Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Organic or Local? What's more Important?

Each day, I check out my google reader to read a few of my favorite blogs. Today, a blog that really caught my attention was this: http://simplemom.net/buying-organic-food/. Basically she asked what's more important, local or organic?

I commented on her page (along with a LOT of other people), but I thought that I would share my thoughts here. These are my priorities when buying and preparing food:
1) Whole foods (not processed), homemade
2) Pasture fed, no hormones or antibiotics, cage free, etc.
3) Local
4) Organic

Even though Organic is at the bottom, it doesn't mean it's not important to me. All of those things are important to me. Let me explain.

1) I have been doing a lot of researching and learning about food and why high nutrition is important. I have learned that this is a life-long process, and one that will improve over time. It is something that I will continue to implement slowly, and it's a life-style change, not a "diet trend." I'm not focusing on losing weight, I'm focusing on health.
But, ultimately, for me, the most important thing is to feed my family whole, nutrient-dense food. This includes things like meat and poultry, eggs, beans, lentils, nuts, whole grains (wheat, spelt, oats, etc), fresh fruits and veggies, milk, cheese, yogurt, etc.
2) My next priority (recently) is to make sure that the meat, poultry, eggs, milk, cheese, butter, etc are at least hormone and antibiotic free, cage free, and grass fed (when possible). The reason for this is that hormones and antibiotics have had a horrible affect on people, and the research that I have read is enough for me to do this. Grass fed is healthier because they contain higher nutrients, much of the time lower fat, and in things like butter, lower saturated fat. The most important part of that for me is the higher nutrients. In this case, buying organic isn't enough because the only difference is that they feed them organic feed. They are still stuck in a pin, which means they aren't healthy. Buying in places like HEB (meat) isn't attractive to me anymore after I spoke with a rancher who sells grass fed beef (that I will be buying from). He said that when he has a sick longhorn, he sends it to HEB. Interesting, huh? He's not "certified organic" because it just costs more than it's worth. He lets the people who buy from him see his longhorns, and see that they truly are pasture fed. He doesn't give hormones, antibiotics, etc, and they truly are just free to roam the pasture. I still haven't found free-range chickens in the area, so I will just keep buying from Whole Foods for now because it's at least natural (although, I will be meeting with someone soon who will probably be able to tell me where to find this!!).
3) Sense I've started buying from Whole Foods, I've actually had much more opportunity to buy local, believe it or not. Buying local is important because it saves money and energy, it is a way to support local farmers, and it's easier to know how they treat their animals, etc. I want to shop at the local farmer's market, but their hours are really hard for our family (luckily, we've started our first garden!). Much of the time, local farms are "organic," without the organic label. Being USDA organic is expensive, and it's just not worth it. By being labeled "organic," they have to charge more. Much of the time the organic label is a way to charge more for products (although, not always).
4) Most things I buy are organic. I especially follow the "dirty dozen" list of buying organic, and things that we use a lot of we buy organic. Pesticides can cause a lot of health issues, so it's important to us. But, the more I learn about true nutrition and that there are other things that are important, the less I focus on organic. I mean, organic pop-tarts are still pop-tarts. They are still pure sugar and refined flours. Still not healthy. So, organic isn't my focus. I buy organic when I can get it for close to the same amount. I just started buying organic flours because I can get them cheap at Whole Foods. I can get organic whole wheat flour for 59 cents a pound! That's an amazing price. There are many things there that are about the same price as non-organic, so it's worth it.

Though I buy "expensive" food, we have made other changes to make this possible (we are not rich all of a sudden...). We no longer buy ANY junk food. We used to buy Doritoes, Oreos, Nutty Bars, etc... Now, we just eat those things occasionally, but never in our home. We no longer buy pre-packaged food (except for Annie's mac n cheese and crackers occasionally; I also buy soem tortilla chips, but they are local and made with non-hydrogenated oils). I do keep things like Kool-aid around for people who come over (we have friends who LOVE it... my kids don't drink it and I don't drink it!). I have an organized plan, and we don't buy things that we don't need. I used to just go to the store and hope that I came home with something that resembled meals. Now, I know exactly what I'm going to get when I go in to the store, and I stick to the list. So, with careful planning, it is VERY possible to eat this way. But, it takes time and making one change at a time. A few years ago I went through and got rid of everything that I considered to not be healthy, and if it wasn't organic. I went shopping and bought all this organic stuff... I didn't stick with that. It was too drastic of a change. Slow is important!

So, there's my LONG opinion. What are your thoughts? Please share!!! I have been told that people read my blog, but when I ask questions, people don't respond :). I really want to know!! :)


The Man Crew said...

Courtney...can I just say once again that I am in awe of your knowledge and your organizational skills, not to mention your diligence in wanting to provide for your family's health, short term and long term...financially and healthwise?? WOW, woman! I pretty much agree with your order of priorites, I'm just not as far down the road as you are...LOL! I'm following you...so keep writing! I do faithfully read your blog but sometimes don't have the time to comment as I'm trying to limit my computer cusage time also. PLEASE keep writing, I find it so inspiring...I just keep thinking, I can do it, too! Kepp up the great work, sister ; )

Lisa Clark said...

My opinions are:
1) You are right on target. You are doing this out of God's leading in your life, not out of a desire to be "green" or to follow what others are doing. You are an awesome wife and mother, Courtney.
2) You are becoming quite the hippie, lol! I joke with the kids about what a hippie mother they have. Gaelan says I'm just weird, Savannah says I'm not a hippie, but it's nice to know there's at least one more of us in the family!
3) You have a very organized thought process. The way you lay out what you have learned and the conclusions you have reached make it very easy for others to understand. God will use you to teach others what you're learning now.

Courtney said...

Thank you for your encouragement :). I was thinking that when I said I wanted to hear your opinions, I wanted to know what you thought about which one was more important, organic or local? :) I promise I wasn't fishing for complements; although, they are encouraging :). At times, I feel alone in my journey. It's good to hear from others who are in the same journey! And, you both are people who do respond to me on a pretty regular basis :). Thank you for that!

Anonymous said...

I stumbled on your blog after googling organic living. I am just at the cusp of making the switch for our family of 8. Your post helped me to see I don't have to do all or nothing and concentrate on the important whole food aspect. It helped alot, thanks!

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