Friday, August 31, 2007

The price is right?

Does anyone else find it ironic that bleached, over-processed white flour is cheaper than healthy whole-grain flours? Why is it that the prices of organic, even local, foods are much higher than foods that have been shipped half-way around the world?! (This question is somewhat rhetorical--I understand that most organic farms are smaller and produce less, and also there is the issue of longer shelf life when it comes to bleached flour and products made with hydrogenized oil.)

Is it possible to eat well (being a good steward of my family's health and my own) without spending a fortune (being a good steward of our finances)? I'd love to hear your thoughts. Do you buy organic and/or local products? Why or why not?

Relevant articles: why organic food costs more, tips for saving money on organic food, and Is it worth the extra cost?


Anonymous said...

I prefer to buy organic produce or products when they are available in our area. I've read articles about the cost of organic produce. The best tips I read were to A) Budget for it B) Buy the organic strawberries but get regular bananas. They don't have a high pesticide residue because of the thick skins. C) Clean any non-organic produce, such as apples, really well!

Andrea L.

Meredith said...

Am I reading the first sentence wrong?

Where I live, bleached white flour costs about 99 cents for a 5 lb bag on sale.

Minimally processed whole grain flour costs about $2.15 a bag.

The less they do to it, the more they charge, it seems.

Lisa said...

Stock up at Trader Joe's the next time you are near one...they are amazing, have the best supply of organic and other healthy foods, and their prices are simply wonderful! Also, you should see if there is a store nearby that has bulk dry cannot beat those prices for whole grain pastas, flours, and more! Is there a Whole Foods in Sioux Falls or City yet? If not, check Omaha so you can make sure to visit it if you guys are down that way :)

thehomespunheart said...

I re-read that first sentence several times - I am amazed that the good stuff is cheaper where you live! It sure isn't here!!!

Besides our commitment to organic milk, I try to add one or two items at least each shopping trip to our grocery cart. Whatever is available and/or affordable. We had some lovely organic grapes lately that were worth every penny!

On the whole, I find it too costly to buy organic completely living in an area without a good source for shopping organic.

Anonymous said...

Lisa, you aren't helping matters :). The last store we went into for organic foods was incredibly expensive. It makes no sense to me how you can call something natural (defined in my mind as "do nothing to it") and charge 50% more than something that needs preservatives, processing, etc. Something is askew, and my claim is that all-natural/organic companies are getting "green" and greedy off healthy-minded consumers. Until consumers see they are being taken advantage of for eating healthy, perhaps we'll always pay more. In fact, I'm not convinced that it is all the same product, just packaged in different boxes.

I appreciate my wife's dilemma that was presented...trying to keep our family healthy, while being wise with our money. I think our compromise has been good, which is to just pick out a few items to buy that may cost more but are significantly healthy (oil, flour, peanut butter, etc).


Jody said...

It is ironic that eating less processed foods costs more. But do your research. Sometimes you don't need to buy orgnic. Compare labels because sometimes the word, itself, can be misleading.

justabeachkat said...


Seems like forever since I've visited your blog. I sure missed everyone and knowing what was happening while I was on my trip. It's been fun "catching up" with what you've been doing. So many good posts.


Ewokgirl said...

I think the reason that organic costs so much more is that it is more labor intensive while in the field. Chemical pesticides are cheaper and easier than maintaining an organic system. At least, I think that's the way it works.

But it really doesn't make sense with things like flour. You'd think all the extra processing would jack up the price over the unprocessed flours.

Anonymous said...

Hi, Carrie -- my "solution" is similar to what Eric says you are doing -- choosing specific items to focus on. For example, I haven't bought bleached white flour in more than 30 years. But the unbleached flour that I buy isn't necessarily organically grown. Safeway has unbleached flour in their store brand which I can get for about $1 for a 5-lb bag.

One of the benefits of gardening is that at least for several weeks or months of the year, you have a ready source of organically grown produce!

Good luck in this quest -- it isn't simple!

Love you, Mom

mer said...

I try to buy organic as much as possible, especially milk and fruit. I'm able to do this on a budget because I live in a very health conscious area. There are a variety of stores (major chains and health food stores) that offer organic/natural foods at competitive and even sale prices. I also shop the bulk aisle for grains, spices, etc, and the local farmers market for produce.

Sometimes it isn't cost effective for me to buy organic, but when things are on sale I stock up.

Last month, my major chain grocery store had strawberries and raspberries for $1/lb. AND the ORGANIC raspberries and strawberries were the SAME price. So, I loaded up and now my freezer is full of frozen berries for smoothies, baking, etc.

I realize that I am very fortunate to live in a place with lots of healthy options, and prices that are competitive. Otherwise, I'd probably have to pick a few things to commit to buying organic.

Kara K said...

Carrie why not just trying growing your own wheat and grinding it yourself for the most natural product?

(you can stop shaking your head at me. I was only kidding!)

Kara K

PS- I just shelled out a ridiculous amount for lavender essential oil. But I just won Harry Potter IMAX tickets to make up for it. Sort of.

A, B & C said...

I read an article (I wish I could find it) about the most important things to buy organic. I think it listed 5 or 6 of them. The article even went on to discredit some organic products, such as certain produce, because some pesticides are mandatory, etc. I'll let you know if I find the article. Either way, I agree that it's very hard to balance fiscal responsibility with your health. I'm a person who must "pay" for a gym or class to be motivated, but I also need it to have childcare, which = a lot of money!

Laurel Wreath said...

How awesome about getting a copy of the ARC of Nicole's book. Let me know when you post it I will direct readers to you =)) I am going to interview her first of Oct when it comes out.


WorksForMom said...

Good post!! This really is a balancing act. I find we often pay more to eat healthier and organic foods.

We've found that our local farmers markets offer the best prices.

Megan Crow said...

I'm a little behind in responding...and if you read my blog you'll quickly see where I stand on this... but I wanted to specifically respond to Eric's comment, if I may :)

The reason you're paying more for something that is organic is because (most of the time) it is made in sustainable ways. The farmers aren't subjected to horrible pesticides. And they are generally run by small companies - so they don't have the power, that say Wal-Mart, would have to keep prices low. And they most likely treat there employees right, so you're paying for a fair wages.

But I do understand the concern of "green-washing" now. It is a problem. I see things as "black and white" when it comes to buying organic. You have to be a smart consumer (for example, Boca Burgers are made by Phillip-Morris, the cigarette company). If it is not 100% organic, USDA or QAI certified, then I DONT buy it. If I can't find something local/organic I buy CHEAP - we're talking Aldi's cheap. If I'm going to pay extra for my food, it has to be genuine and 100% organic not "all natural" or "70% organic" (ex., water is a natural ingredient, so if it says "made with natural ingredients" it could just mean water).

And it is possible to live within your means. I find I spend less than many typical families (at our size) AND we buy organic.

It just depends where your priorities are. And how much you care about what goes into your body and what goes into God's earth (the reason we first started buying organic wasn't for ourselves, but actually for the Earth, because all the pesticides used go straight into the earth).

And there are certain fruits/vegetables to avoid...peaches, for example, absorb 98% of the pesticides sprayed on them, so we never buy non-organic peaches...but bananas don't matter so much (cause we don't eat the outside), so if I don't have the money, I'll buy non-organic bananas.

You just have to set your priorities. Just some things to think about :)

Some links: