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My Whole Food Journey: What I Buy Organic & Why


Wholesome Journey 2 350

I get a lot of questions about what I buy at the grocery store. Which items do I buy organic and why?  Organic foods can be more expensive and we all know that budgets are tight.  So what should you spend your hard earned dollars on?  Here’s a run down of the items I buy and why:

1. Dairy Products – I buy organic dairy products like milk, cheese, sour cream, yogurt, and butter.  I love it even better if I can find organic products that say they are from grass fed cows.  It is my understanding that Organic Valley comes from grass fed cows.  They have milk, cheese, and sour cream.  I buy the Organic Valley organic butter from grass fed cows/pastured cows in the green wrapper.  I also buy Stonyfield yogurt.  If I have to chose between organic and grass fed…I choose grass fed.  If you can get your hands on raw milk and raw milk products I highly recommend it.  I cannot get it in my area.  Read more about my dairy choices here.

2. The Dirty Dozen - I buy these fruits and veggies organic – ALWAYS.  If I can’t find them organic, I don’t buy them.   Of course, I don’t buy these fruits and veggies all the time anyway.  We rarely eat celery, bell peppers, & cucumbers.  I buy strawberries, peaches, and blue berries during the months they are grown (spring/summer) – they are MUCH cheaper then and are more likely to be local or at least from the US (berries in the dead of winter usually come from South America or Mexico where organic rules -and conventional farming practices for that matter,  aren’t as strict.  So really it is just apples, grapes, lettuce, and potatoes that I buy on a regular basis.

  1. apples
  2. celery
  3. sweet bell peppers
  4. peaches
  5. strawberries
  6. nectarines-imported
  7. grapes
  8. spinach
  9. lettuce
  10. cucumbers
  11. blueberries-domestic
  12. potatoes

Plus…

  • green beans
  • kale/greens

3. The Clean Fifteen: These fruits and veggies have the least amount of pesticides.  I buy them conventionally (not organic).  I do try to purchase GMO free corn and to purchase local if I can.  Local produce means fresher produce (because it doesn’t have to travel as far).  The farmer’s market is a great place to buy both organic and conventional produce.  Grab a printable of both the Dirty Dozen & Clean Fifteen lists {in pocket sized} here.

  1. Onions
  2. Sweet corn
  3. Pineapples
  4. Avocado
  5. Cabbage
  6. Sweet peas
  7. Asparagus
  8. Mangoes
  9. Eggplant
  10. Kiwi
  11. Cantaloupe (Domestic)
  12. Sweet Potatoes
  13. Grapefruit
  14. Watermelon
  15. Mushrooms

4. Eggs – I am lucky to have a mom and dad that raise chickens so I have far fresh eggs available.  If you aren’t as lucky, you can get perfectly good eggs at eh grocery store.  I would look for humanely raised and organic.  But, if you have to choose between the two go for the certified humanely raised insignia.  Born Free has eggs that are both organic and certified humanely raised.  I find this brand at my local Ingles grocery store.

5. Nitrate Free Lunch Meats – My kids are like most kids… they love hotdogs.  And, my husband packs a sandwich for lunch at least a couple days a week.  So, I buy nitrate free beef hotdogs.  There are lots of varieties available now.  Even Oscar Mayer has one.  And, for lunch meat, there are many brands who indicate they are nitrate free, including widely available and affordable, Hormel Natural Choice.  But, our FAVORITE brand/variety is Wellshire’s Turkey Ham.  This turkey sandwich meat is so good and tastes just like ham {for those who might want something healthier or who are eating kosher}.

6. Meat & Fish: We eat a variety of beef, chicken, and fish.  You can read about how I choose beef {grass fed} here.  I buy chicken like I buy eggs.  I look for certified humanely raised and organic.  And, fish is a bit tricky.  I’m still figuring it out!  But you can read what I know so far here.

7. In the Pantry: I don’t buy a lot of canned goods because many cans are lined with BPA (the same stuff that is found in plastics that everyone tries to avoid now).  You can read more about BPA in canned goods in my post here.  So, I buy canned goods that don’t have BPA liner – especially if the foods are acidic (like tuna and tomatoes) because the BPA is more likely to leach into the food.

I buy lots of dried beans, rice, pasta, local honey, natural peanut butter (look for a type without Hydrogenated oil and no sugar added), coconut oil, and unbromated flour (like King Aurthur brand, which is availabe almost anywhere now).

8. Other Organic Items: Since I buy apples organic (they are on the top of the dirty list) I buy apple products organic – like apple juice and apple sauce. I also buy organic ketchup.  It may sound like overkill but, recent research found that organic ketchup has double the antioxidants of conventional ketchup.  I also buy organic cereal and organic dried fruits for the kiddos.

9. Bulk Foods: I hit the bulk aisle for organic popcorn, organic oats, organic grits, and nuts.  They are all very affordable in the bulk bins.  I pay less for these items organic than conventional when I purchase them this way!

Well, that wraps it up.  If you still have questions I’d love to answer them!  Of course, you should realize that I am constantly reading and finding out new things.  But, rest assured I’ll share my findings here! ;)

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Comments

  1. Denise..thanks for this article. I’m printing these off so that we can use this too. I’ve been struggling with our grocery list as a vegetarian & organic {when we can be} family for a while now. Our grocery list changes constantly because we can’t find a consistent list of things that meet what we feel is best, maybe because we simply didn’t know what was best. But this pretty much nailed it. This is what I needed. Especially the seasonal fruits and veggies. Some detailed guidance on what, where, & why :] Since you and I live in the same town…do you buy from the {trade day} Farmer’s Market, or from Hunters? I’m not sure where to buy these things. I found locally grown corn at Ingles, it was delicious, however I’m not sure who grows it. Thanks so much for the help!

    -Keri
    ahomemakersglory.com

  2. Denisesawyer says:

    I do purchase some produce at Walmart and Ingles but I go to Earth Fare or Whole Foods/Green Life in Down Town Chattanooga about every two weeks and I stock up then. I prefer to hit the farmer’s markets in the spring and summer since that is when things really start to grow locally (that is our growing season). I have been to Trade Day and I bought a couple melons but I am just going to be honest with you…I live near many farms in our community and I am not impressed with their methods. They aren’t as concerned with not growing GMOs, growing organic, or using sustainable methods. Of course I am sure there are exceptions but overall I just don’t trust it. You also have people selling produce that they did not grow at Trade Day… it is relatively the same as what you can purchase at Ingles. I like to hit the Main Street Farmers Market on Wednesdays in Chattanooga. It is small but the growers are all very conscious and it is a rule that you must grow it if you sell it. They also sell meat, bread, and dairy at this market. I have been know to purchase some produce at Hunters, but again, I know he uses non-organic fertilizer on his tomatoes so I try to only purchase items on the clean 15 list at places like this and Trade day. At least it is local – even if it might not be organic. :/ There is also a farmers market in Rome – the prices there are GREAT but you want to ask around to find out the farming methods. And, there is the Chattanooga Market on Sunday. It is HUGE now, but the last time I went it was more of a fun outing than a serious farmer’s market. While it was fun, the produce there was not all local (many just doing re-sale (like I was saying about Trade Day). However, there are a few booths that sell organic produce but the price here seem high overall.
    Hope that helps?
    Denise

  3. When it comes to fish or seafood I’ve read and feel wild caught is the way to go. That way it ate what God made it to eat and not farm raised GMO fish food! This does of course maek it more $$…but we are able to get wild caught salmon on sale for $6-$8/# at times so we buy a couple of meals worth each time and that typically gets us by until the next sale. We’ve stopped eating tilapia b/c we cant find it wild caught! We live close tot he coast so wild caught shrimp is fairly reasonable at times.

  4. I cut out all milk, all and organic. Too many hormones. Drink almond milk. Has more calcium and very organic and healthy. Try the silk brand. Comes in vanilla and chocolate. I think more, but no dairy products. They come from cows and cows are given drugs to produce. Too many hormones.

    • Denisesawyer says:

      Leah,
      Almond milk is a good alternative. Just make sure you are buying a plain variety. Many contain corn syrup, synthetic vitamin E, and carrageenan. Also, almond milk is high in omega 6′s. Typically we get too many omega 6′s in our diet and not enough omega 3′s.
      Another good alternative is RAW milk from cows on a grass diet – if you can find it and its not illegal in your state. They aren’t given drugs, no pesticides, and are eating a healthy diet as God intended. It is also not pasturized or homogenized so it isn’t processed to kill off all the good omega 3′s, lactase, and CLA, and REAL vitamin E and K2.
      Denise
      Wholesome Mommy

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