no question for conscience sake: For the earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof."
    (1Co 10:25-26)


    nicely put, thank you.


    I hear you! Thankfully, my husband is not picky at all. He grew up on a pretty terrible diet of almost exclusively overprocessed foods, so marrying me was like winning the culinary jackpot. Nothing like feeding a grateful eater!!!

  22. Thank you for the tips in this article. Currently, I am sticking to the "dirty dozen" when buying organic, and looking to expand this list, but due to my location, I have limited options. I plan to try some of the ideas you have here.

  23. Thou shalt have no other gods before Me. Allah is not just another name for God, he is worshiped as a Muslim god as well as Muhammad and yes the Jews do to worship the same God we do what they don't do is believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the Messiah but as you are anti-Semitic I expected this kind of hypocrisy from you. BTW if you did some research into how the certified halal meats were butchered you might not want to eat them anyway.

  24. Do you tell your MIL to her face what a s#$@@% mom you think she was or do you just stab her in the back on your blog? BTW sister you could stand to lose a few!

  25. Great article, Zsuzsanna! Thanks!

    I would think that one of the major challenges faced by families is one spouse who is not on board - either because he's into junk food, or because he doesn't want to deal with the expense. That, as you say, can be a hard nut to crack.

    One problem that we face is that our diet that we would like to shoot for is the paleo/primal diet - which tends to be higher protein and very low in grains/beans, which are the saving grace of any food budget, organic or conventional.

    One other tip I would add to your list is to make slow, gradual changes rather than radical ones. This is simply because I've noticed in my own life that radical changes are almost never permanent, while small gradual changes are sustainable. Just taking simple steps in the right direction - easier on one's sanity and on stubborn family members.

    Going to share, thank you!!

  26. Hi Zsuzsanna.

    I would be interested to know what you do with the most fundamental nutrient of all...water.

    Where I live in CA, the water tastes horrible, and it contains added fluoride. After some research, I decided to use a reverse osmosis system at home, and have switched to glass-only containers and stainless for water bottles (glass being best but too unpractical for kids to carry around). Now whenever I have to drink bottled water I can taste "plastic", which by the way means something got in the water from the bottle.

  27. Zsuzsanna - Thank you so much for the detailed response - especially since I know you're not feeling well. I will definitely look into it around here!

    I also just wanted to comment on the whole "Anna missing out thing." I honestly CANNOT STAND how entitled so many children are these days and how their parents feel that they cannot be happy with things and more things...I took my older 2 kids to the dentist yesterday. A dad was there with 2 children around the same age who were playing with their Nintendo DS's. Notice I say the plural as each child had his/her own DS - oh no, sharing was not for them! My kids were, of course, interested and watched the other kids playing. Then, my oldest son asked me if I could buy him a DS. Not wanting to embarrass the other father about how I think a 7 year old doesn't need so many electronic gadgets, I simply demurred. But the dad jumped in and asked me how I managed to "get out of" buying one for Christmas, tell me that he and his wife "had no choice." Honestly, I was just flabbergasted.

    I know that Felicity's comment was specifically about Anna vs. the other kids, but it seems to me that it all stems from this idea that our children are entitled to more and more and more. And they simply are not. My husband and I thankfully have the financial means to buy each of our children a DS, even the 2 year old, but we just don't. Giving gifts on Christmas, or really any time, is a privilege, something people do because they love you and want to bring some happiness to your life. But it is NOT necessary for having a happy and fulfilled childhood. Now, you probably know that I don't agree with you 100% on no birth control, etc etc, but I don't see how a one year old getting fewer gifts should factor into the decision at all! And perhaps if Felicity had such a difficult financial year, she should have considered small, handmade gifts - I'm sure her children would have loved it...

    (okay, sorry that rant was so long...It's a pet peeve, but I'm done now :-)

  28. Do you miss your Mom?

  29. Momma Marketer,

    I remember reading somewhere that just by buying the dirty dozen in organic, you can reduce your pesticide intake by 90%. Great job!


    Jesus and the God of the OT are one and the same. It is impossible to believe in one and not the other. The Muslims also claim to believe in the OT God, and (unlike the Jews) they even accept Jesus as a prophet. Neither group is saved. Saying so does not make me racist or antisemitic.


    my public blog is hardly anyone's back. I think my MIL was and is an awesome mother - in fact, I give her all the credit for having raised such a wonderful man for me to marry and have a family with. I don't think it makes anyone a bad parent to assume that food at the store is safe for human consumption, and to eat the same as 99% of the population. But it doesn't change the fact that when you are used to eating out of a box or can, anything homecooked is going to taste so much better (which was the point I was making). Even just a decade ago, information that we can access anytime online was not nearly as easily accessible. You have one huge chip on your shoulder - maybe my post convicted you about you now ***knowingly*** feeding your child(ren) junk.


    great point on taking it gradually.

    I hear you on the grain part. I actually wish I could get more of ANYTHING to stick to my family's ribs, because except for me and Solomon, the rest of the family are all skinny as rails or even underweight.


    good question about the water. We get water delivery from Sparkletts, who gets their water from deep protected underground springs in remote areas. It tastes really good, but unfortunately, it comes in plastic jugs. Still, we prefer it to using Tempe city water and filtering it, because the water here is SO BAD. It tastes horrible, and reeks of chlorine. Not a perfect solution, and one we might need to look into more.


    sadly, for some reason my mother and I never enjoyed a close relationship. Since becoming a Christian, our relationship has been further strained because our world views are different in so many areas. I miss all of my relatives, my home country, and the familiarity that comes with it, but it doesn't keep me up at night because the tie was never very strong.

  30. You have one huge chip on your shoulder - maybe my post convicted you about you now ***knowingly*** feeding your child(ren) junk.

    LOL I feel no guilt over how I feed my family, my kids are very healthy and they actually look it!

  31. I thought of you the other day. My daughter and I went into a store to buy a toy. We gave in and bought the FP plastic made-in- China Noah's ark($20-$30 and it doesn't use batteries). If it wasn't for that we would have walked out without anything. I remember years ago our third son, Jonathan, went into a toy store and walked out without anything. We were there with a family friend and she couldn't believe it. We don't buy Disney products,toys that have to do with tv, fashion dolls,etc. I prefer toys that don't use batteries. These are great posts on organic food,etc.-Thank you. I have a few of Jordan Rubin's books- he co-authors with medical doctors.

  32. Could you do a post soon on other organic/natural products, like body care, cleaning products, menstrual products, clothing, mattresses, etc?

  33. Oh yes, I would also be interested in natural/organic/holistic menstrual products (especially pain treatments)


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